The faculty and students in the Sociology Department are world-class researchers and scholars. We love to share and celebrate their accomplishments.

Dr. Melinda Messineo, Interim Associate Vice President for Inclusive Excellence and Professor of Sociology

Dr. Messineo

Dr. Melinda Messineo has won the prestigious Ball State University Outstanding Diversity Advocate Award! The Outstanding Diversity Advocate Award is given in recognition of demonstrated excellence by a faculty member in championing and facilitating inclusive excellence. The award is given on the basis of continuous and cumulative achievement at Ball State over a minimum of five years. She received the award from President Mearns during the University Opening Day meeting, August 20, 2021.

She was also nominated for the Women in Business Unlimited (WIBU) ATHENA Professional Leadership Award for her excellence, creativity, and initiative in her profession; provision of a valuable service to improve the quality of life for others in the community; and active assistance of women in achieving their full leadership potential.

Congratulations to Dr. Messineo!

Dr. Ellen Whitehead, Assistant Professor of Sociology

Dr. Ellen Whitehead and colleagues published a research paper titled “IF YOU DON’T KNOW ME BY NOW…’: Assessing Race Mismatch through Differences in Race Reports of Fathers in the Fragile Families Survey.” This article discusses the racial composition of couples is a salient indicator of race’s impact on mate selection. It also examines how well do those in intimate partnerships know the racial identities of their partners. This study examines whether discrepancies in the reports of a person’s race or ethnicity can be identified even within intimate relationships, as well as which relational, social, and attitudinal factors are predictive of divergent or concordant reports. This article was published in Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race

To read more, click here!

Dr. Richard Petts, Professor of Sociology

Dr. Richard Petts has a new study that was just accepted for publication and should appear online within the next few weeks. This study, entitled “Organizational Policies, Workplace Culture, and Perceived Job Commitment of Mothers and Fathers Who Take Parental Leave” seeks to identify the types of parental leave policies that workers will be more accepted for using. He notes, “We know that many people do not utilize their full parental leave policy (if they have access to one) because of fears regarding being stigmatized and perceived as less committed to their job.” His joint study with Trenton D. Mize (Purdue University) and Gayle Kaufman (Davidson College) uses a unique experiment to identify the various types of policies that result in greater worker commitment.   

Dr. Petts also appeared on “Houston’s Morning Show” on FOX 26 in Houston to discuss paid parental leave. He discussed the current debate over paid parental leave, why this policy is needed, and how paid leave benefits families. His research was also featured in a Ball State press release on November 2.

Great work Dr. Petts!

To see his interview, click here!  

Dr. Jun Xu, Professor of Sociology, and Professor Fang Gong, Associate Professor of Sociology

Jun Xu, Sociology

Fang Gong, Sociology

Dr. Xu and Professor Gong have a forthcoming publication titled “Ethnic Disparities in Mental Health among  Asian Americans:  Evidence from a National Sample.” This article was published in the Journal of Health Disparities  Research and Practice. This research focuses on exploring ethnic membership, immigration-related factors, socioeconomic status, and social support as the main correlates of multiple outcomes, including self-rated mental health, psychological distress, and various types of psychiatric disorders. 


Dr. Rachel Kraus, Professor of Sociology

Dr. Kraus’s research publication “Examining Religious/Spiritual Change among Women with Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC),” has been accepted to the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, one of the top journals in the field. 

Dr. Rachel Kraus’s article “Breast cancer awareness campaigns can do a better job supporting women who’ve received a stage 4 diagnosis, instead of focusing only on early detection and ‘beating cancer’” has been published on The Conversation. This serves as an insightful and accessible window into the experiences of patients living with stage 4 breast cancer. 

To view the video on breast cancer awareness, click here!

Congratulations Dr. Kraus!

Kristin Newvine, Sociology Graduate Student

Kristin Newvine, current graduate student for the Sociology Department, published “Princessing: The Magic of Impression Management.” A research article that examines a firsthand account of “princessing,” which is the social practice where people enact, or cosplay, hyper-feminine princess characters from Disney films.

To read her article, click here