I am a scholar of cultural authority. I seek to understand who gets believed (or not) and why as it relates to social change. At the core of my research agenda is a desire to understand how sources of cultural authority—whether it is rooted in art, medicine, or religion and science—are acquired and how sites of knowledge production are formed by diverse groups in the twenty-first century. I actively maintain distinct yet overlapping areas of research guided by this interest in not only the sources and causes of social change, but also in the places (built environment) and spaces (communities) where that social change occurs and why those locations appear to matter. This approach is the connective tissue of my work and one that reflects my deep commitment to unearthing how authority is negotiated and sometimes used to challenge the status quo rather than uphold it.
Currently I am working on a manuscript based on over three years of fieldwork completed at the Creation Museum in Kentucky built by Answers in Genesis, an organization tied to the broader Young Earth Creationist movement. This work received funding from the National Science Foundation and the Social Science Research Council among others.
Outside of my research, I also actively participate in the Science and Religion Network with fellow social scientists. And, I am beginning a new collaborative project, the People’s Weather Map, with partners from University of Iowa and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Digital Bridges grant. We examine how Iowans negotiate and make sense of climate change across their communities, as expressed in their own words on social media. In an era when scientific information about climate change is contested, misunderstood, or simply ignored, we seek to broaden the understanding of how severe weather relates to climate change and ground these discussions within our own lives. We want to listen, educate, and mobilize the public.
Recent and forthcoming publications include:
– 2016. “Science” Handbook of Religion and Society, edited by David Yamane. Springer.
– 2016. “Beyond Access: Social Safety Nets and the Use of Free Health Care Services” with Oren Pizmony-Levy, Sociological Perspectives
-2015. “Place and Culture-Making: Geographic Clumping in the Emergence of Artistic Schools” (First Author) with Tom Gieryn. Poetics 50:20-43.
-2015. “Sociology of Science” with Tom Gieryn, in International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, edited by James Wright. Oxford: Elsevier, UK.
-2012. “Teaching with Movement: Using the Health Privilege Activity to Physically Demonstrate Disparities in Society” with Amy Irby-Shasnami and Tiffani N. Saunders, Teaching Sociology 40(2):123-141.
SAGE Podcast Interview
-2012. “In Sickness and In Health: Undermining the Dominant Ethos of Individual Responsibility through Celluloid Stories” with Bernice A. Pescosolido, in Cinematic Sociology: Social Life in Film, edited by Jean-Anne Sutherland and Kathryn Feltey. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press, SAGE publications.
“On the Spot: Tips for Successfully Handling the Q&A” The Chronicle of Higher Education (with Shiri Noy)
“Science Museums and Cultural Authority: The Case of the Creation Museum” Cosmologics: A Magazine of Science, Religion, and Culture, Harvard Divinity School
“The Politics of Science.” Mobilizing Ideas. The Center for the Study of Social Movements, University of Notre Dame.
“Findings from the 2010/2011, Social and Health Assessment of Patients.”Volunteers in Medicine of Monroe County (with Oren Pizmony-Levy).