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Willa Cather Professor Sociology jmcquillan2@unl.edu 706 Oldfather Hall

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Curriculum Vitae

Current Research

My research focuses on social inequality, with special emphasis on changing structures and practices to increase equity and wellbeing. Through collaborations (Lead by Lynn White and David Johnson), created the two-wave, I was part of the team that created the National Survey of Fertility Barriers public use data set for studying fertility and infertility. Particularly through collaboration with Arthur L. Greil and many graduate students (who are now professors or working in applied settings for research organizations such as the Center for Disease Control), we helped answer questions about psychosocial dimensions of fertility and infertility – including health disparities. My new fertility-related research is using the German longitudinal Pairfam dataset, continues collaboration with Dr. Greil, and involves colleagues at the German Federal Institute for Population Research (Martin Bujard and Jasmin Passett-Wittig).

I combine my interests in social inequality and health to work on informal science education as a vehicle for engaging youth with science and meaningful careers. With team members Patricia Wonch Hill and Amy Spiegel, we conducted a four-wave Science Identity Study on middle-school youth. In addition to publications from this project, I was honored that the TEDxYouthLincoln team invited me to give a talk (“How do we find science kinds of people?”) at the 2017 youth event.

I lead a National Institutes of Health funded Science Education Partnership Award, Worlds of Connections, that engages youth with network science for health research for bio-behavioral and biomedical careers. Through collaborations with UNL Undergraduates and colleagues at UNO who lead NE STEM 4U, we published four informal activities for youth to explore network science for health. Through supplemental funding we invited artists to create pro-vaccination posters that are available for free on the worlds of connections web page and will be in a forthcoming book from the University of Nebraska press. 

I enjoy collaborations that bring sociological perspectives to a variety of questions and fields, focusing on social structures at individual, interactional, and institutional levels of analyses using quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. In the 2021 “Nebraska Lecture” I make the case for why sociologists are valuable for any team seeking to tackle “Grand Challenges”.

Student Opportunities

I am seeking graduate students who are interested in 1) diffusion of innovations through social networks; 2) social identities and inequalities; 3) attitudes towards innovations in food production and food systems; 4) public understanding of health innovations (e.g. medically assisted reproduction and vaccines). I enjoy collaborating with students and supporting careers in practice settings and in academic settings.

I seek undergraduate students for three kinds of research and teaching opportunities through grant funded, USTAR or UCARE: 1) leading middle-school aged youth in afterschool programs engaging with network science (see the Worlds of Connections opportunity on Handshake); 2) public understanding and attitudes towards engineering cellular agriculture based food innovations (i.e. science, knowledge, and technology).

Current Teaching

I enjoy teaching courses from Introduction to Sociology (SOCI 101), to basic research methods (SOCI 205 & 206), Social Psychology (SOCI 349), Sociology of Health and Health Professions (SOCI 353), and graduate courses in similar areas. In some summers I co-teach with Wendy Smith or Patricia Wonch Hill on courses for k-12 STEM teachers on Activating Youth STEM Identities and Systems and Systems Models with Social Networks.

Selected Publications
Stevenson, Nikolaus, Amie S Sommers, Neal Grandgenett, William Tapprich, Julia McQuillan, Michelle Phillips, Rachael Jensen, Christine E. Cutucache. 2022. “Replicating or Franchising a STEM Afterschool Program Model: Core Elements of Programmatic Integrity.” International Journal of STEM Education. Available online: https://stemeducationjournal.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40594-021-00320-0
McQuillan, Julia, Jennifer A. Andersen, Terceira A. Berdahl, and Jeff Willett. 2022 Associations of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Depressive Symptoms over Time: Are there Differences by Education, Race/Ethnicity, and Gender? Arthritis Care and Research.  Online-first June 2021. https://doi-org.libproxy.unl.edu/10.1002/acr.24730

McQuillan, Julia, Jasmin Passet-Wittig, Arthur L. Greil, and Martin Bujard.2021. Is perceived inability to procreate associated with life satisfaction? Evidence from a German panel study, Reproductive Biomedicine & Society Online. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rbms.2021.09.004

McQuillan, Julia and Nestor Hernandez. 2021. Real Life Conundrums in the Struggle for Institutional Transformations. Gender & Society. 35(3), 300–329. https://doi.org/10.1177/08912432211013147

McQuillan, Julia., Arthur.L. Greil, Anna. Rybińska, Stacy. Tiemeyer, Karina Shreffler, and Colleen.Colaner Warner. 2021. Is a Dyadic Stressor Experienced as Equally Distressing by Both Partners? The Case of Perceived Fertility Problems. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 38 (1), 342-362. DOI: 10.1177/0265407520953903 journals.sagepub.com/home/spr

Hill, P. W., McQuillan, J., Spiegel, A.N., & Diamond, J. (2018). Discovery orientation, cognitive schemas, and disparities in science identity in early adolescence. Sociological Perspectives 61(1), 99-125. doi:10.1177/0731121417724774

Hill, P. W., McQuillan, J., Talbert, E. J., Spiegel, A. N., Gauthier, G. R., & Diamond, J. 2017. Science Possible Selves and Desire to be a Scientist: Mindsets, Gender Bias, and Confidence during Early Adolescence, Social Sciences, 6(2), 55.

Recent Grant Activity

2022  “Manufacturing USA Technology Roadmap for Cellular Agriculture: Initiative for Convergent-manufacturing Agriculture for Food for Equity (I-CAFÉ)”. National Institutes of Standards and Technology. Role: Co-PI. PI: Michael Sealy. $300,000.

2021   “The Worlds of Connections: Vaccine Hesitancy” Julia McQuillan (PI), Judy Diamond (Co-PI), Patricia Wonch Hill (Co-PI), Elizabeth Van Wormer (Co-PI). 6/1/2021. National Institutes of Health. Science Education Partnership Award, Supplement. $54,000.

2020   “RAPID: Using Popular Media to Educate Youth About the Biology of Viruses and the Current COVID-19 Pandemic” Judy Diamond (PI), Julia McQuillan (Co-PI), Patricia Wonch Hill (Co-PI), Elizabeth VanWormer (Co-PI). 5/8/2020 NSF COVID-19 DRL 2028026. $200,000.

2018-2023  “Worlds of Connections: Engaging Youth with Health Research through Network Science and Stories in Augmented Reality” (PI). $1.2 Million. SEPA NIGMS National Institutes of Health.

Other information

I was previously chair of the department and, before that, director of the Bureau of Sociological Research. I have enjoyed several service roles with Sociologists for Women in Society and the American Sociological Association.


Ph.D., University of Connecticut

Areas of Specialization:

  • Fertility
  • Gender
  • Inequality in STEM
  • Infertility
  • Public Understanding of Science
  • Science Identities
  • Social Psychology
  • Family
  • Quantitative Methods