Ph.D.’s on the Market


Leandra Smollin’s primary research focus is social inequality, particularly in the areas of health, intimate relationships, and at the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, and class. My dissertation, “Relationship Conflict, Violence and Abuse among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Adolescents,” speaks to the social and health effects of inequality, examining the relationships between systemic oppression and partner violence. This enduring social and public health problem is critically understudied in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth populations, despite prevalence rates approximating heterosexual youth. Data from interviews, focus groups, and one year of participant observation explain how youth conceptualize and negotiate dating relationships and violence in a changing socio-political context. Asserting their relationships are essentially “the same… but different” from heterosexual/non-transgender peers, youth narratives consistently focused more to the latter, evidencing the myriad of ways discrimination, bias, stigma, and stress influence dating relationships and subsequently prove to inform responses to dating violence. The findings of this study extend beyond addressing gaps in academic literature, they will contribute to anti-violence and health policy and educational programming.

My scholarship in the area of inequalities both motivates and informs my public policy work. In 2011, I was appointed to the Massachusetts’ Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, and asked to co-chair of the policy recommendation committee. This committee is tasked with drafting policy recommendations issued to the state legislature and executive agencies addressing social and health disparities and gaps in service provision. My public policy experience, in addition to my community-based work coordinating a health education program at a youth-serving organization, have added depth and perspective to my scholarship and teaching.

I value teaching and learning, and received an award for teaching excellence from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern in 2009. I have taught a variety of courses in both Sociology and Gender and Sexuality Studies at diverse institutions including Northeastern, Newbury College, Tufts, and Boston University. In addition to introductory course offerings in each field, I have taught courses on feminist theory, health, gender, family, family violence, and popular culture. I look forward to continuing to work with students in the classroom and through research-based partnerships. | Curriculum Vitae

chrisprener copyChristopher Prener is a Doctoral Candidate in Sociology at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. He received a B.A. with Honors in Sociology and History in 2008 from St. Lawrence University and a M.A. in Sociology in 2010 from Northeastern University.

Chris’s graduate research has focused on multiple dimensions of emergency and mental health care in the United States, including public perceptions of mental illness, inequalities in hospital emergency department care, and the treatment of mental illness in Emergency Medical Service (EMS) settings. His dissertation research investigates the ways in which EMS work is affected by the neighborhoods it occurs in. In particular, Chris’s dissertation work seeks to better understanding the complex interplay between the everyday work practices of EMS providers and physical place by analyzing the ways in which place structures providers’ work shifts and their outlooks about patient care, socially stigmatized disorders, and the neighborhoods that they work in on a daily basis. His dissertation uses a mixed methods research design to investigate these interests. The design includes ethnographic observations of EMS work shifts and the neighborhoods where these shifts occur, semi-structured interviews with EMS providers, EMS patient data, and a wide variety of demographic and administrative data. Each element of the research design is geocoded, allowing Chris to situate his data spatially and to utilize various GIS and spatial statistical techniques for analysis.

In addition to his research, Chris is also interested in the development of data tools to assist in the collection of mixed methods data in interview and ethnographic research settings. He has an ongoing software project, FieldWerks, which is designed to extend the reach of ethnographers and allow them to easily collect spatial data at their field sites using iPhone-based software. In his current work at the Institute of Urban Health Research and Practice, he manages the warehousing of the project’s data, which includes data from structured and unstructured interviews as well as medical record review data. Part of the data system Chris has designed includes iPad-based interview guides that are used for data collection at the literacy study’s field sites.

Chris’s methodological interests extend to his teaching. He has taught three sections of statistics for the Department of Sociology, and is excited to continue teaching methods courses in the future. Chris also taught a section of Urban Social Problems, which blends topics from more traditional social problems and introductory urban sociology courses. David Simon’s HBO series The Wire played a key role in the course, providing a powerful visual introduction to the deeply rooted social problems that affect American cities. Students were asked to view two to three episodes a week while keeping up with a demanding reading list featuring many classic readings from the urban sociology and social problems literatures. Chris is interested in continuing to use visual sociology as a pedagogical technique, and to continue teaching courses centered around David Simon’s various television projects.

To learn more about Chris’s research, teaching, and data design projects, please visit his website | Curriculum Vitae