Craig Thor, a junior Sociology major and Political Science minor, originally came to UNL to study mechanical engineering. Toward the end of his freshman year, however, Craig realized his interests didn’t lie in engineering. One of his friends, also an engineering major, changed their major to Sociology. Interested, Craig explored the field and switched his major to Sociology in his sophomore year.
At first, Craig wasn’t sure what he wanted to focus on in his major. But once he began researching social movements and sexuality, he found an area of study in which he was passionate.
During the Spring semester of his sophomore year, Craig aided sociology professor Dr. Regina Werum in a meta study which compared public health records and social movements in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. By collecting and analyzing data from a range of past studies, Craig and Dr. Werum were able to correlate data such as mother mortality rates and water quality with such events as political protests. Craig continued working with Dr. Werum through the summer.
That summer, Craig also attended an American Sociological Association (ASA) conference in San Diego. Along with being given a chance to travel, this conference also gave Craig a glimpse into current research trends. “I was able to scope out what was going on in research about sexuality and social movements,” Craig said. “It definitely gave me a chance to see what kind of work I might want to do in the future.”
Now, in the fall semester of his junior year, Craig is working as a USTARS (Undergraduate Sociology Teaching and Research Student) with Dr. Kelsey Burke. The new research project they’re undertaking involves analyzing the Twitter feeds of two churches: one in Lincoln, Nebraska, and the other in Oxford, Mississippi. Craig and Dr. Burke are currently interested in analyzing how these churches tweet about female church members and other topics. One surprising trends from their ongoing data collection, though, are the personalities behind the tweets.
“The church from Lincoln tends to be more of a general news feed about the church itself,” Craig said. The Oxford church, on the other hand, is mainly controlled by the church’s pastor. “The Oxford pastor talks about his church as well, but a surprising amount of his feed, which is also the church’s feed, is about sports events at the University of Mississippi.”
Craig will continue with this research through the school year. He hopes to continue conducting research relating to sexuality in the future.
Story by Lane Chasek
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