Bradley Johnson is a graduate student in the Department of Religion at Rice University. He specializes in the interplay between religion and politics in southern Africa, and the history of millenarian movements. At the moment, his research focuses on religious responses to and interpretations of world-breaking catastrophes, particularly climate change and similar anthropogenic disasters. He earned his master's degree in religion from Wake Forest University, and his bachelor's from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Simranjit Khalsa is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at Rice. Her research interests include the religious identity and practice of religious minorities, race and ethnicity, and immigration. In 2016, she won the Seth Balkishan Das Singhal Award from the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Rice for her paper entitled, â€śDefining Sikhism: Boundaries of Religion and Ethnicity Among Sikhs in the United States.â€ť She is currently conducting research with Sikh practitioners in the US, UK, and India. She earned a bachelorâ€™s degree in sociology and planning, public policy, and management from the University of Oregon in 2013.
Sharan Kaur Mehta is a graduate student in the Department of Sociology at Rice. Sharan works on the RPLPâ€™s Religion Among Scientists in International Context (RASIC) project and the Religious Understandings of Science (RUS) project. Her research interests include religion, interfaith relations, race and ethnicity, gender, and inequality in STEM education. Her masterâ€™s research focuses on the lived experiences of Muslim and Sikh Americans and explores the effect of religious discrimination and bias-related violence.Â She graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2012 with a bachelorâ€™s degree in chemistry with a minor in sociology.Â
Esmeralda SanchezÂ is a graduate student in the Department of Sociology at Rice, where she works with the RPLP and the Houston Education Research Consortium (HERC). She began her doctoral studies in sociology at Rice in 2016 to focus on how religion and other issues affect educational achievement. She previously served as deputy director of the Faith and Education Coalition for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), Americaâ€™s largest Hispanic evangelical organization, where she led national, state, and local initiatives promoting civic engagement among faith communities in educational equity issues. She has a masterâ€™s degree from the University of Texas at Dallas and a bachelorâ€™s from Southern Methodist University.
Cleve V. Tinsley IV
is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Religion at Rice. His research explores critical understandings of social scientific and historical approaches to the study of religion, particularly African-American religion. More specifically, his research focuses on religion and identity construction in African-American communities. He is a recipient of the Fund for Theological Education's Doctoral Fellowship and, prior to enrolling at Rice, earned a Master of Divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary. He is a graduate and teaching assistant at the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning
, directed by his doctoral adviser, Anthony B. Pinn.
Undergraduate Student Fellows
is a senior at Rice studying English. She is involved with various RPLP projects, including â€śFaith at Work: An Empirical Studyâ€ť and â€śReaching Evangelical American Leaders to Change Hearts and Minds.â€ť Prior to working at the RPLP, Shannon worked at Riceâ€™s Baker Institute for Public Policy
, the UK Parliament, and the 1st Texas Court of Appeals. She hopes to attend graduate school or law school upon graduation from Rice.
Visiting Research Associates
received her doctorate in religion from Rice University in May 2017. Her dissertation, The Ethics of Whiteness: Race, Religion, and Social Transformation in South Africa
, explores how progressive white Christians living in South Africa engage with past and present racial injustice. Working at the intersection of anthropology of religion and critical race studies, her research focuses on how religious commitments shape ethical and political practice and inspire social change. Her writings on race, religion, gender, sexuality, African Christianity, ethics, and evangelicalism have been published in Syndicate Theology
, Religious Studies Review
, and The Immanent Frame
Non-resident Research Fellows
David R. Johnson
is an assistant professor of higher education leadership at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he specializes in the sociology of higher education, work and organizations, religion, and science. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno, he was an RPLP postdoctoral fellow from 2012 to 2015. He completed his doctoral training in sociology at the University of Georgia. David is the author of A Fractured Profession: Commercialism and Conflict in Academic Science
(Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017). His scholarship can also be found in top social science journals such as The Journal of Higher Education
, Social Forces
, Sociological Science
, Public Understanding of Science
, and Science, Technology, and Human Values
Jared Peifer is an assistant professor of management at Baruch College. He was an RPLP postdoctoral fellow from 2011 to 2013. He received his Ph.D. in sociology from Cornell University in 2011. Jaredâ€™s research primarily focuses on the moral motivations of people as they engage in various economic activity. Most of his work in this vein explores the moral motivations of investors by focusing on socially responsible investing. He has also published work on charitable giving and environmental consumption, and is currently working on articles that deal with voluntary simplicity, materialism, and the commercialization of scientific research.
Pamela Prickett is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Amsterdam. From 2015 to 2017 she was an RPLP postdoctoral fellow. As a sociologist Pamela uses ethnographic and historical methods to understand how poverty and inequality are experienced, structured, and reproduced within urban communities. Her current book project, Believing in South Central, draws on more than five years of fieldwork in an African-American Muslim community in a low-income neighborhood in Los Angeles. The book examines the everyday lives of the pious urban poor, including the ways they draw on each other and local religious organizations for social support in light of a changing urban landscape. Her work has appeared in Gender & Society and City & Community.
Chris Scheitle is an assistant professor of sociology at West Virginia University. Broadly, his research examines the social structure and dynamics of religion in the United States, with a focus on three specific areas. The first explores the relationship between religion and science. A second examines innovations in how religion is organized in the United States, especially in regards to the growth of so-called parachurch organizations. The last area of research looks at crimes against religious congregations. He has published two books, over two dozen scholarly articles, and has been awarded two research grants from the National Science Foundation. His research has been featured in a number of media outlets, including USA Today, CNN.com, and ABC News.
Brandon Vaidyanathan is an associate professor of sociology at The Catholic University of America. Born and raised in the Arabian Gulf, he holds bachelorâ€™s and masterâ€™s degrees in management from Canada and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Notre Dame. His research examines cultural dimensions of religious, commercial, medical, and scientific institutions, and has been published in journals such as Social Problems, Social Forces, Sociology of Religion, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, and Journal of the American Academy of Religion.