Ph.D. Pennsylvania State University
Areas of Specialization:
My research aims to understand how social structures and practices create and reinforce inequality. As a sociologist and demographer, my approach draws on life course theory to look at individual transitions (and the trajectories in which they are embedded) and their cumulative (both additive and interactive) effect at the population level to illuminate the structural influences on human lives. This orientation does not discount the role of agency in individual lives, but asserts that social structure is paramount because it defines the set of alternatives among which individuals may choose. Thus, my research examines: (1) How individuals’ lives unfold over time within the opportunities and constraints afforded by their position in the social structure, as defined by gender, race/ethnicity, and marital status; and (2) How population-level normalized patterns of behavior, reflecting cumulated individual experiences, demonstrate the (largely) invisible social structures and practices that organize the life course.
In my efforts to understand how social structure and practices create and reinforce inequality across the life course, my research has been concerned with two board substantive areas—Work & Retirement and Heath & Well-Being. Increasingly, my research agenda is moving towards life course models of stratification in health, disability, and mortality. My research has appeared in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Social Science Research, Social Science and Medicine, Social Forces, Population Research and Policy Review, the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, and several edited volumes.