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Curriculum Vita

Degree & Year in the Program           

PhD Candidate in Sociology, 5th year


Julia McQuillan, Kristen Olson, Bilal Khan, Lisa Kort-Butler, Angela Palmer-Wackerky, David Warner

Areas of Specialization          

Medical Sociology, Health Disparities, Social Determinants of Health, Gerontology, Life Course

Comprehensive Exam Area


About me

I am a current PhD student in sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Go Big Red!). I graduated with an associate degree in Science from Southeast Community College-Lincoln in 2012, as well as a B.A. in psychology (2015) and a M.A. in Sociology (2017) from Nebraska. I spent 10 years working in the healthcare field before returning to college, where I first learned about the health disparities facing many Americans. Through my research I hope to work with others to understand and reduce inequity in healthcare, improve the quality of care provided to patients by their healthcare professionals, and empower patients, their families, and caregivers to advocate for their health. My aim is to be an interdisciplinary scholar, and I have taken graduate coursework in gerontology and health communication in addition to my graduate work in sociology.

One particular focus of my previous work is understanding how societal actors attribute responsibility in health conditions that have policy relevance. As an example, my work on diabetes made evident the less stringent approach to treatment standards and quality of care for those who society blame for developing type 2 diabetes when compared to those presumed to have no control over the development of type 1 diabetes. I am currently working on a project with faculty at UNMC exploring racial disparities in diabetes outcomes.

My dissertation examines how social and structural factors affect the development, progression, and receipt of medical care for people with ALS using a social epidemiological approach. ALS is a devastating diagnosis and understanding the complicated relationship of social factors to the disease is an important part of working towards delaying or preventing onset, slowing progression, and ending inequities in access to medical care for people diagnosed with ALS. In all of the analyses I focus on social location indicators (e.g. level of education, gender, occupation type). Insights from my dissertation have the potential to create a framework for investigating the transmission of information and the access to potential treatments for ALS, as well as tests current sociological theories in a relatively understudied disease. Given the cost of current treatments on the market for ALS, this is an important area of research and one that potentially can be translated to other diseases.

I am the former president of the Nebraska Association of Sociology Graduate Students and I have been active on several university committees. I am a UNL Ronald E. McNair Scholar Alum and a current UNL Ronald E. McNair Graduate Student Mentor. I currently serve on the Minority Scholars Committee for the Midwest Sociological Society and a member of the American Sociological Association and the Population Association of America.

When I am not on campus at Nebraska, my hobbies include full-time RVing, listening to podcasts, and learning the ins-and-outs of competitive BBQ with my husband, Jasen. I am also active in patient advocacy for those diagnosed with Diabetes as well as for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis patients.





Courses Taught


Soci 353: Sociology of Health and Health Professions, Soci 101: Introduction to Sociology

Teaching Assistant

Soci 252: Health, Medicine, and Society, Soci 311: Sociology of Juvenile Delinquency, Soci 353: Sociology of Health and Health Professions, Soci 101: Introduction to Sociology

Select Publications

Andersen, J. A. (2018). Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and a “Death with Dignity”. OMEGA-Journal of Death and Dying, 0030222818788254.

Andersen, J. A., & Gibbs, L. (2017). Does insulin therapy matter? Determinants of diabetes care outcomes. Primary Care Diabetes.

Andersen, J. A., Wylie, L. E., & Brank, E. M. (2017). Public health framing and attribution: Analysis of the first lady’s remarks and news coverage on childhood obesityCogent Social Sciences, 3(1), 1268748.