Curriculum Vita
Degree & Year in Program

5th year PhD Candidate


Emily Kazyak

Areas of Specialization

Sexualities; LGBTQ Identity; LGBTQ Communities; Queer Theory; Intersectionality; Gender; Inequalities; Qualitative Methods 

About Me

I am a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) with a graduate specialization in Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS). 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.

My scholarship draws upon the theoretical frameworks of social constructionism, queer theory, and intersectionality to explore how competing understandings 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.

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. A related project (with Emily Kazyak and Kelsy Burke), forthcoming in Socius, 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.

At UNL, I have the pleasure of teaching course in both WGS and Sociology. In WGS, I have taught Introduction to WGS (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). 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 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.

Courses Taught

As Instructor of Record:

WMNS 101: Introduction to Women and Gender Studies

WMNS 201: Introduction to LGBTQ/Sexualities Studies

SOCI 309: Drugs and Society

SOCI 355: Sociological Theory

As Recitation Instructor:

SOCI 101: Introduction to Sociology

Select Publications
  • 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
  • Kichler, Rosalind. 2017. “Understanding the Transgender Community: Support and Resiliency in the Face of Discrimination.” Pp. 253-268 in Seeing Social Problems: Readings on Contemporary Issues in the United States, edited by B. Lang and M. Lang. San Diego, CA: Cognella.