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Department of Sociology Newsletter

Issue 10: June 23, 2021


Dear Colleagues,

I'd like to extend a big thank-you to the entire department -- faculty, students, and staff -- for all your efforts to keep the trains running this past year. Thank you for learning new technology, developing creative new ways to teach and do research, and for supporting one another and our undergraduates this year.  I know it hasn't been easy.

So, I hope you've all found time now that we've hit our summer stride to rest and relax. I trust that you are getting vaccinated and discovering new-found freedom to reconnect with family and friends.

I hope you'll find some joy and satisfaction in the many accomplishments of our colleagues this past year in spite of the pandemic.  While we are sad to see some departures, I'm delighted that we will welcome a new colleague, Dawne Mouzon, as a member of our core faculty. Congratulations to our students who won well-deserved department awards for their excellent research and teaching, and to our most recently-minted PhDs.  And kudos to all our graduating seniors who persevered through zoom classes and a year away from campus to earn their BA degrees.  We are very proud of you.

Please make note of some key events for the upcoming year, including the second annual Masters Panel in the early fall to be followed by an in-person(!) party.  I look forward to welcoming alumni back to campus for a symposium in honor of Eviatar Zerubavel in the spring of 2022. Please find details below.
Thank you as always for sharing your news and letting us know how you are doing.  See you next year!
Julie Phillips
Department Chair
Welcome, Professor Dawne Mouzon!  
Dawne Mouzon, Associate Professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, joins our core faculty on July 1.  Professor Mouzon has true Rutgers pedigree, having earned her undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Africana Studies, M.A. degree in public health/epidemiology and M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology, all at Rutgers.  Professor Mouzon's work remains largely interdisciplinary. Her early work focused on the Black-White paradox in mental health, or the unexpected finding that Blacks generally exhibit better mental health outcomes than Whites despite their lower socioeconomic standing and greater exposure to discrimination. She wrote a series of papers regarding the roles of family relationships, relationships of choice, and religious involvement as potential mechanisms to explain the mental health paradox. Dawne's current research interests involve social-structural barriers to Black family formation and the physical, emotional, social, and financial well-being of African Americans who are aging alone. She is also engaged in ongoing collaborations investigating the roles of discrimination and intimate partner violence on physical and mental health outcomes among African Americans and Black Caribbeans. You may enjoy listening to this interview with Dawne in which she discusses why the Black and Latino populations were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the fall, Professor Mouzon will be teaching two undergraduate classes, Health Inequalities and Sociology of the Family.  

Welcome, Dawne!  We are thrilled to have you join us!  

Congratulations to Hana Shepherd, who was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in April!  This is wonderful news, both for Hana and for the department!
We will miss you. Please stay in touch!
Lauren (Laurie)  Krivo, a professor in the Department of Sociology, retires at the end of June 2021.  During her career, Laurie established herself as a well-respected scholar in the areas of crime, disadvantage, race and neighborhood studies. She is perhaps best known for her research on the myriad ways in which inequality and disadvantage structure the lives of the poor, especially as it relates to the experience of crime.  With her long-time collaborator, Dr. Ruth Peterson, and funding from the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) among other agencies, Laurie illuminated how residential segregation and the patterning of inequality in urban areas affect the incidence of crime and its disproportionate impact on poor minority communities. 

Professor Krivo has also demonstrated extraordinary dedication and mentorship to graduate students throughout her career. Since her arrival at Rutgers, she routinely taught the advanced statistics course, and she served as a dedicated mentor to a number of graduate students and Graduate Director in Sociology from 2013-2016. At the national level and with funding from the National Science Foundation, Laurie, along with Dr. Ruth Peterson, formed the Racial Democracy, Crime, and Justice Network (RDCJN) that promotes learning and research among scholars and is recognized for its Summer Research Institute, which supports young scholars from underrepresented groups in their pursuit of academic success.  

Professor Krivo’s significant contributions to mentorship and issues of diversity and inclusion have been recognized with multiple prominent national awards, including the American Society of Criminology’s Julius Debros Award in 2006 and the Lifetime Achievement Award from ASC in 2012 for her record of sustained and significant accomplishments to the discipline and community of people of color.  In 2018, she was named a fellow of the ASC in 2018, in recognition of her significant contributions to the field through the career development of other criminologists. Laurie has always brought great energy and tremendous commitment to any project or task asked of her, contributing in numerous significant and multifaceted ways to Rutgers University.  

We wish you the very best in your retirement, Laurie!
Marie Ferguson, our graduate program coordinator, recently became engaged to her boyfriend Collin. Congratulations to Marie and Collin!  Earlier this year, Marie moved to Miami, and she will be leaving us at the end of July.  Marie has served as a truly exemplary GPC; her efficiency, commitment and overall support of the graduate program has been exceptional, and in recognition of her many contributions, Marie won the SAS Staff Excellence Award in 2020. She is irreplaceable!  We've been very lucky and proud to have Marie as part of Rutgers Sociology. We'll miss her terribly, but wish her only the very best as she embarks on the next exciting phase of her life.  

Brittany Friedman will be leaving us this summer to join the faculty of the University of Southern California as an Assistant Professor of Sociology.  

We wish you the very best, Brittany!
Paul McLean steps in as interim Department Chair (July - December 2021), and Jeff Dowd has been elected Undergraduate Program Director (July 2022-June 2025).  Thank you, Paul and Jeff, for serving the department in this capacity.
Dissertation Defenses
Lexi Gervis defended her dissertation, "Portable Benefits: Building Protection and Power in the New Non-Standard Safety Net" on May 14th, 2021. Her chair was Hana Shepherd, and her committee included Catherine Lee, Quan Mai, and Jocelyn Crowley and Andrea Hetling from the Bloustein School. Lexi's dissertation has been awarded the Anne Foner Dissertation Prize!  Congratulations, Dr. Lexi Gervis!
Niina Vuolajarvi has been recognized by the Rutgers School of Graduate Studies (SGS) for her groundbreaking research through an Outstanding Doctoral Student Award for 2021. The Outstanding Doctoral Student Award recognizes excellence in doctoral research and scholarship, with award criteria including outstanding achievements in academic research and scholarship, importance of research to a given field of study, and track record of academic and professional excellence.  Niina will begin a new position as Assistant Professor of International Migration at the London School of Economics in January 2022. Congratulations, Dr. Niina Vuolajarvi!
Student Awards
Congratulations, Jomaira!

Jomaira Salas Pujols has been awarded the prestigious Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship! After completing her Ford fellowship, Jomaira will join the Department of Sociology at Bard College.
Department Student Awards, 2020-21

Congratulations to the winners! The department is very proud of your accomplishments.

The Anne Foner Dissertation Prize for the outstanding dissertation is awarded to Lexi Gervis for her dissertation entitled “Portable Benefits: Building Protection and Power in the New Non-Standard Safety Net.”
The Matilda White Riley Published Article Award for the outstanding journal article is awarded to Gabrielle LeFleur for her article entitled “Desire/Desirability: Gender Asymmetries in Heterosexual Erotic Attention.”

The Matilda White Riley Qualifying Paper Award is awarded to Armani Beck-McField for her paper entitled "Assumptive Rights of Maleness: Stealth Transgender Men's Accounts of [White] Male Privilege.”
The 2020 Harry C. Bredemeier Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching is awarded to Man Kaplan.
Congratulations 2021-22 Graduates
SGS hosted a virtual commencement this year

Congratulations to Changhye!

Changhye Ahn's first QP project, "Acceptance of Prostitution: Support for Gender Equality and Prostitution Policy," won the first place at 2021 NYAAPOR-PANJAAPOR Young Public Opinion Stars Competition hosted by NY-PA-NJ Chapters of American Association of Public Opinion Research. The study analyzes the ways in which state policies on prostitution affect the relationship between individuals' support for gender equality and their views on prostitution, using the World Value Survey data from 39 countries. 
Link to the announcement page here.

Quan Mai arrived at Rutgers in September 2018.  We asked him to tell us a little bit about himself.  We're delighted to have you as our colleague, Quan!

Tell us a little bit about your research.  

My research interests include social stratification, sociology of labor markets, work and occupations, labor movements, and research methods. Broadly speaking, I am interested in how a range of social relations—including racial relations, employment relations, state regulatory capacity and social movements—combine in the economy, polity, and in urban spaces to influence processes of social stratification. My recent research explores various consequences of nonstandard work, specifically how these employment arrangements shape workers' well-being and labor market prospects. 


How did you become interested in sociology?  

I come from a family of sociologists. My father, aunt, and cousin are all professional sociologists with a diverse set of theoretical interests. Subjects such as social inequality, teaching sociology, and methodological inquiries frequently come up at our family dinners. By the time I attended college, I was very happy to find theoretical tools to systematically organize and further explore the topics I heard growing up.  

Tell us about your teaching interests and your plans for any new courses. 

I have a broad teaching interest, including social inequality, work & occupations, and research methods. Since coming to Rutgers, I have taught introductory statistics courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. I truly enjoyed teaching the graduate-level seminar on Work, Occupations, and Labor Markets and cannot wait to teach that course again. 


What book do you wish everyone would read? 

Why Nations Fail by Acemoglu and Robinson 


And finally, what do you like to do in your free time?  

I like to watch and play soccer – a hobby I have had since childhood. I also enjoy making traditional and modern Vietnamese dishes, going on long urban hikes with my wife while sampling desserts along the way. 


Dr. Melissa Aronczyk, affiliated faculty, wrote a piece in the Washington Post where she provides an overview of her upcoming book “A Strategic Nature: Public Relations and the Politics of American Environmentalism,” co-authored with Maria Isabel Espinoza, a graduate student in our department. 

Ali R Chaudhary and Quan D Mai published an article on Asian-American civic engagement during the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections. You can read the abstract here.

Ali R Chaudhary, Quan D Mai, 2021. "Educational Place, Simultaneity, and Civic Participation in Asian America" RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, April 2021, (2) 111-128; DOI:

Maria Isabel Espinoza and Melissa Aronczyk published an article in Big Data & Society that finds that “Data for good” initiatives around climate change are more about corporate PR and risk management than achieving global environmental sustainability goals. 
Big Data for Climate Action or Climate Action for Big Data?” Big Data & Society 8.1


Catherine Lee explains we need to recognize Asian American diversity and calls for action to address anti-Asian violence. Read her op-ed in the NJ Star-Ledger/


Professor Emerita Pat Roos published an op-ed in the Star Ledger/NJ.Com, with advice to President Joe Biden to make the opioid crisis a policy priority in his first 100 days in office.


Lior Yohanani took part in a research team with two professors from the  Institute for Immigration and Social Integration at the Ruppin Academic Center in Israel. The team examined the gaps in educational achievement between Ethiopian Israelis and their peers, using data from the Ministry of Education, finding that despite an improvement in eligibility for matriculation certificates in recent years among Ethiopians, the gaps in some subjects have actually increased, especially in the more prestigious subjects such as 5-point math, sciences and English. Their report was published a few weeks ago, and Haaretz newspaper recently published an article about the study. It is available in English here.

Undergraduate News
Congratulations to our graduating seniors!  You showed true grit and resilience in completing your BA during a global pandemic.  We are in awe and very proud of you all!
Alumni News
Mary Chayko was promoted to Distinguished Teaching Professor of Communication and Information at Rutgers University's School of Communication and Information. Her book Superconnected: The Internet, Digital Media, and Techno-Social Life was recently published in its third edition.

Shruti Devgan has been working as a visiting assistant professor in the sociology department at Bowdoin College for the past 4 years. She recently got a tenure track appointment in the same department and will start her term as assistant professor in the fall. 

We are sad to share the news that Robert Lang, a graduate of our program and a nationally recognized authority on urban growth, economic development and population dynamics, very recently passed away.  You can learn more about his career here. We express our condolences to his family.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has named Alexis Merdjanoff a recipient of the 2021 Early-Career Research Fellowship for the Gulf Research Program (GRP). Alexis is one of seven fellows selected for the program’s new Human Health and Community Resilience track.

Ghassan Moussawi's book, Disruptive Situations: Fractal Orientalism and Queer Strategies in Beirut, has been awarded the ASA Sexualities Section Distinguished Book Award. 

Jim Pennell, Ph.D. 1997, Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Community Research Center at the University of Indianapolis, retired in May, along with his wife Greta Pennell (Ph.D 1997 in Psychology from Rutgers), who retired from the School of Education at UIndy. Jim was at UIndy for 23 years after one year at Auburn University, and Greta was at UIndy for 24 years. As a result of their service to the university, both were made emeritus professors. They plan to stay in Indianapolis, become snowbirds in the winter, and travel far and wide as much as possible as the pandemic hopefully fades away.  

Michael Plekon has this forthcoming book: Community as church, church as community, Eugene OR: Cascade Books. 2021.
Alicia Rai
a-Hawrylak's work from her first QP and associated publications related to segregation, gentrification, and youth experiences in Asbury Park has been featured in curricular content as part of a lesson plan/unit on gentrification for Teach Rock, an organization which uses popular music to provide culturally responsive education materials for educators. Alicia was interviewed as a "scholar-activist" in the linked lesson, appearing after excerpted interviews with Bruce Springsteen and other local activists in the community. Alicia thanks Laurie Krivo, Zaire Dinzey-Flores, and Eviatar Zerubavel for their support of her early work on this topic, which she hope will inspire high school students to be interested in sociology.
Andrew Stroffolino was recently promoted to Lead Technical Analyst at Consolidated Chassis Management.


Professor Karen A Cerulo was a guest on "Thinking Aloud," a radio show broadcast on BBC 4. She was interviewed at length on May 5, 2021 about her study "Scents and Sensibility: Olfaction, Sense-Making and Meaning Attribution."  The article was published in the American Sociological Review in 2018.  You can hear the program here

Catherine Lee provides historical insight on the horrific Atlanta killings and explains how racism and misogyny drive violence against Asian and Asian American women.

Quan Mai was recently featured in's panel of expert on "Job Market Trends For Recent Grads". More details here.

Arlene Stein ran for committee person to represent her neighborhood in Hudson County, with the Progressive Democrats slate. 
Tsai-yen and her family welcomed a new addition on 
March 31!  Meet sweet Nora.  
Statistics/R Bootcamp, required for incoming students and open to all graduate students, will be held on Friday, August 27th, Monday, August 30th, and Tuesday, August 31st. Students will meet from 10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm each day.  A welcome dinner will be served on the Friday beginning at 5pm. Details to follow.

Welcome Luncheon, Wednesday, September 1, Noon, in the Department Library.

MA Panel, September 10, 9:30 - 1 pm, to be followed by lunch and festivities at the Log Cabin, Rutgers Gardens.

And stay tuned for further details on the full Fall line-up later in the summer.
Please share your news and events for inclusion in the next department newsletter.
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