A Year in Review: The Sociology Undergraduate and Graduate Programs

Undergraduate Program


This year Bradley Wright and Ryan Talbert participated in orchestrating two successful labs here at the University of Connecticut.

Bradley Wright serves as the Team Lead for the Life Purpose Lab, which allows undergraduates to explore the compelling question, “How do people find life purpose?” The lab features classes, an immersive retreat, along with options to have facilitators attend classes or other events for a one-time overview of what purpose is and how to find it. In Fall 2023 the Lab will offer four different purpose classes aimed at different groups of students, including freshman and honors students.

The Health Equity Lab is directed by Ryan Talbert and critically investigates social determinants of health that extend from systems of stratification. During the 2022–2023 academic year, six undergraduates collaborated on research that examined the impact of incarceration on race-gender disparities in immune function, the role of women’s empowerment for contraceptive use among Indian women, and the effect of exposure to lethal police violence on substance use patterns, among others. All six lab members displayed their projects at UConn’s Spring 2023 Frontiers Undergraduate Exhibition. With funding support from UConn’s Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy; Office of Undergraduate Research; and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, lab members also presented their research at the annual meetings of the Eastern Sociological Society, Midsouth Sociological Association, and American Public Health Association. At present, lab collaborations have led to nine conference presentations, ten coauthored manuscripts, and three publications.

Greetings from the Director of Graduate Studies


The central goals of the graduate program in sociology are to foster an intellectually
inspiring experience for students, provide them with the tools to ask important sociological
questions, cultivate the research methods and skills so that they can find the answers to their
questions, and to facilitate the conditions to meet the department benchmarks toward completing
their degrees. This past year we have also worked on building a shared sense of purpose in the
department, creating new spaces of interaction between graduate students and faculty. To this
end, it has been an extremely productive year for UConn Sociology.

A group of faculty and students organized a successful Pipeline to Publishing (P2P)
workshop that met biweekly. In the various sessions, students circulated drafts of their articles,
and faculty members served as discussants. We then followed with lively constructive
conversations about the work, with the aim of moving the papers toward publication. The P2P
series ended the year with a publishing workshop led by Professor Karen Cerulo, a sociology
professor at Rutgers University and the editor of Sociological Forum. Professor Cerulo answered
wide-ranging questions about the publishing process. I’m looking forward to seeing the
successes that stem from the workshop, and I hope that we can build on this series and expand it
in coming semesters.

We also extended the proseminar to incorporate more faculty, advanced graduate
students, and outside speakers in a new workshop format addressing different benchmarks and
career pursuits. We had informative conversations between faculty and graduate students on
publishing, academic and alternative job markets, MA and Dissertation research strategies, Area
Exam preparations, and much more. The department also sponsored wonderful outside guest
speakers to lead some of the conversations. UConn alumni—Sylvia Pu, Amy Lawton, and Ranita
Ray—expertly discussed how to transition from being a UConn PhD to establishing various
career paths in academia, at university research centers, and in the non-profit realm.
I’m also happy to report that our department continues to successfully place students in
various positions, inside and outside of academia. We wish our outgoing PhDs the best of luck as
they embark on their careers, and we look forward to hearing about their future successes. In
addition, I’d like to welcome a robust new cohort of 7 students, with research interests that
include the study of racism, health, education, urban development, and the environment. To our
new and continuing students, I hope you find the department to be a welcoming place to advance
your educational goals and I look forward to seeing you all in the Fall.

Lastly, I’d like to welcome Professor Jeremy Pais as the incoming Director of Graduate
Studies. Jeremy has already spent a better part of the summer getting acclimated into this new
role, and I look forward to working with him and all our graduate students in the upcoming
academic year.
–Andrew Deener, Director of Graduate Studies