New Sociology Faculty Bring Expertise in Life Course and Environmental Studies

We are pleased to announce that the Sociology faculty will expand this August with the addition of new assistant professors, Mariana Amorim and Dylan Bugden. Both are in the final stages of completing their doctoral dissertations at Cornell University.

Photo of Mariana Amorim, PhD.
Mariana Amorim, PhD

Amorim’s PhD is being granted by Cornell’s Department of Policy Analysis and Management with concentrations in sociology and demography. Her publications illustrate her research and teaching interests. They include, “As good as money in the bank: Building a personal safety net with the earned income tax credit,” in Social Problems, and “The magnitude and timing of grandparental co-residence during childhood in the United States,” published in Demographic Research.

Amorim’s current research focuses on social welfare policies, family economic decisions, and intergenerational support over the life course. She relies on a wide range of large-scale data sets and a diverse methodological toolkit to investigate how families’ use of private and public safety nets contribute to the well-being of family members, particularly children and older adults. She is especially interested in how low-income families allocate their resources in a context of economic insecurity, and how public policies shape low-income parents’ financial decision making and well-being.

Her dissertation focuses on the effects of the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend, the only basic income program in effect in the U.S., on child-investment decisions of low- and high-income families. Her research at Cornell has been supported by organizations such as the William T. Grant Foundation, the Social Security Administration, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

She hopes to create research opportunities for WSU students interested in how family changes, social welfare policies, and families’ financial decision-making processes contribute to the reproduction of social inequalities. She also hopes to use her experiences acquiring extramural funding, presenting at academic conferences, and publishing in peer-reviewed journals during graduate school to support students with similar goals.

Bugden is finishing his PhD through Cornell’s Department of Natural Resources. His research and teaching interests include environmental sociology, climate change, and energy transitions as illustrated in his recent publications, including: “A synthetic view of acceptance and engagement with smart meters in the United States” in Energy Research and Social Science,  and “Rural landowners, energy leasing, and patters of risk and inequality in the shale gas industry” in Rural Sociology.

A photo ofDylan Bugden, PhD.
Dylan Bugden, PhD

Bugden’s research tackles the mutually constitutive nature of social and environmental problems, viewing environmental problems as both the cause and consequence of social problems. His work touches core issues that emerge from this dynamic, such as inequality, contentious politics, and environmental behavior. He is particularly interested in energy transitions and global climate change. A mixed-method researcher, Bugden uses a variety of empirical strategies in his work, including econometric, survey, experimental, and interview techniques. His previous research has explored the community impacts of “fracking”; the intersection of climate activism and partisan polarization; and the effects of energy transitions on vulnerable groups.

Bugden has a master’s degree in environmental and energy policy from Oregon State University and completed his undergraduate degree in conservation social science right here in the Palouse, at the University of Idaho. His graduate research has been supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.

Bugden hopes to work with passionate students interested in any aspect of environmental sociology. By collaborating with students, cultivating a community of environmental sociologists, and funding innovative and theoretically informed research, he hopes to make a broad, positive impact on both the field of environmental sociology and on the careers of graduate and undergraduate students at WSU. Most of all, he hopes to build on the strong legacy of environmental sociology at WSU by cultivating new ideas and approaches to understanding society’s ever-changing relationship with the environment.

Both Amorim and Bugden expand the capabilities of the Department of Sociology in policy analysis and inter-disciplinary research needed to support those applications. Each also contributes theoretical and methodological perspectives that are essential to both graduate and undergraduate education at WSU. We are delighted to welcome them to Pullman.