Alumni Profiles | Department of Sociology

Alumni Profiles

Iftekhar Amin

Iftekhar Amin received his Ph.D. from the University of North Texas in 2008, with an emphasis in social gerontology. He is an Associate Professor in the School of Human Services, University of North Texas at Dallas (UNT Dallas). His interests include inter-disciplinary research on aging, and sustainable community building. He has served as PI, Co-PI, and Evaluator on grants from diverse granting-agencies, such as the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), American Association for Retired Persons (AARP), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Administration on Aging (AoA), and Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH). His work has appeared a wide variety of journals, such as Journal of Applied Gerontology, Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, Educational Gerontology, Journal of Family Violence, and Journal of Aging in Emerging Economies. He is Associate Editor of the Journal Sustainable Community Review. He is also the elected Chair of Age Well Live Well (AWLW), a coalition led by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, and he holds leadership and collaborative roles in multiple multidisciplinary campus committees and in regional initiatives.

Alicia Brunson

Alicia Brunson received her PhD in Sociology in 2013 with a focus on racial identity formation, film studies, and social stratification. She also received her MS in Sociology from UNT in 2007. Brunson currently is an assistant professor at Georgia Southern University. Her specialty courses cover issues of institutional racism, politics of representation, media literacy, and participatory action research. Her research is also in these areas. In particular, her current projects concern the retention and graduation rates of Black students at predominantly white institutions, racial ideologies of Millennial students, and newspaper, television, and social media news journalists' biases. Her teaching and research center on using the sociological imagination to understand social issues from multiple standpoints and working with communities to create social change.

Joseph Comeau

Joseph Comeau graduated from our doctoral program in 2012. After defending his dissertation, he spent one year as a visiting lecturer with the UNT Department of Sociology. In 2013, he accepted a tenure-track position with the Department of Psychology and Sociology at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, Georgia. He is interested in the Sociology of Education, familism, and Latina/os. He has been an active faculty member at Georgia Southwestern and was awarded tenure and promotion in 2018. Additionally, he has remained an active member of the Southwestern Sociological Association, serving as its secretary/treasurer.

Nichola ("Nikki") Driver

Nichola ("Nikki") Driver graduated with a PhD from our program in August 2016. Her areas of interest include reproductive/women's health disparities, health policy, program evaluation, and methods. She recently accepted a tenure-track Assistant Professor position at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock starting in July 2018. There, she will be teaching courses in methods and program evaluation in the Master's of Public Service program. Prior to that, she served as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in the School of Public Affairs. There, she served as the Director of the Nonprofit Leadership Studies program. She oversaw service learning projects, coordinated internships, and taught courses in program evaluation, health policy, and nonprofit leadership & service.

Stacey L. Ford

Stacey L. Ford received her Ph.D in Sociology from the University of North Texas in 2020 with a focus on Race & Ethnicity, Social Stratification and Women's Studies. While studying at UNT, Ford guest lectured on topics including gender, sexuality and non-normative lifestyles. The primary focus of her dissertation topic and current research focuses on the reasons why a disproportionate number of African American women remain unmarried compared to other U.S. women. She is also a Dallas Morning News Best Selling Author of a novel based on a polyamorous relationship titled, Selling the Fantasy.

Elizabeth Gabhart

Elizabeth Gabhart received her Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctorate degrees from the University of North Texas Sociology department. She earned her Ph.D. in 201_ and is now an Associate Professor of Sociology at Tarrant County College in Texas. She loves working there and reports that her students are amazing. Her research interests include religion, spirituality, morality, and gender. Her primary interest is in teaching Sociology, specifically focusing on student engagement techniques, such as service learning.

Suheyl Gurbuz

Suheyl Gurbuz received his Master's and Doctorate degrees from the University of North Texas Sociology department. He earned his Ph.D. in 2018 and is now a Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology at Midwestern State University. His research interests include medical sociology, criminology, political sociology, research methods, and statistics. At MSU Texas he teaches Introduction to Sociology, Criminology, and Race Ethnic Groups. Since graduate school he has co-authored two articles published in peer-reviewed journals and a book chapter. His current research focuses on drug use and suicidality among soldiers.

Lindsey Huang

Lindsey A. Huang received her Ph.D. from the University of North Texas in 2015. She is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and the Sociology Program Director at Fresno Pacific University. At FPU she teaches core courses such as Introduction to Sociology, Introduction to Social Science Research, Sociocultural Theory, and Senior Thesis, as well as elective courses such as Sociology of Religion and Marriage and Family. In 2016, she received a Title V Culturally Embedded Curriculum grant to develop a new course called Contemporary Issues in Immigration. Since graduate school she has co-authored articles published in the Interdisciplinary Journal for Research on Religion and in the Journal of Sociology and Christianity. She is an active member of the Pacific Sociological Association. Her current research focuses on religious institutions of higher education and their response to the rescinding of DACA.

Michael Itashiki

Michael Itashiki received his Ph.D. in Sociology from UNT in 2011. His major professor was Dr. Yeatts. His major area of study for his dissertation was social factors associated with everyday crime. He is currently working in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area within the community college system. He also produces video documentaries and multimedia for arts groups. Mike is married with one daughter.

Syeda S. Jesmin

Syeda S. Jesmin received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of North Texas in 2008, with an emphasis in Medical Sociology. She is currently an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of North Texas at Dallas. Her scholarly interests center on using sociology and public health principles to understand social determinants of health, health disparities, and exploring strategies critical for effective health promotion and interventions. Much of her work focuses on the community-health relationship, including the ways in which community disadvantages increase women's vulnerability to HIV, intimate partner violence, and other health problems. Her current project, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Garrett Lee Smith (GLS) Campus Suicide Prevention grant ($303,000), focuses on suicide prevention and mental health promotion at UNT Dallas and surrounding communities. Her work has appeared in a variety of journals, such as Archives of Sexual Behavior, Aggressive Behavior, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Violence and Victims, Women & Health, Health Care for Women International, and Journal of Comparative Family Studies.

Dustin Johnson

Dustin Johnson graduated with his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of North Texas in 2009. After graduation, he became a Research Specialist at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Community Justice Assistance Division (TDCJ-CJAD). His research interests include the sociology of law, deviant behavior and the use of evidence-based practices in community supervision. As a researcher with TDCJ, he conducts statewide evaluations of various treatment programs for offenders. He also conducts recidivism studies and provides statewide community supervision statistics to state agencies and criminal justice stake holders. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, obstacle course racing and attempting to cook.

Karen Claiborne Kaiser

Karen Claiborne Kaiser received her MS in Sociology from UNT in 2006 and completed her PhD in Sociology in 2014 with a focus on the sociology of mental health, deviance, and social stratification. While a graduate student, she served as a Teaching Fellow in Sociology at both UNT and UNT Dallas. She was hired full-time as a faculty member of Hill College in 2010 and has been teaching Sociology at the Hill County and Johnson County campuses ever since. In addition, she currently serves as Program Coordinator for Hill College's Behavioral Sciences Department and as President Elect of the Faculty Senate. She teaches face-to-face and web courses, and goes on-site, as needed, to local high schools to teach dual credit. Many of her students are first generation college students, and the overwhelming majority come from disadvantaged backgrounds. She enjoys bringing sociology to students while helping them develop the tools they need to succeed in their chosen careers.

Michael Nino

Michael NiƱo received his Ph.D in Sociology from the University of North Texas in 2015, with emphases in Medical Sociology and Research Methods and Statistics. His dissertation work focused on how peer relationships influence adolescent health behaviors among immigrant and socially isolated youth. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Willamette University; a small liberal arts college in Oregon. He teaches courses in Latina/o Sociology, Medical Sociology, and Quantitative Methods and Statistics. His research agenda integrates theory and methods from the biological, social, and behavioral sciences to advance our understanding of population health within marginalized communities. He is a recipient of a 2018 Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship for Junior Faculty and is one of only 30 professors nationwide to receive the fellowship. Currently, he is working on two research projects. The first, partially funded by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, examines how various dimensions of acculturation and perceived discrimination influence biological dysregulation (i.e. allostatic load) among Latina/os. The second project investigates how the intersections of race and parental incarceration influence cellular aging (i.e. telomere length) among young children. His research has been published in a number of academic journals such as Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Journal of School Health, International Migration Review, Addictive Behaviors, and the Journal of Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice.

Corinne Ong

Corinne Ong started her career as a social worker in Singapore--her homeland. She pursued a Masters and doctorate in Sociology (minored in Anthropology) at UNT in 2010 and graduated in May 2014. She specializes in environmental and urban sociology and has applied the knowledge gained from these specializations towards her research and teaching since graduation. She was an Assistant Professor at Livingstone College in North Carolina from 2014-2015. Upon her relocation to Singapore in 2016, she partook in academic and policy research. She will be embarking on a career as a Lecturer at a national polytechnic in Singapore beginning September 2018, where she will teach sociology and research courses. A postgraduate degree in Sociology has opened many career inroads for her, as her career diversity illustrates. This demonstrates the enduring pertinence of sociological perspectives for explaining social problems, particularly its pointedness in unmasking covert forces that drive social behaviors/phenomena.

Myrna Papdouka

Myrna Papdouka graduated from the doctoral program in Sociology at UNT in 2016. After defending her dissertation, she worked for several years at the University of Cambridge as a Research Support Adviser. In 2018 she accepted an offer for the permanent position of Lecturer in Quantitative Criminology from Middlesex University in London, which has one of the oldest Criminology programs in the world. She uses advanced text mining research methods to study media representations of human trafficking and other social problems.

Jennifer Hester Popescu

Jennifer Hester Popescu graduated with her MS in Sociology from the University of North Texas in May 2000. She worked in the fundraising consulting business before joining the Texas A&M Foundation in in College Station, TX 2006. She is currently the Senior Director of Major Gifts at the Texas A&M Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization that exists for the benefit of academic programs at Texas A&M University. Her focus at the Foundation is to assist donors in finding the perfect college, program, or department to direct their philanthropic resources for the betterment of Texas A&M University. She is also the cofounder of the Women, Wealth and Wisdom program at the Texas A&M Foundation which is a free annual financial and estate planning event for women of all ages. She and her husband spend their free time tending to their land and livestock in the rural Bryan/College Station area.

Wheeler Pulliam

Wheeler Pulliam earned a doctoral degree from our program in 2014. He had used his undergraduate degree in Sociology as an officer in the US Army Infantry. He was able to apply his knowledge to his real-world mission to Bosnia in the 90s. There were 3 different factions, and the Army was tasked with keeping the peace. The fundamentals he learned in Sociology allowed him to have a better and faster understanding of what was happening, and thus allowed him to lead soldiers in a more effective matter. When he transitioned to the civilian world, the tenets of sociology once again proved useful in his new career in sales. Subsequently, not only did he obtain a Master's degree in Human Relations and a MBA, but he earned a PhD in our program, with these additional degrees paid for by General Electric for whom he worked. He climbed through the sales ranks to reach the national manager level with GE and Samsung. He also taught at the college level. Currently, he helps families and business owners plan out and manage their financial futures as he runs his own business under Edward Jones, one of the largest privately owned partnership firms in America.

Trent Ryan

Trent Ryan graduated with his MA from our program in 2012 and then entered the doctoral program in Sociology at Emory University. He has focused on R and statistics instruction; conducted several workshops for faculty and students on topics such as web scraping, data analysis, and introduction to the R environment for newly-hired faculty and teaching assistants; and collaborated with and advised faculty on several research projects as methodologist/data analyst. His dissertation project examines the social network and scene formation dynamics in the global music scene. His research interests include quantitative and computational methods, culture, music, and organizations. The primary focus of his academic career is to utilize and develop methods to analyze complex social phenomena that can be applied to both the academic and data science/industry settings. He plans to defend his dissertation proposal in June 2018.

Yuying Shen

Yuying Shen received her Ph.D. in Sociology from UNT in 2012. Her major professor was Dr. Yeatts. She then worked two years as a Visiting Professor at Texas Tech University. From there, she was offered a tenure track position at Norfolk State University (NSU) and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2018. She has over two dozen publications in the area of health and aging, with many of them in highly respected journals and several of them co-authored with Drs. Moore and Yeatts who are professors at UNT. She currently shares a National Science Foundation grant with several others at NSU. She is married with three children, and her husband is a chemist who also works at NSU.

Myron Strong

Myron Strong graduated with his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of North Texas in 2014. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Community College of Baltimore County in Baltimore, Maryland. As a teacher, he is active in study abroad courses. He took students to Cuba in April 2017 to conduct an ethnography, and they later presented their findings at a conference. He took another group of students to Ghana in 2019 to explore the country's health care and medical resources, as well to study Ghanaian culture and history, including the US role in the kidnapping and enslavement of Ghanaians. As a researcher, he has published work on race construction in the United Kingdom and currently explores race, gender and social factors in comics. He has also presented papers at numerous conferences, including those of the American Sociological Association, Association of Black Sociologists, Eastern Sociological Society and Southwestern Sociological Association. He recently received the 2019 ESS Barbara R. Walters Community College Faculty Award from the Eastern Sociological Society for his article "The Emperor Has New Clothes: How Outsider Sociology Can Shift the Discipline" (Sociological Forum 34(1): 245-252).

He is also been involved in American Sociological Association and serves on various committees including the Status Committee on Race and Ethnicity.

Stan Weeber

Stan Weeber earned his Ph.D in Sociology at the University of North Texas in 2000. He is Professor of Sociology at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He teaches Introductory Sociology, Sociological Theory, Social Stratification, U.S. and World Extremism, Collective Behavior and Social Movements, and Science, Technology and Society. His research interests include political sociology, collective behavior, and sociology of technology. He reviews manuscripts for a variety of journals, including American Sociological Review, Social Forces, and Sociological Perspectives. His own work has appeared in over two dozen journals including The American Sociologist, The Sociological Quarterly, International Review of Modern Sociology, The Journal of Public and Professional Sociology, Journal of Sociology, Journal of Applied Sociology, Contemporary Sociology, and Journal of Law, Politics, and Society.

James Wicks

James Wicks completed his Master's degree at the University of North Texas in 2013. He is currently enrolled in the Higher Education doctoral program at Texas Tech University and anticipates graduating with his doctorate in 2019. He is committed to scholarship, as well as helping college students towards self-knowledge and critical, reflective citizenship. He specializes in academic advising, student persistence and retention, evidence-based decision making, and the practical application of theory in institutional settings. Since August 2017, he has served as an academic advisor in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences at Middle Tennessee State University.

Lisa Zottarelli

Lisa Zottarelli has been on faculty at Idaho State University (2001-2003) and Texas Woman's University (2003-2013). In 2010-2011, she was a Fulbright-Nehru Research Scholar at the Center for Development Studies in Kerala, India. She joined San Antonio College in Fall 2013 as the Chairperson of the Department of Social Sciences and Humanities. Currently, she works on Special Projects in the Office of the President and serves as the San Antonio College - Southern Association of Colleges and Universities - Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) Liaison. She conducts research on disasters, development, and health. Her current research focuses on climate change adaption and social vulnerability.

Konstantinos Zougris

Konstantinos Zougris earned his doctorate in Sociology at UNT in 2015. He is a tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Hawaii-West Oahu. His teaching focuses on research methods and techniques in social sciences, social stratification, social movements and economic sociology. He has published several peer-reviewed journal articles in the fields of text analytics, research methods, economic sociology, social inequality and socioeconomic development. He is currently working on several research projects associated with the fields of sociology of work, sociology of knowledge, and digital sociology.

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