I am currently Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at the Rice University Department of Sociology, having joined the department in the fall of 2008. In addition, I am a Rice Scholar at the Baker Institute for Public Policy and director of the Religion and Public Life Program in the Social Sciences Research Institute.
Exploring mechanisms of institutional change draws together my research. Specifically, I am interested in how individuals develop cognitive schema--ways of interpreting the world--that are at odds with institutions that constrain them. I then examine how individuals use such frameworks to bring changes to these larger institutions. My research addresses this theoretical topic in the areas of religion, immigration, science, and gender.
I am the author of two books with Oxford University Press, twenty-seven peer-reviewed research articles, and numerous op-eds. I have received 4 million dollars in grants and awards, including those from the National Science Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, John Templeton Foundation, and Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. My latest book, Science Vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think, published by Oxford University Press in May 2010, was chosen by Times Higher Education as an international book of the week and named a book of the year on religion by the Huffington Post. My research has been covered in the Annual Review of Sociology, Nature, Social Forces, and American Behavioral Scientist, as well as in national and international news media, including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, and Xinhua News.
I received a PhD in 2004 from Cornell University, where I was the recipient of the Class of 2004 Graduate Student Baccalaureate Award for Academic Excellence and Community Service. In 2011 I was named among the top five percent of junior faculty teachers at Rice University. Over the next few years, my research will examine how scientists in six different nations understand religion and ethics. In addition, through a cooperative project with the American Association for the Advancement of Science Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion program, I will study how four different US religious groups understand science. I am currently writing a book with Anne Lincoln, tentatively titled Beyond the Ideal Scientist, that examines how women and men at elite research universities negotiate careers as academic scientists alongside family life. I teach classes at the graduate and undergraduate level on immigration, sociology of science, classical sociological theory, and sociology of religion.