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Public Sociology Award


ESS Public Sociology Award

In 2022 ESS created two Public Sociology Awards this year, one for Pre-Tenure/Early Career (including graduate students) and Post-Tenure/Mid or later career Sociologists (inside or outside the academy).  These awards seek to recognize sociologists who have both done cutting-edge sociological research and engaged in meaningful public work using that research.  Meaningful public work here includes high profile public dissemination, such as Op-Eds or public media appearances, but especially values sustained public work that uses sociological skills and research in ways that help organizations or persons with which the scholar works, helps resist policies by institutions or government that cause harm and promote policies that help people, direct service to research participants, and in other ways.   The awards seek to recognize sociological work that improves public welfare, broadly understood, or the lives of research participants.  Finally, rather than seek to recognize the single “best” public sociologist, these awards seek to encourage public by recognizing, where appropriate,  multiple scholars. 


Nominations must include a letter of nomination, and may also include supporting documents, such as publications, reports, and/or letters from stakeholders, including organizational, governmental, or community partners.   Please send these materials by February 1, 2023 in one email to Professors Carrie Lee Smith (, Joya Misra ( and Rob Smith (, Chair.

2022 Recipients:


Dr. Brittany Pearl Battle is an Assistant Professor in the Sociology Department at Wake Forest University. She is also the co-founder of Triad Abolition Project, a grassroots organization based in Winston-Salem, NC, working to dismantle the carceral state. Her research agenda includes social and family policy, courts, social justice, and carceral logics. She teaches courses on social justice, abolition and transformative justice, and courts and criminal procedure. She is currently working on a book manuscript (under contract with NYU Press),“They’re Stealing My Opportunity to Be a Father:” The Child Support System and State Intervention in the Family, which examines the carceral logics of the state’s intervention in the family in this system. She is also currently working on a project examining the perspectives of abolitionist activists and organizers who were involved in the 2020 uprising, a project examining evictions in Forsyth County, NC during the Covid19 pandemic, and a project exploring the experiences of criminal legal system defendants and asylum seekers under various forms of state surveillance and community confinement. Her community work regularly includes political education, such as workshops and teach-ins, and direct actions, including marches and letter writing events in support of incarcerated people. Her praxis of scholarship and activism has been recognized with the 2021 Sociologists for Women in Society’s Feminist Activism Award and the 2020 Praxis Award from the American Society of Criminology’s Division on Critical Criminology and Social Justice. She is also a Fellow with the Institute for Research on Poverty’s Emerging Poverty Scholars Program.




A member of ESS since attending her first meeting in 1995 as a graduate student, Deborah J. Cohan, Ph.D. is a public sociologist and author of the sociological memoir, Welcome to Wherever We Are: A Memoir of Family, Caregiving, and Redemption (Rutgers 2020).  Cohan is Professor of Sociology at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort, a writer for Psychology Today and a frequent contributor to Inside Higher Ed, Ms. Magazine, and The Good Men Project. Her work has appeared in the Modern Love column of The New York Times, Teen Vogue, and Utne Reader.


Regularly featured as an expert for national media on a range of issues, Cohan has been cited in: CNN, MSN, Newsweek, Real Simple, Parents, Good Housekeeping, USA Today, US News & World Report, Cosmopolitan, Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides, Elite Daily, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, TODAY, Bankrate, Vox, Slate, Salon, Vice News, Huffington Post, Bustle, Romper, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and The Christian Science Monitor.

Cohan offers talks and workshops on topics including: public sociology; crafting a more creative life as an academic; self-care and social justice; caregiving and grief; compassion fatigue; publishing more, even at a teaching intensive institution; using memoir to teach almost anything; gender-based violence; and, body image. Cohan has done domestic violence work in four states and worked as a counselor and clinical supervisor at the first abuser intervention program in the United States. She serves as an expert consultant in cases of domestic and sexual violence.




Kevin Escudero is an Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies and an affiliated faculty member in the Sociology Department and Population Studies and Training Center at Brown University. His research and teaching focus on comparative studies of race, ethnicity, and Indigeneity; U.S. imperialism and settler colonialism; immigration; social movements; and law. Kevin's book, Organizing While Undocumented (New York University Press, 2020), examines Asian and Latinx undocumented immigrant youth's strategic use of an intersectional movement identity to simultaneously affirm intra-movement heterogeneity and build coalitions with members of similarly situated groups. His current book project, Imperial Unsettling, considers Indigenous CHamoru and Asian immigrants' participation in Guåhan (Guam)'s decolonization movement. The son of a Vietnamese/Cambodian refugee mother and Bolivian immigrant father, Kevin is deeply committed to community engaged, public facing research which benefits members of the immigrant community in the U.S. today. These efforts have included working as a Graduate Student Researcher on a project to improve campus climate for undocumented students at UC Berkeley, serving as the Special Advisor to the Provost for Undocumented and DACAmented students at Brown University, and collaborating with immigrant student organizations across Rhode Island to share strategies and approaches for increasing resources and student support.



Jessie Daniels, PhD is Professor of Sociology at Hunter College and The Graduate Center, CUNY. She is an internationally recognized expert on internet manifestations of racism, and the author of several books, including White Lies (Routledge,1997) and Cyber Racism (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009), which examine white supremacist ideology on either side of the rise of the popular internet. Recent articles on this topic include, “The Algorithmic Rise of the Alt-Right,” (2018) and “Twitter and White Supremacy: A Love Story” (2017). She is at work on a new book (as yet untitled) that focuses on those combatting white supremacy in the streets, online and around the world.


She has been called a “pioneer in digital sociology” (Contexts, 2014). She has co-authored two books, Being a Scholar in the Digital Era (with Polly Thistlethwaite) and Going Public (with Arlene Stein), about how digital technologies are changing the work academics do. She is also the author of dozens of peer-reviewed articles in academic journals and in 2022, she became a regular columnist for DAME magazine. Daniels is a Research Associate at the Oxford Internet Institute (2020-present), a Faculty Associate at the Harvard Berkman Klein Center, and a past Faculty Fellow at the Data & Society Research Institute (2018-2019). Her latest book is Nice White Ladies: The Truth about White Supremacy, Our Role in It, and How We Can Help Dismantle It (Seal Press 2021). The book received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews and was included on their list of Best Nonfiction of 2021.



Óscar F. Gil-García is a Center for Diversity Innovation Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the University at Buffalo and an assistant professor of Human Development at Binghamton University. He majored in sociology at Vassar College and at UC Santa Barbara where he completed a MA/PhD. As a UC Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA, he broadened his expertise to health disparities research. Dr. Gil-García’s current book project, tentatively titled, “Legacies of Forced Migration and Photographic Testimonio of Indigenous Maya in the Americas,” examines the overarching problem of state policies at the border and their corresponding effects on individuals and the bonds of families. It documents how traumatic memories associated to the Guatemalan war (1960-1996) and family separations form part of the everyday violence experienced by Indigenous Maya who live in Mexico and the United States. Preliminary findings from this research has been published in The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge & Society, Practicing Anthropology and Représentations dans le monde anglophone. He has worked with colleagues on how US immigration enforcement priorities create barriers to health services for unaccompanied minors. He has also co-authored articles with students that explore the policy relevance of broadening healthcare to the undocumented and health impacts of family separations. He credits his passion for public sociology scholarship to his Mexican immigrant parents, his exposure to “savage inequalities” in public schooling, being a first-generation college student, mentors, students, and research participants who as Indigenous Maya show him how a life with dignity is accomplished through daily collective struggle.



Meghan Elizabeth Kallman is an Assistant Professor at the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development at UMass Boston, and a Rhode Island State Senator (representing District 15, Pawtucket and Providence). She earned her PhD in Sociology in 2016 from Brown University and holds additional degrees from the University of Chicago and Smith College. Her work draws on organizational theory to understand how organizations shape the politics of their intrinsically motivated participants, including within environmental, political, and community movements. Dr. Kallman also works on network theory. Her recent book, which uses a case study of the US Peace Corps to understand international development processes, was published in 2020 by Columbia University Press. Her new book, authored with sociologist Stephanie A. Malin, is forthcoming with Rutgers University Press and explores community-based environmental movements. She was a 2015-2016 fellow with the Women's Policy Institute of Rhode Island and served 2 terms as a city councilor in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, before being elected to the Senate. Her legislative work has focused on housing access and affordability, economic justice, decarceration and justice reinvestment, and climate readiness.




Dr. Mazelis is an Associate Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice, an affiliated scholar at Rutgers-Camden’s Center for Urban Research and Education (CURE), a Faculty Affiliate at the University of Wisconsin’s Institute for Research on Poverty, a member of the Council on Contemporary Families, and a member of and former chapter co-leader for the Scholars Strategy Network. Dr. Mazelis has long specialized in the study of poverty and social ties, using qualitative interview methods to explore the meanings and understandings people have of their own situations. Her book with NYU Press, Surviving Poverty: Creating Sustainable Ties Among the Poor, is based on her research in Philadelphia. Dr. Mazelis is currently engaged in a collaborative and longitudinal study of student loan debt and its implications for inequality. Dr. Mazelis is passionate about using research to advance public understandings of important issues and amplifying the voices of those in poverty. In addition to her peer-reviewed scholarship, she has authored blog posts and brief reports for The Society Pages, the Council on Contemporary Families, and the Scholars Strategy Network. She has been a frequent source for journalists writing about poverty and related issues and has been quoted as an expert by outlets such as The 19th, WalletHub,, NBC10 Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Politifact. Dr. Mazelis has been a guest on NPR’s The 1a, and her op-eds have appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Hill, and The Washington Post. Follow her @JoanieMazelis




Joya Misra is Professor of Sociology and Public Policy and Director of the Institute for Social Science Research at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her research and teaching primarily focus on social inequality, including inequalities by gender and gender identity, race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, citizenship, parenthood status, and educational level. She considers how policies may work to both reinforce and lessen inequalities; her aim is to create more equitable societies and workplaces. Misra’s work primarily falls into the subfields of race/gender/class, political sociology, work & labor, family, and welfare states. With Kyla Walters, she recently published Walking Mannequins: How Race and Gender Inequalities Shape Retail Clothing Work (University of California Press, 2022). Her work has appeared in the American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, Gender & Society, Social Forces, Social Problems, and numerous other professional journals and edited volumes. She is an active public sociologist, whose work has been featured in a variety of venues including the The New York Times and The Conversation, and is a regular contributor to Inside Higher Education. 




Jamie L. Small is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work at the University of Dayton. She completed her doctoral studies in Sociology and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan. Her areas of specialization include human rights, gender-based violence, law and society, sexualities, and feminist pedagogy. Specifically, she investigates prosecutorial discretion in sexual assault cases and, more broadly, legal constructions of vulnerability. Her publications have focused on sex offenders, child sexual abuse, sexual bullying among teenaged boys, and media representations of sexual trafficking. As a practitioner, she has previously worked in the violence prevention, sexuality education, and HIV/AIDS fields in the United States and Canada. Currently, she is on leave from her faculty position to serve as a Science & Technology Policy Fellow through the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her placement is at the U.S. Agency for International Development in the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Hub, where she works as a Gender-Based Violence Advisor. In this role, she manages foreign assistance grants and contracts; serves as a technical expert on gender equity; and contributes to the development of U.S. government strategies. Across her government and university work, she prioritizes community engagement, contributing to the public dialogue, and convening individuals from different sectors. In her leisure moments, she enjoys lake swimming, memoirs, and urban photography.



Carrie Lee Smith is Associate Professor in the Department of Criminology, Sociology, & Anthropology at Millersville University. Since 2014, she has been a faculty affiliate at the university’s Center for Public Scholarship & Social Change, and in 2020, was appointed as the center coordinator. Many of Carrie’s projects have served the local community – including a study of financial exploitation of the elderly for the District Attorney’s office, an evaluation of a local victim-offender reconciliation program, a survey of residents about their quality of life in conjunction with the Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership, and a study of the effectiveness of video surveillance for the Lancaster Safety Coalition. Of note, she has conducted the annual program evaluation for the county’s Family Services Advocate program (which provides services to children with a parent in prison) since 2016. In all her community-based research work, Carrie has mentored and worked closely with undergraduate and graduate students – ensuring that they participate fully in each part of the process and earning co-authorship. Carrie’s public sociology extends beyond utilizing her research skills to evaluate community-based programs. In 2019, Carrie ran a successful campaign and was elected to serve on the Millersville Borough Council, of which she served as President through 2020 and 2021. 

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