Sociology Newsletter 2013


Welcome to third annual edition of the UGA Sociology newsletter. Once again it provides an opportunity to profile some of our faculty, staff, current students, and alumni as well as to highlight our achievements over the past year. This year's edition includes profiles of April Brown, the department’s business manager who has run the department with great efficiency for the past two years, Jim Coverdill, a Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor, Linda Grant, a faculty member who recently retired after a 30-year career at UGA, Jackson Bunch, a graduate student who has just finished his Ph.D. and will be taking a faculty position at the University of Montana, and two of our majors who are about to graduate, Micah Gaffney and Nguyen Dinh. Micah is headed for graduate school in sociology and Nguyen is joining the Peace Corps. It also includes profiles of two of our relatively recent alumni, Sarah Vingoe and Brian Levy, who reflect on how their degree in sociology has influenced their lives and careers. This edition of the newsletter has been ably edited by two of our undergraduate majors, Kiarra Waldburg and Andrea Palmer.

William Finlay, Department Head


Department News

Welcome to Sarah Shannon, who is receiving her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Minnesota this summer. She will be joining the department as an assistant professor in the fall semester.

Linda Grant retired in December 2012 and Ron Simons will be retiring this summer. Ron will be joining the faculty at Arizona State University, although he will spend the summer and fall semesters each year at UGA as an emeritus faculty member.

Joe Hermanowicz was awarded the Franklin College’s Sandy Beaver Excellence in Teaching Award.

Natasha Ganem was selected by the UGA Student Government Association to be a recipient of the Outstanding Professor Award.

Ron Simons and Man Kit (Karlo) Lei’s article, "Social Environment, Genes, and Aggression: Evidence Supporting the Differential Susceptibility Perspective," which was published in the American Sociological Review, won the 2013 Outstanding Article Award from the American Society of Criminology.

Graduate students Jackson Bunch, Mary Edmond, and Stephen Watts successfully completed their dissertations and begin new jobs in the fall at the University of Montana, Piedmont College, and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside respectively.

Kait Boyle, a second-year graduate student, received the Emory Center for Injury Control's Summer Student Injury Prevention Scholarship ($1000) for her project "Post-Assault Outcomes of 'Victims' and 'Survivors' of Sexual Assault."

Jeff Gardner and Daniel Shank won the department's B.O. Williams Outstanding Graduate Student Awards. Two awards are made each year: one to a student who has finished his or her M.A. within the past year and the other to a student who has finished his or her Ph.D. within the past year. Jeff also received an Innovative and Interdisciplinary Research Grant from the UGA Graduate School to fund his research in the summer of 2013.

Man-Kit (Karlo) Lei won the department's Certificate of Excellence award, which is given to a graduate student who passed his or her comprehensive exams and has shown outstanding academic performance and demonstrated professional accomplishment.

Tim Gill was the recipient of a department award for graduate students, the E.M. Beck Award for Excellence in Teaching.

The department gives four awards to outstanding sociology majors every year. Melissa Siegel won the Phyllis Jenkins Barrow Scholarship, which is given to a Georgia resident who has an outstanding academic record, plans to attend graduate school, and has acted with the same "selfless public spirit" exemplified by the Barrow family. Kelsey Resetar won the Ray Payne Award, which is given to a student who has excelled in his or her courses and in research, thus demonstrating a commitment to sociology and great potential for professional development in that field. Kelsey Resetar also received the Service Award, for her work as the president of our sociology honor society, Alpha Kappa Delta. Finally, the department's newest award, the E.M. Beck Study Abroad Scholarship, was awarded to Diana Do, who will be studying in the UGA-Globis program in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

An especial thanks to Woody Beck’s colleagues and students, past and present, who contributed so generously to the study-abroad scholarship that was created to recognize Woody’s contributions to study abroad. This year the fund crossed the threshold of $10,000, which means that it is now an endowed stand-alone scholarship.

Spring 2013 Graduation

Kelsey Resetar Kelsey Resetar, winner of the Ray Payne and the Service awards. Megan Harrigan Megan Harrigan and her parents at the Sociology graduation reception. Marissa Loterina Marissa Loterina and Dr. Jeremy Reynolds at the Sociology graduation reception.


Student Profiles

Graduate Student Profile: Jackson Bunch

Jackson Bunch will be joining the sociology department at the University of Montana as an assistant professor in fall 2013

How did you get started within sociology?

When I was an undergraduate I was kind of bouncing around a couple different possibilities for majors, looking at psychology, math, English, political science – a wide range of stuff. And I took a sociology class and really, really, really liked it. Liked the perspective, liked the topics, had a wonderful instructor as well and that just really sold me on it.

And how did you end up here at UGA?

Well, whenever I applied to grad schools I applied to places throughout the country and was accepted to a number of them, including UGA. And when I visited UGA I just got a really good feeling from it. It felt like the department was a very good fit for me. The graduate students, I felt like I meshed with them and they all seemed to be really happy, which is not the case everywhere.

What faculty are you working with?

I work with Jody Clay-Warner. She has been a really good mentor as far as helping me learn how to navigate the classroom as well. So it’s been a very well-rounded training I’ve gotten from her.

What do you like about the sociology department here?

I’ve had really, really good support. So I think that that really has prepared me very well for the experiences that I’ll have when I go out to Montana. And also, it’s been good socially. We’re all friendly, get along well, which again, is not the case everywhere you go. It’s not too cutthroat or competitive or anything so it’s been good.

What is your dissertation about?

I’m looking at the relationship between victimization and offending. A lot of times we tend to think of criminals and victims as being two distinct groups of people, but the fact is there’s an incredible amount of overlap there, that a lot of criminals have also been victimized by crime and a lot of victims also commit crimes. So what I’m looking at with the dissertation is what’s the nature of this relationship. Is it that offending, being a criminal, does that cause you to become a victim, or is it the other way around or maybe it’s both of them?

What are your future plans?

So at University of Montana I’ll be joining the sociology department there and they have an emphasis there that focuses on crime and deviance, so I’ll be in that subsection of the department and there I will be continuing to do research and teaching undergraduate and graduate students. And as far as research goes, I plan to continue this line of research, looking at offending and victimization.

Do you enjoy teaching?

I do. I like it a lot. My fourth year I started teaching my own courses and that was a really great experience. I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed that. I like the exchange of ideas with students. It can be really rewarding.

Undergraduate Student Profile: Nguyen Dinh

Wearing an áo dài while interning with Ernst & Young, Vietnam

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I was born in Saigon, Vietnam. And I moved to the United States to Georgia eight years ago, when I was a freshman in high school.

Where will you go after receiving your bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Georgia?

I’ll be joining the Peace Corps right after graduation. I’ll be going to Botswana in August.

What has sociology taught you that you think will help in achieving those goals?

Well it prepares me to understand how people interact and how society works. And it’s important because when I join the Peace Corps, that will help me with different cultures and just the knowledge and understanding of how people act a certain way.

Tell me a little bit about your best experiences at UGA.

I was the president of China Care Organization on campus and I was also a world ambassador for the ISL, which is International Student Life. I also went on alternative spring break to volunteer in D.C. during the spring break of 2010. I spent seven weeks in Spain taking two classes at the University of Cadiz. I was a marketing intern at Ernst & Young-Vietnam and I stayed there for a month. It was an intense internship. It was amazing just to learn about how the corporate world works and I got to work with the marketing director of the company.

Is there anything else you’re involved in outside of school?

I volunteer to teach at Casa de Amistad and to teach the Spanish adults, ESOL. It’s English Speakers of Other Languages. And I also mentor to second graders at the Cleveland Road Elementary School. And the kids are going through some hardship in their life and they needed someone to play with and can understand some of that, so that’s where I come in.

Undergraduate Student Profile: Micah Gaffney

Micah Gaffney in Croatia

Tell us about yourself.

I’m the secretary for Psy Chi and an AKD sociology honors fraternity member. I enjoy cooking and eating out. Some favorite restaurants are Tlaloc Mexican Restaurant, The Grit.

Why did you decide to be a sociology major?

Originally, I first was interested in abnormal and clinical psych, and from there social psych, and then social stratification. But my interest has always been the human condition. But sociology set me on my current career path. I found a discipline that encompasses my various social science interests, and now I’m going to grad school for it.

Who are your most influential teachers?

I worked with Dr. Robinson through LASSI and took my second sociology class with her, and she helped me with the graduate application process. Dr. Finlay taught my first sociology class and made me want to take more.

You’re applying to grad school for sociology, where are you looking at going next year?

The joint degree programs for social policy and sociology at Harvard is the dream. I’ve applied to Harvard, Ohio, UT of Austin, Cornell, University of Chicago, NYU, and Duke.

You studied abroad last year, where did you go?

Croatia. I’ve always thought the former Yugoslavia was a very interesting part of the world, and I didn’t know a lot about it. And it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth.

What was most memorable about the trip?

You never do this in the U.S. but there’s this medieval city in the mountains that survived plagues, floods, etc. and people abandoned it. But it’s all stone and half of it was still there. We got to walk around the stones and ruins; it was great. They use this setting in Game of Thrones. It stays raining and the whole city is stone, so the road gets soaked, and we found a vegetarian restaurant and everything was delicious. Best dessert: figs stewed in red wine topped with a butter cream sauce.


Staff Profiles

April Brown

April Brown is the sociology department’s business manager

How long have you worked at UGA, and in your current position?

I've worked 13 years on campus; 10 years in the sociology department.

What brought you to UGA?

I've always heard great things about UGA and I wanted to be a part of those great things. I enjoy working with people and being able to help them with whatever they may need.

What does your position entail? What are your daily activities like?

My job is to make sure the department runs smoothly. I handle the budget, load classes, supervise the administrative staff and I’m responsible for all the department’s expenditures. I create and load classes. I’m also liaison between the department head and Dean's Office.

What is the most difficult part about being the business manager for an entire department?

I would have to say making sure the budget is spent by year end. It's always a task and can be frustrating at times when things don't go as planned.

What have you appreciated (or liked) most about working in the sociology department?

The faculty, staff, and graduate students. They are all wonderful to work with and it's my pleasure to help them the best way I can.

How do you "unwind" and what hobbies do you have?

In my spare time, I like to read, go shopping, and hang out with my family.


Alumni Profiles

Sarah Vingoe

Sarah Vingoe during her Peace Corps service In Togo

Tell us a little about yourself.

I graduated in 2002 with a sociology degree and have a post-graduate diploma from the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. I specialize in developing and managing international education and livelihoods projects, specifically with a focus on West Africa and particularly Francophone countries. I am a wife and a mother of a little girl, with a second one on the way.

Why did you decide to study sociology at UGA?

I took a sociology class with Dr. Beck to fulfill a requirement, but found I thought more about his class and what I was learning there more than any other course I was taking. I signed up for more classes with different professors the following semester, and continued to enjoy it. I thought, “If I am going to be doing something for the rest of my life, I’d better really like it,” so I decided to switch.

What did you do immediately after graduation?

I was terribly worried that after all these years of study I would just end up getting someone coffee at their cubicle, so instead, I joined Peace Corps! I was sent to Togo to become a Girls Education and Empowerment volunteer. It was a wonderful, completely self-directed experience that shaped the next ten years of my career as an international development worker.

What are you currently working on?

After Peace Corps, I did additional study in The Netherlands, took a job in Pakistan, returned to Togo for a consultancy, and then got a position in Washington developing education and livelihood projects in West Africa. I ended up moving back there to be closer to my work. I now live in Belgium and am planning to start a MBA program next year. I’ve lived and worked on four continents now, and I hope to take that knowledge and experience and start my own education services company in the future.

How did sociology help you prepare for your career?

A sociologist can quickly understand the interests and point of view of people from cultures different than her own, and a sociologist never forgets how much a group’s background interplays with its present. I don’t think I would have done as well in my career without sociology because it gave me a head start when trying to work with communities different than my own.

What advice would you give students majoring in sociology today?

Sociology is wonderful, but you still need to get a job. It can be hard to market yourself to potential employers because a sociology degree can seem somewhat vague to them. In my experience, the most successful candidates will always have something extra to offer. It’s not enough just to have a 4.0. It’s not enough to have been in Peace Corps to get a job in D.C. Students need to strive to be that little bit more special than their peers—become fluent in a language; get a practical minor like business; do something unusual like a six-month internship in Asia—something that will let your employers know that you are serious and that you have something to offer them. I would also encourage students to grow their contacts as much as they can. I know many people who have gotten their first and sometimes second and third jobs this way. I would just advise students not to be discouraged if they don’t know what they want to do with the rest of their lives. Even if they did, it would probably change anyway. Today’s students need to follow their passions, and combine them with a few practical skills here and there.

Brian Levy

Brian Levy in Grand Junction, CO

Tell us a little background information about yourself.

I graduated from UGA in May 2007 with majors in sociology and religion. My hobbies include tennis, running, traveling, hiking, and cooking. I’m an avid sports fan and enjoy rooting for UGA, Texas, and UNC, as well as the Atlanta Braves and New Orleans Saints.

Why did you decide to study sociology at UGA?

With a sociologist as my father, I suppose I always had a latent sociological imagination. As a junior, I realized my passion for sociological research in the context of Hurricane Katrina while taking Dr. Jeremy Reynolds’ graduate stratification seminar. With the hurricane affecting many members of my extended family in various ways, I completed a course project that examined the racial and economic inequalities in experiencing hurricane damage.

What did you do immediately after graduation?

After graduating, I sought to combine my interest in sociological research with my aspiration to improve the social conditions of less-advantaged individuals. To that end, I completed my master’s in public affairs specializing in social and economic policy at the University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School. I then moved to Washington, D.C. where I worked as a social science analyst and Presidential Management Fellow in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. At ASPE, I performed research and policy analysis focusing on poverty and welfare. I also completed a six-month detail as a Special Guest at the Brookings Institution.

What are you currently working on?

Presently, I am completing my first year of doctoral studies in sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I am a pre-doctoral trainee at the Carolina Population Center, and my research focuses on poverty and economic mobility. I also remain interested in Hurricane Katrina and am pursuing several research projects that investigate the role of race and class in the disparate impacts of disasters.

Do you have any advice for current sociology students?

Do your best to get involved outside the classroom. From undergraduate research projects to regular volunteer work with a local community organization, these experiences offer important opportunities to hone your interests and prepare for life after UGA. Also, find a mentor or two before your senior year. Professors often have rich sets of life experiences that they are happy to share with students. The earlier you find a mentor who shares related interests, the richer your interactions can become and the greater opportunity you’ll have to take advantage of new, potentially unexpected opportunities they may offer. Finally, to the extent that you can, travel both within America and abroad. There are so many places to see, people to meet, and experiences to have in the world. Not only will you never again have as much freedom and time to travel as you do in college, but the experience of a trip can change your worldview and goals.

Faculty Profiles

Dr. James E. Coverdill

Jim Coverdill has been at UGA since 1991.

Tell me a little about yourself.

I grew up in a little town of 1400, mostly Lutheran German farmers. It was in Beecher, IL south of Chicago, where the corn and soy beans begin; there’s this little town. There was one elementary, one middle school, and one high school. Not enough kids for a football team. It was a small town.

What attracted you to sociology?

I never grew up thinking about sociology; I don’t even think I heard the term really until I was in college. It was only by introduction to the topic through people I admire greatly and respect that I became interested in it. So the kinds of things I was reading - like the Saints and Roughnecks - that talked about the effect of social class, started to resonate with experience. That’s how I got into the enterprise.

What’s driven you to your interests in the medical aspect of sociology?

It was ten years ago that I got to know a program director of general surgery at MCG (Medical College of Georgia) and through conversation with him, became interested in workplace issues with surgeons. A few years ago, in 2003, a giant rock got tossed into the pond of residency training, where a decision was made to reduce shift lengths and constrain schedules in order to reduce fatigue and enhance resident well-being and possibly have better outcomes for patients. Traditionally residents work extraordinary hours and increasing evidence suggests that there is a connection between fatigue and human performance. We’re not like fine wines as we age; we need sleep.

The problem is that there’s been a lot of consternation and push back in the medical field, not just among supervisors. I’ve been interested in trying to understand the cultural and social structural impediments to what seems like a sensible evidence-based set of reforms that everyone ought to embrace whole-heartedly, and they don’t. My question is why.

What can sociology contribute to healthcare?

In many ways, the study of health, the sociology of medicine, I’m increasingly convinced holds all the enduring threads of sociology. When you talk about something like SES as a fundamental cause of health outcomes, you’re talking about some of the most interesting things in sociology: class, mechanisms that effect outcomes, whether we have controlled or uncontrolled diabetes, things like that. We need more health policy workers who have a social science background, because they won’t forget the broader framework of who is at the risk for these risk factors.

What do you like about Athens?

I thought this would be a good opportunity. And it became that for me. I had not lived in Georgia before. I’m from the Midwest, but I’ve grown to love this part of the country. I love the fact that I’m four hours from salt water. I go to Sandy Creek Park and paddle up there. I love walking our dogs in the woods around the lake there. It’s a wonderful place to live. Some months in the summer it’s hotter than I would like. I don’t miss terribly cold weather. I miss the snow, but I always get a taste of it. My wife is Canadian and we always spend a couple weeks in Montreal at Christmas, I get my fill of it. I like walking my dog when snow is coming down, I like the sound of it crunching under my feet. I don’t miss scraping my windows, scary driving – those kinds of things. So we can travel to cold and when we come back we can have pizza on a screen porch, or go out on a boat.

Dr. Linda Grant

Linda Grant with her mother, brother, and two grandsons at her retirement party

What are some of your best memories at UGA?

There are so many, it’s hard to single out. It’s been great working with both undergraduate and graduate students and seeing what they’ve gone on and done with their lives. I guess I keep in closer touch with graduate students. But they’ve just done all kinds of things. Some are professors now in places all over the country, some are doing more activist things, some are combining both. I guess the highlight would be winning the mentoring award from the graduate school a couple years ago. Also I won a similar award from the Sociologists for Women and Society which is a professional organization that I belong to.

I have some great personal memories here as well. I watched my oldest daughter graduate from law school here on the lawn. She went to Northwestern as an undergrad and then she went to law school here.

What are you most looking forward to in retirement?

I’m discovering that retirement is a bit of a process. I’m still involved in some editorial work and some writing that I’m doing; I’m on a couple committees with some graduate students. I’m looking forward actually to do some research things that won’t have to be done under the gun.

In the short run, I’ve discovered Athens is a great place for retirees. There really is a lot to do; there’s the Lifelong Learning Institute, it’s got all these classes and interest groups. I’m re-joining the Georgia Botanical Society. I want to take a master gardening class too. I’ve been an organic gardener for 35-40 years, way before it was fashionable. I’ve tried to get a little more serious about doing that. My peach tree should be coming this week. Part of the master gardener thing is a section that deals with herbs. I’d like to learn more about medicinal herbs and herb teas and things like that.

A friend of mine is teaching me how to knit. I’m not sure that’s going terribly well. I can do things that are square, where you don’t have to count stitches. I love music and concerts, particularly classic music. I love theater too. I have one daughter who is a theater teacher at a magnet school. We don’t get a whole lot of time to do theater together.


Research Spotlight

Center for Research on Behavioral Health, Owens Institute for Behavioral Research

Dr. Paul Roman

In an inconspicuous building in the middle of the University of Georgia’s south campus, the Center for Research on Behavioral Health (CRBH) has been conducting a nationwide, longitudinal drug treatment study since 1994. Spearheaded by Dr. Paul Roman, the National Treatment Center Study received its first of many grants in 1987. What began as an offshoot of research on employee assistance programs (EAP) in the workplace has been transformed into a study of privately funded substance abuse treatment facilities and later broadened to include public treatment centers and then clinical trial networks.

Dr. Roman saw the shortcomings of drug and alcohol treatment through his previous research with EAPs that led to his interest in studying privately funded treatment facilities. From there, grant applications were funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), along with various other sources of private and public funding. The National Treatment Center Study gathers information on treatment centers’ patterns of organizational change associated with the use of Substance Use Disorder medications and other treatment innovations, use of primary care physicians, and the effects of healthcare reform. This study is funded at least until 2020, and the implications of this study are quite expansive. Not only does it have the potential to help create better treatment programs, but Dr. Roman hopes that the findings from this study will lower resistance and negative public perception of substance abuse treatment and encourage individuals to seek treatment in earlier stages.

From this study, doctoral candidates and undergraduate students, as well as UGA faculty have been able to use this information either to expand upon their own research or to start a new research endeavor. In addition to research proposals, the CRBH provides many opportunities for undergraduate, graduate students, and faculty to analyze data and write research papers for publication. There are 10 undergraduates from a variety of majors who are currently employed as student workers at the CRBH.

Currently, there are also three new research proposals under development at the CRBH. One study will analyze the impact the legalization of marijuana in the states of Colorado and Washington has on the caseload of treatment centers. Another study will focus on how to motivate primary care physicians to begin doing more addiction treatment in their routine practices, including use of three Substance Use Disorder medications (Buprenorphine, Vivitrol, and Methadone). A third study being proposed, in conjunction with the College of Pharmacy, will study the careers of pharmacy students and their experiences with alcohol and drugs over the course of their careers. Each of these developing projects involves a mix of faculty, graduate students and undergraduate research assistants.


Fall 2012

Maria Paino, Sociology, University of Georgia
Organizing Schools: Coupling Trends within Public Schools and the Effects on Teachers’ Identities and Student Deviance from 1987-2007

Jackson Bunch, Sociology, University of Georgia
The Cycle of Crime: Examining the Processes Linking Offending and Victimization

Cecilia Ridgeway, Sociology, Stanford University
Intersecting Cultural Beliefs and Social Relations: Gender, Race, and Class Binds and Freedoms

Lori Holyfield, Sociology, University of Arkansas
Military Edgework and Masculinity: The Perfect Storm for PTSD

Spring 2013

Neale Chumbler, College of Public Health, Health Policy and Management, University of Georgia
The Impact of Neighborhood Cohesion on Older Individuals' Self-Rated Health Status

Jeremy Reynolds, Sociology, University of Georgia
Tracking the Time Divide: A Sequence Analysis of Work Hour Mismatches

James William Ainsworth, Sociology, Georgia State University
Lessons Learned while Researching the Oppositional Culture Explanation for Racial Disparities in Educational Performance

Richard Felson, Crime, Law, and Justice and Sociology, Pennsylvania State University
Sexual Assault as a Crime Against Teenagers

Kathleen Gerson, Sociology, New York University
Work, Care, and Gender Change in the New Economy

Eric Baumer, Criminology, Florida State University
Cheating for the American Dream: Evaluating the Prevalence of Mortgage Fraud across American communities

John Hagan, Sociology and Law at Northwestern University
Who are the Criminals? Iraq and the Crimes of Preemptive War

Support the Department

There are many ways to support the department. Financial contributions are most welcome, but we also appreciate our alumni who give their time to speak to our current students and new graduates by providing advice about careers in specific areas. Thank you!

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