If you can read this message, your browser likely does not support web standards. Though you will be able to use this site, you will not see the site as intended.

Endowed Professorships in Social Sciences

Name of Professorship

Appointment Date

Current Holder

Description

Centenary Research Professorship in Social Sciences #1

2008-2011

Betsy Rankin
(Vita)

Funded in 1991, this professorship will support Dr. Rankin's research to learn how to statistically analyze panel data using the latest techniques, i.e.,panel data is pooled time series, cross sectional data where there are a cross section of entities that are observed at more than one point in time. Mastering the techniques used to analyze panel data will benefit both my own research as well as research I do with students. I have three panel data sets that I have been collecting for several years. I have been able to get presentations out of these data sets, but to get papers published from this data, I need to apply the more advanced techniques. One of the data sets is on the sale of lottery tickets across parishes with four years of sales for each of the 64 parishes in Louisiana. Another is a data set dealing with a related issue of the distribution of TOPS dollars across parishes over multiple years, data which I began collecting while on sabbatical a few years ago. The third is a data set Harold Christensen and I have collected for five years on endowments of private colleges and various other variables that the endowments might affect. I generally also have students working on papers that would be much better papers if we used the more advanced techniques. After mastering the techniques myself, I would add a section to my Econometrics class on this topic since students would also benefit from these techniques.

Centenary Research Professorship in Social Science #2/ Research #11

Summer 2012

Matt Weeks
(Vita)

Funded in 1999, this professorship will allow Dr. Weeks and student researcher, Adam Littleton to prove their hypothesis, which is..."How Do You Know When They’re In the Flow?: Establishing measurement parameters for the Flow State.” Based on Adam's research for a class project, he has developed a model for the concept of Flow. He wants to develop this model and empirically test its validity in hopes of using the model of benefit individual experiences and productivity. However, even his initial work is hampered by a lack of good measurement parameters (tools and criteria) for identifying the state of Flow. Dr. Weeks and Adam intend to develop and validity measurement criteria for the Flow state and begin to use these tools to a) assess his model and b) implement aspects of the model into individual experiences.

Centenary Research Professorship in Social Science #3/ Research #12

Summer 2011

Michelle Wolkomir
(Vita)

Funded in 1999, this professorship will allow Professor Wolkomir and student researcher, Brandon Sepulvado to prove their hypothisis — Sociologists who study sexuality have documented the importance of religious beliefs—particularly within Christianity—in shaping emergent attitudes and feelings surrounding homosexuality in the United States. Not surprisingly, this body of research shows that conservative Christians tend to be far less tolerant of homosexuality than their liberal counterparts because they believe that homosexuality defies God’s word and is a sin. This belief, and its attendant heterosexist attitudes and feelings, has substantial implications for social structures, creating and maintaining ideological and political barriers to public policy reforms and changes in social institutions that would allow gay Americans the protections and benefits shared by other citizens. At the more micro-level, such beliefs can also foster powerful dilemmas for individuals caught at the intersection of Christianity and homosexuality. When individuals adhere to conservative Christian belief and then experience homosexual desire, they feel shame, anxiety and fear, and they often worry that these desires threaten their eternal salvation. For a conservative Christian, the recognition of his/her homosexuality sparks an intense struggle to answer the question: “How can I be gay and Christian?” However, because Christianity is by far the dominant religious institution in the U.S., gay Christians need only worry about how to legitimate their sexuality with their faith; they do not face additional stigma because of their faith. In other words, they must reconcile one marginalized cultural identity (homosexual) with a dominant cultural identity (Christian). Homosexuals who are also members of subordinate faith traditions, such as Judaism or Islam, must try to resolve similar tensions between their faith and sexuality by reconciling a marginalized gay identity within the context of a marginalized religious identity. This study is designed to assess whether and how this distinction alters the process of identity reconciliation. More specifically, the two primary questions that guide this research are: 1) What are the processes by which gay Muslims reconcile their sexuality and faith? and 2) In what ways, if any, do these processes vary from that of gay Christians because they involve two marginalized cultural identities?

Centenary Research Professorship in Social Science #4/ Research #13

Summer 2012

Matt Weeks
(Vita)

See Social Science #2 for research project.

Additional research for Social Science #3

Summer 2008

Michelle Wolkomir
(Vita)

This additional funding will allow Dr. Wolkomir and Michelle Holt, student researcher, to survey individuals on valued ideas. Most people, and certainly most scholars, understand how powerfully ideas guide human behavior. Ideas are influential because they provide a framework for interpreting events and are linked to emotions and to self-concept. Valued ideas, and the actions predicated on them, can make us feel like good or bad people, inspiring a range of feelings and psychological states. For this reason, people often resist changing ideas that make them feel good or that enhance their self-worth. Social change, however, often requires that people alter valued ways of thinking, and understanding how and when they are willing and able to do so is therefore a critical sociological task. Using in-depth interviews with 20 members of a Unitarian Universalist Church, this study examines how and when people engage in these kinds of ideological shifts, paying close attention to how ideas can be reshaped within a belief system as opposed to rejecting or switching belief systems entirely. We will also pay close attention to the gender dynamics of shifting ideologies to explore whether and how the process of ideological shifting might vary for men and women. In doing so, we hope to develop theoretical insights into how ideas are changed (but not discarded or invented) and how this process of change may be impacted by social (gender) status.

Centenary Research Professorship in Social Science #5/ Research #14

Summer 2011

Michelle Wolkomir

See above - Social Science #3.

Centenary Research Professorship in Social Science #6/ Research #15

Summer 2010

Joshua Lawrence &
(Vita)
Scott Chirhart
(Vita)

Funded in 1995, this professorship will allow the professor to involve students in research throughout the year as a part of their course work, including the summer, in an ongoing research project. In collaboration with student coworkers, Dr. Lawrence is developing and studying transition metal reagents for perfluoroalkylation of aromatic compounds. They have demonstrated that Fe(CnF2n+1)(I)(CO)4 compounds react with silver trifluoroacetate to transfer the perfluoroalkyl group to a broad range of aromatic compounds in reasonable yields. They have prepared perfluorobutyl analogues of ibuprofen and are collaborating with faculty members in Centenary’s Department of Biology to test these compounds in a live animal model. For the last three years, Dr. Lawrence and his research students (most recently Rebecca McMahen and Kathryn Craigo) have presented their finding at American Chemical Society National Meetings.

Last updated May 22, 2012.