Specialization/Area of Interest
Sociology of Education (K-16); social inequality (specifically race, gender); sociology of family; rural/urban sociology; organizations; qualitative methods
After working in low-income communities across the U.S., Andrea applied for graduate school in sociology to better understand organizational and structural inequalities in our society. While sociology was a new field for her initially, she has been successful in both her teaching and research. Her comprehensive exam was in inequalities, with an emphasis on race, gender, and social class. She has conducted research examining inequalities in primary, secondary, and higher educational institutions. She has also taught multiple courses on issues related to sex, gender, sexuality, race, class, family, and education.
Mixed methods design, qualitative design, regression analyses (OLS & logistic), in-depth and cognitive interviews, focus groups, survey design, STATA & SAS
Andrea K. Johnson is a PhD Candidate (ABD) in the Department of Sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She graduated with an MA in Sociology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2019) and a BA in Business Administration and German from Doane University (2010). She has conducted research with the Nebraska Department of Education, as well as conducted research with Dr. Regina Werum on projects funded by the UNL’s Office of Research and Economic Development as well as the National Science Foundation. She has received multiple teaching awards the UNL Sociology Department. She has taught multiple courses on issues related to sex, gender, sexuality, race, class, family, and education. Additionally, she created and taught an upper-level special topics course, Sex & Gender & Romantic Comedies. Andrea’s career goal is to integrate her expertise as a qualitative researcher and sociologist in an academic or non-profit, or for-profit setting.
Andrea’s’ research program centers questions of educational inequalities across multiple domains: gender, race, class, mental health status, level of instruction, funding, and geography. Her existing work challenges the idea that education is the great equalizer and explores how the benefits of education are disproportionately distributed. She uses qualitative or mixed methods to gather data in order to study the complexities of the U.S. educational system, from the level of kindergarten to the PhD level.
In her dissertation, When Counselors Aren’t Enough: Supporting Students’ Mental Health in Nebraska Public Schools, Andrea analyzes how Nebraska public schools are responding to students’ mental health needs, especially in light of rising mental illness rates among students are combined with strained school-based resources. To that end, her dissertation involves qualitative analysis of 55 educator interviews from dozens of public schools across 27 Nebraska originally collected for the Nebraska Department of Education. Her analysis explores how schools use formal mental health processes (a federal, state, or district program or mandate) and informal mental health responses (school-specific responses) and how the mental health support practices provided vary across different levels of child development (elementary school, middle school, and high school), location (rural, town, or city), and school-level socioeconomic composition. While the interviews were collected prior to the pandemic, findings from her analysis inform the current landscape of schools and mental health, and how educators must find creative ways to support the mental health of their students in addition to focusing on academics.
But wait! There is more to Andrea than just her academic accomplishments! She has had the opportunity to serve as president of the UNL Sociology Graduate Student Association. In that role, her leadership focused on supporting the collective interests of graduate students. To enhance efforts to recruit a more diverse graduate student body, she directed and did the voicework for the 2021 UNL Graduate Student Recruitment Video. In addition, Andrea used her leadership skills to optimize student meetings and build collaborations across the UNL Sociology Department, while also updating the student constitution for the first time in 20 years. At the university level, she served on the UNL College of Arts and Sciences Committee on Student Academic Distinction, Awards, and Appeals.
And In her community, she served as a racial equity consultant for Launch Leadership and the University of Nebraska Kearney Foundations for Learning Classes. In her free time, Andrea volunteers for Launch Leadership (an educational nonprofit that works with middle school and high school students across the country), reading for her book club, and finding new adventures – the most recent being hiking Machu Picchu! She is a life-long learner, and is eager to bring her experiences, leadership, and research skills to an academic, non-profit, or for-profit setting.
Hill, P.W., Werum, R., Jochman, J., Johnson, A., & Spiegel, A.N. Moving the Needle: How institutional Characteristics Shape Women’s Graduation Rates in Engineering and Computer Science. R&R at the International Journal of STEM Education.
Awards and Accomplishments
- J.J. & Eleanor S. Ogle Fellowship, UNL Department of Sociology, Spring 2022
- Inaugural Peer Mentor Award, UNL Department of Sociology/Nebraska Association of Sociology Graduate Students, Spring 2021
- Research Assistant for Dr. Regina Werum, UNL Research Council, Fall 2018
- Sociology TA Professional Development Award, UNL Department of Sociology, Spring 2021
- 39th Annual John Lux Award for her Outstanding Contribution to Developing Young Leaders in Nebraska, Launch Leadership, 2019
Specialization/Area of Interest
Sexualities; LGBTQ Identity; LGBTQ Communities; Queer Theory; Intersectionality; Gender; Inequalities; Qualitative Methods
I am a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) with a graduate specialization in Women and Gender Studies. In my final year, I am funded by the competitive J.J. & Eleanor S. Ogle Fellowship, which provides full financial support to an outstanding doctoral candidate in their last year of the sociology program. The Ogle Fellowship recognizes my exceptional record in both teaching and research, which includes a solo-authored article, collaboration on multiple research projects, regular presentations at national sociological conferences, and consistently high teaching evaluations.
My scholarship is located within the sociological subfields of sexualities, sex/gender, and inequalities. My research focuses on contemporary lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer-identified (LGBTQ) people’s identities and communities. I draw upon the theoretical frameworks of social constructionism, queer theory, and intersectionality to explore how competing understandings of gay/queer identity (including transgender identity) are experienced by LGBTQ people at a diversity of intersections in a variety of contexts.
For my dissertation project, “Old, Gray, and Gay: LGBTQ Aging and Identity,” I conducted life history interviews with 60 self-identified LGBTQ elders. Whereas most research on gay/queer aging operates within a deficiency framework, comparing LGBTQ elders to their heterosexual counterparts, my research asks what meanings LGBTQ elders construct for their identities and how these change with aging. Through recruitment of a diverse sample, I further explore how intersectional identities like gender, race, and geography shape the lifetime experience of LGBTQ identities. My data collection was supported by a competitive internal grant, the Nicholas Babchuk Graduate Student Research Award.
The other strand of my scholarship explores transgender (trans) identities and communities independent of the larger LGBTQ umbrella. In my publication in the Journal of Homosexuality, “‘What Has Kept Me Alive:’ Transgender Communities and Support,” I use in-depth interviews with transgender people living in “Townsville” to examine the support LGBTQ communities provide to trans members. By concentrating on the contexts in which support occurs, my study adds to trans studies and sexualities scholarship concerned with how LGBTQ people experience LGBTQ communities. A related project (with Emily Kazyak and Kelsy Burke) uses data collected on the 2018 Nebraska Annual Social Indicators Survey (NASIS) to explore the underlying logics Nebraskans use to justify their opinion on transgender bathroom use. Our paper is forthcoming in Socius. My future research will continue to expand scholarship on LGBTQ elders and the ways LGBTQ people construct their sexual identities amongst competing, changing meanings.
At UNL, I have the pleasure of teaching course in both Women and Gender Studies and Sociology. In Women and Gender Studies, I have taught Introduction to Women and Gender Studies (WMNS 101) and Introduction to LGBTQ/Sexualities Studies (WMNS 201). In Sociology, I have taught Drugs and Society (SOCI 309) and Sociological Theory (SOCI 355). I have also taught Introduction to Sociology (SOCI 101) as a recitation instructor. In 2021, I earned the Sociology TA Professional Development Award ($1000) in recognition of outstanding teaching that enhances students’ understanding of inequalities.
For the past three years, I have served as the chair of #unrulysociologists, a graduate student-run group dedicated to public sociology and scholar activism. In this role I developed events designed to bridge academic and community expertise and coordinated trainings on topics such how to testify at legislative sessions, how to write an op-ed, and how to provide allyship to undocumented students. In 2021, I earned an Honorable Mention Student Luminary Award from UNL, which recognizes outstanding leadership and a continued commitment to improving campus community.
I earned my Master of Arts from the UNL in 2016. Prior to starting at UNL, I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Sociology/Women and Gender Studies from New College of Florida in 2014. I still miss the beach, but I am learning to love seasons (except winter). In my spare time I enjoy vegan cooking, various crafting projects, seeing live music, and taking road trips. I have one cat named Orlando. We enjoy watching Star Trek together.
- Kichler, Rosalind. In press. “‘What Has Kept Me Alive:’ Transgender Communities and Support.” Journal of Homosexuality. https://doi.org/10.1080/00918369.2021.1943277
- Kazyak, Emily, Kelsy Burke, Rosalind Kichler, and Lora McGraw. Anticipated November 2021. ““Pee in Peace” or “Make Everyone Uncomfortable”: Public Perceptions of Transgender Rights.” Socius.
Awards and Accomplishments
- J.J. & Eleanor S. Ogle Fellowship ($8250), Full Support for Outstanding Doctoral Candidates for One Semester; Sociology Department, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Academic Year 2021-22.
- Sociology TA Professional Development Award ($1000), Recognition of Outstanding Teaching to Enhance Students’ Understanding of Inequalities; Sociology Department, University of Nebraska- Lincoln, Academic Year 2020-21.
- Student Luminary Award Honorable Mention, Recognition of Leadership and Commitment to Improving the Campus or Community; Office of Student Affairs, University of Nebraska- Lincoln, Academic Year 2020-21.
- Preparing Future Faculty Program Fellow (Summer 2020)
- Dean’s Fellowship ($5000), Recognition of Demonstrated Scholarship and Scholastic and Creative Promise Awarded to Advanced Masters and Doctoral Students; Graduate Fellowship Committee, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Academic Year 2020-21.
Elizabeth Straley studies health disparities, biosociological methods, and inequalities, especially among the LGBTQ population. She is currently completing her mixed-methods primary data collection dissertation addressing LGB health and resilience in university students. Her dissertation was supported by an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, “Population Neuroscience Approaches to Minority Discrimination and Health” and utilized cutting-edge survey and experimental methods, along with novel biosignals (i.e., electrodermal activity and electroencephalography). Using this new data source, Elizabeth’s research illustrates the differences and similarities amongst LGB and heterosexual college students as they experience and respond to stress.
She has also used multilevel modeling to investigate state-level restrictive policies regarding abortion and their association with women’s health and well-being in her Master’s Thesis and to examine police deployment tactics within and between neighborhoods. All of Elizabeth’s research projects pivot around the importance of the consequences of in- and out- group stigma and stress for marginalized populations. Her teaching experience includes both online and in person courses ranging from 10 to 90 students on the topics of Statistical Methods for the Social Sciences, Sociology of Crime, Drugs and Society, and independent studies with undergraduates on data collection methods using biomedical equipment (electrodermal wristbands and electroencephalography nets) to investigate differential biological responses to simulated social stimuli.
Her work using biosignals has appeared in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience and Social Neuroscience and she has work under review at mainstream sociology journals. In the future, Elizabeth hopes to investigate health disparities and health care access/utilization for marginalized communities using both survey and possibly biomedical measurement in the field.