Michael McDowell is a junior at Rice studying sociology and religion. Under the mentorship of Elaine Howard Ecklund, he is conducting a senior honors thesis on the differences in political preferences between generations of evangelicals. Michael worked for the Houston Education Research Consortium prior to RPLP. He hopes to attend graduate school after graduating from Rice, with long-term interest in the broad intersection of theology and sociology.
Visiting Research Fellows
Rachel C. Schneider
completed a doctorate in religion at 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. Rachel brings a background in qualitative research methods to RPLP projects on faith at work and religion and inequality. Her writings on race, gender, sexuality, African Christianity, and evangelicalism have been published in Religions
, 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. Jared’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 bachelor’s and master’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.