The director, affiliated faculty, visiting scholarsgraduate students and undergraduate students of the Center research a variety of topics regarding the sociology of religion.


Kraig Beyerlein

Dr. Kraig Beyerlein

Associate Professor of Sociology 

Interests:  Religion, Social movements, Civic Engagement, U.S.- Mexico Border 

Affiliated Faculty

Kevin Christiano

Dr. Kevin Christiano

Associate Professor of Sociology

Interests: American and Canadian Religion, Comparative-Historical Sociology, Canadian Politics

Jessica Collett

Dr. Jessica Collett

Associate Professor of Sociology

Interests: Religion, Social Psychology (Group Processes, Identity, Interaction), Methods and Measurement

Edwin Hernandez

Dr. Edwin Hernández

Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Latino Religion and Research
Director for the DeVos Family Foundations

Interests: Latino Religious Experience, Theological Education, Congregational Studies, Evaluation, Education Initiatives

Donna Freitas

Dr. Donna Freitas

Research Affiliate

Interests:  Religion, Spirituality, Young Adults, Hookup Culture, Social Media, The Big Questions, and Meaning-Making


Dr. Mary Ellen Konieczny

Associate Professor of Sociology and Henkels Family Collegiate Chair

Interests: Religion, Culture, Social Theory, Family, Gender, Political Sociology                                                      

Atalia Omer

Dr. Atalia Omer

Associate Professor of Religion, Conflict, and Peace Studies

Interests: Religion, Nationalism, Citizenship, Peacebuilding, Justice, Multiculturalism, Ethnoreligious National Conflicts

David Sikkink

Dr. David Sikkink

Associate Professor of Sociology
Principal Investigator for the Cardus Religious Schools Initiative                                                                          

Interests: Religion, Education, Civic Engagement


Chris Smith, Director

Dr. Christian Smith

William R. Kenan Professor of Sociology
Principal Investigator for the Global Religion Research Initiative

Interests: Religion in Modernity, Adolescents, Evangelicalism, Culture

Jason Springs

Dr. Jason A. Springs

Associate Professor of Religion, Ethics, and Peace Studies

Interests: Religious Pluralism, Secularization in Europe and North America, Multiculturalism, Postliberal Theology, Human Rights and Restorative Justice, Contemporary Pragmatism

Erika Summers-Effler

Dr. Erika Summers-Effler

Associate Professor of Sociology

Interests: Religion, Social Movements, Ethnography, Qualitatitave Methods

Thomas Tweed

Dr. Thomas Tweed

Professor, Harold and Martha Welch Endowed Chair in American Studies

Michael Welch

Dr. Michael Welch

Professor of Sociology

Interests: Religion, Social Trust, Social Capital, Crime                                                                            

Visiting Scholars

Christine J. Gardner

Dr. Christine J. Gardner

Visiting Scholar

Interests: Rhetoric of Religion, Gender, Sexuality, Evangelicalism

Barbara Walters

Dr. Barbara Walters

Visiting Scholar

Interests: Religion and Culture, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Teaching with Technology, Global Inequality, Gender, Children and Human Development, Collective Memory and Human Rights


Rae H

Rae Hoffman

Center Program Coordinator


Sara Skiles

Sara Skiles

Project Manager and Researcher, Cardus Project

Interests: Sociology of Culture, Stratification, Taste and Consumption

Graduate Students

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Feyza Akova

Interests: Social Theory, Religion, and Culture with a focus on Turkey

Feyza Akova is a first year graduate student in the Department of Sociology. She holds an M.A. in Sociology from the University of Houston, and bachelor's degrees in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Istanbul. Before coming to Notre Dame, she worked as a Reseach Intern at non-profit organizations in the U.S. Her research interests include social theory, religion, and  culture with a focus on Turkey.

Jade Avelis

Jade Avelis

Interests: Gender, Marriage and Family, Race and Stratification, Social Psychology, Religion, Work-Nonwork Balance

Jade is in her seventh year of studies at Notre Dame. Her primary research areas are gender, marriage and family, religion, social psychology, and work-nonwork balance. Her dissertation investigates the experiences of men who are the primary caregivers for their children, specifically how social class impacts their understanding of masculinity and being a father. Jade was the recipient of the Kaneb Center Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award in 2015. She is conducting research with Jessica Collett on graduate students' knowledge of work-life balance of professors and how feelings of impostorism are related to graduate students' career goals. Jade is also working with Nicolette Manglos-Weber on projects about life trauma, stress, and resilience and how emerging adults understand organized religion.

Katie Comeau

Katie Comeau

Interests: Non-Government Organizations, International Development, Religion, Social Theory

Katie Comeau is a second-year graduate student in Notre Dame’s Sociology department and is affiliated with the Center for the Study of Religion and Society. She recieved funding from CSRS for her master's thesis. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in sociology from Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts. Katie currently works for Christian Smith on the Lilly Parenting project.  She plans to continue research that explores the role of faith in the work of non-governmental organizations in Haiti.

Shanna Corner

Shanna Corner

Interests: Social Theory, Culture, Religion, Human Rights, Gender, Law and Society, Morality, Globalization

Shanna Corner is a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Notre Dame and a 2015-2016 Dissertation Year Fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. She is also affiliated with the Center for the Study of Religion and Society (CSRS). In 2015, she was the recipient of the Graduate Student Research Award from the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts at the University of Notre Dame, and the SSSR Student Research Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Her research interests include: culture, religion, human rights, law and society, globalization, and gender. While at Notre Dame, she has gained research experience through her work with Christian Smith on the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR) and the Lilly Parenting Project, as well as through her work with David Sikkink as the project manager for the Cardus Education Study (CES). Before coming to Notre Dame, she completed a master’s degree in international studies at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies and a bachelor’s degree in international relations and English at Grand Valley State University.

Kevin Estep

Kevin Estep

Interests:  Religion, Social Movements, Community/Urban Sociology

Kevin received his B.S. in Zoology and M.Ed. in Adult and Higher Education from the University of Oklahoma. He worked in Student Affairs for five years before coming to Notre Dame. His research interests include the role that faith plays in mobilizing support for social justice movements, focusing on socially progressive movements within theologically conservative segments of Protestantism. He is especially interested in urban poverty and faith-based community development efforts directed toward urban revitalization.

Ethan Fridmanski


Ethan Fridmanski

Interests: Sociology of Religion, Sociology of Technology, Quantitative Methods

Ethan is in his second year of graduate studies at Notre Dame.  He hails from Danville Illinois, a smaller city in east central Illinois.  During his undergraduate studies at Illinois State University he studied History with minors in Sociology and Philosophy.  While he studied History he focused on intellectual history during the enlightenment, communication technology, and 19th century American religious history.  His research interests at Notre Dame are much the same.  Ethan's areas of interest are the sociology of religion and the sociology of technology with methodological interests in statistics and network analysis.

His Master's Thesis (titled: Online Communities: A case study of the nonreligious in the age of the Internet) looks at variation in online political activity among the nonreligious and religious populations of America.  After this project he hopes to continue studying communication technology and religion.  His dissertation will look at how developments in communication technologies during the 19th and 20th century have affected the American religious population.  This project will focus on three main technological developments: the telegraph/telephone, television, and the Internet.

Stefanie Isreal

Stefanie Israel

Interests: Global Sociology, Political Sociology, Culture, Social Networks, Urban Sociology, Social Movements, Religion

Stefanie is a PhD student in Sociology and a PhD Fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. She received her M.T.S. in Biblical Studies from Palmer Theological Seminary in 2011, as well as her B.A. from Linfield College in 2006, graduating magna cum laude with majors in sociology and religious studies and minors in Latin American studies and Spanish. Her current research is focused on Rio de Janeiro's favela pacification program, which represents an attempt by the state to establish control in slums dominated by drug traffickers for decades. She has spent the past three summers conducting fieldwork in several of these "pacified" communities and plans to write her dissertation on the transformations taking--and not taking--place, considering the implications for the consolidation of democracy in brown areas.



Sarah Johnson

Interests: Nonreligion, Religion, Ritual, Culture, Qualitative Methods 

Sarah is a second-year doctoral student in Liturgical Studies in the Department of Theology who is also affiliated with the Center for the Study of Religion and Society. The focus of her research is the relationship between nonreligion and Christian ritual in North America. Sarah is a Louisville Institute Doctoral Fellow and holds a Doctoral Fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She received an M.A.R. in Liturgical Studies from Yale Divinity School (2010), and an M.T.S. from the University of Waterloo (2008), where she also completed a B.A. in Religious Studies (2007).

Linda Kawentel

Linda Kawentel

Interests: Religion, Gender, Family, Statistics and Methods

Linda is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology and is affiliated with the Center for the Study of Religion and Society (CSRS). She holds an M.A. in Sociology from the University of Notre Dame (2012), an M.A. in Religious Studies from John Carroll University (2009), and a B.A. in Religious Studies and Political Science also from John Carroll University (2007).  Linda has research experience working with Kraig Beyerlein studying activist churches on the Arizona/Mexico border and Brian Starks studying religious giving among different faith traditions. Her dissertation examines the interplay of religion and family life among American Catholics using survey data.

Hyunjin Deborah Kwak

Hyunjin Deborah Kwak

Interests: Culture, Theory, Religion, Conflict, Small Groups

Hyunjin Deborah Kwak is a PhD student in Sociology and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. She earned her MA in International Peace and Conflict Studies from Notre Dame in 2009 and a BA in political science and French from Calvin College in 2006. Her dissertation, "Building Bridges through Talk: Contention and Solidarity among Civil Society Groups in Mindanao," examines whether and how civil society groups in a post-conflict society interact in publics, and how they go about or fail to ‘reconcile’ their identity differences. The study will also investigate whether and how groups interact in deliberative processes and position themselves to contribute to the post-conflict peace process.



McKenna LeClear

Interests:  Global Religion, Gender, Development, Transnational Organizations

McKenna is a second year graduate student in the Sociology department and a PhD Fellow with the Kellogg Institue for International Studies.  She received her B.A. in Sociology from the University of Tulsa in 2014.  Her interests include religion, social movements, globalization, and Tibet, with specific interest in the impact of globalizaion and international organizations on institutional religious policy. She is currently part of the Lilly Parenting Project.




Bridget Littleton

Interests:  Religion, Culture, Social Theory, and Life Course

Bridget is a first year graduate student in the Sociology department and a Graduate Fellow with Notre Dame's Center for Ethics and Culture.    Bridget received her M.A. in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago (2015) and her B.A. in Politics from Ave Maria University (2013).



Brianna McCaslin

Interests:  Gender, Religion, Sex, Identity, Emotions

Brianna received her B.A. in sociology and English from Marian University and her M.A. in sociology from IUPUI. She joined the sociology department at Notre Dame in 2015. Her research interests include gender, religion, sex and culture, with specific interests in the role these institutional messages play in individual identity and intimate relationships. Her master's thesis examines the religious identity negotiation of married Catholic women who use contraception. She is currently working on Mary Ellen Konieczny's book project Service before Self: Organization, Cultural Conflict and Religion at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Michalka Headshot 2016


Karen Hooge Michalka

Interests: Religion, Gender, Culture, Embodiment, Latino Ethnicity, Immigration

Karen received her MA from the University of Notre Dame and her BA from Wheaton College. She studies embodied culture in religious settings. Karen is a fellow with the Latino Protestant Congregations Study. Her dissertation looks at embodied culture during times of transition at two Latino Protestant congregations. She is the winner of the William D'Antonio Award for Graduate Student Excellence in the Sociology of Religion at the University of Notre Dame. Karen is currently working on the Lilly Parenting Project with Christian Smith.


Christopher Quiroz

Interests:  Social Theory, Religion, Culture, Gender

Christopher graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a B.A. in sociology and a minor in Latin American Literature.  He joined the Department of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame in 2014.  His research interests include social theory, culture, and religion with a specific interest in how secular and religious ideologies interact at the group and individual levels.


Megan Rogers

Interests: Religion, China, culture, social theory, qualitative methods

Megan began studying Chinese language and culture the summer before her freshman year in the University of Mississippi’s Chinese Flagship Program, studies that she continued in the Ohio State University’s Chinese Flagship master’s degree program after graduating from Ole Miss with degrees in international studies and Chinese. Her interest in the growth of religion in post-Mao China began early on in her studies, and both her undergraduate and OSU master’s theses focused on the topic, as does her master’s thesis here at the University of Notre Dame, which involves an examination of the applicability of sociological definitions of religion to the contemporary Chinese context. Now a 7th-year PhD candidate, her interests have expanded to include religion and culture more broadly. She is working on her dissertation on religious practice among white collar professionals in China, and received the Kellogg Institute's Dissertation Year Fellowship as well as the SSSR Student Travel Award.

Michael Rotolo

Michael Rotolo

Interests: Religion, Culture, Morality, Social Theory

Michael Rotolo is a first year graduate student and University Presidential Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Notre Dame. He received is B.A. in Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2013) and his M.Div at Princeton Theological Seminary (2016). He is currently working on the Lilly Parenting Project and Global Religion Research Initiative with Christian Smith.

peter ryan

Peter Ryan

Interests: Religion, Social Movements, Theory, Culture

Peter graduated from the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies at the University of Redlands in 2002 with an emphasis in Literature and Creative Writing. He has spent the interim decade working in the nonprofit world, helping to set up volunteer programs in Syria and the Palestinian Territories. His research interests include new religious movements, Christian-Muslim-Jewish relations, religious minorities, social movements, human rights and social conflict.

brandon sepulvado

Brandon Sepulvado

Interests: Social Networks, Religion, Culture, Social Theory, and Social Psychology

Brandon is a first year graduate student and an affiliate of both the Center for the Study of Religion and Society and the Interdisciplinary Center for Network Science and Applications. He recently graduated from Centenary College of Louisiana (magna cum laude, 2012) with a B.A. in philosophy and sociology, and his interests lie primarily in social networks, belief systems, social psychology, cognitive sociology, and social theory.  Broadly conceived, Brandon wants to know why and how certain belief systems evolve and how to assess the fitness of different systems. As a result, Brandon is currently interested in how beliefs structure adherents' networks and in the role identity plays system evolution. Feel free to visit his website or contact him for more detailed information.

Lisa Weaver Swartz

Lisa Weaver Swartz

Interests: Religion, Gender, Visual Methods, Material Culture

Lisa is a Ph.D. candidate in Notre Dame’s department of sociology and is affiliated with the Center for the Study of Religion and Society (CSRS). She holds an M.A. in sociology from the University of Notre Dame (2008) and a B.A. in sociology with a minor in music from Bethel College (2005).  Lisa has research experience working with Christian Smith on the topic of religious giving and with David Sikkink on the Notre Dame Congregational Survey and the Cardus Education Study.  Her past work includes an M.A. thesis examining evangelical responses to the issue of global climate change, a project exploring how science is portrayed in conservative Protestant textbooks, and an exploration of Mennonite footwashing practices (with Bob Brenneman and David Swartz).  Lisa’s dissertation explores the cultural processes through which evangelical Protestant seminaries socialize students into gender ideologies. The project is a product of research at two high-profile American seminaries: Asbury Theological Seminary and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It argues that these communities are most successful at educating students into gender ideologies when these ideologies are tightly coupled with the discursive and embodied elements of community life.

justin vanness

Justin Van Ness

Interests: Culture, Qualitative Methods, Social Movements and Collective Behavior, Microsociology, Sociological Theory, and Religion

Justin graduated from the University of California, Riverside with a B.S. in Sociology and B.A. in Psychology. He joined the Department of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame in 2012. He is an affiliate of the Center for the Study of Social Movements and the Center for the Study of Religion and Society. 

More information, including his CV and publications, can be found at

Michael Wood

Michael Wood

Interests: Religion, Theory and Culture, and Religious and Secular Divides

Michael is a first year graduate student in the Department of Sociology. He graduated from Brigham Young University in 2013 with a B.S. in Sociology and a minor in Portuguese, and in 2014 with an M.S. in Sociology.  He is currently part of the Lilly Parenting Project.

Undergraduate Students

Abigail Bartels

Abigail Bartels

"Danish and Catholic: An Overview of Politics and Catholicism in the World's Least Religious Country"

Research: My research explores the relationship of the Catholic church and the political structure of Denmark, which is commonly referred to by sociologists as the least religious country on earth. Using the lens of political activity, I am exploring the historical background of Catholicism in this area through its role in the beginning of Denmark, its banishment, and its current day application. Today, Catholics face less than two hundred years of religious freedom in Denmark, and the presence of a non-Catholic sanctioned state church further complicates Catholicism's survival. How have and do Catholics interact with the political structure in Denmark, and vice versa?

Resident of the best dorm on campus, Badin Hall, Abigail Bartels is a junior from Ham Lake, Minnesota, majoring in Political Science with minors in European Studies, Theology, and Gender Studies.

Antonio Marchi

Antonio Marchi 

"Eucharistic Reflections in the Marital Embrace"

Research: "Eucharistic Reflections in the Marital Embrace" draws from a national sample of 600+ Catholics to explore relations between the Sacrament of the Eucharist and its reflections in Sacramental Marriages. Among other constructs, the study looks for correlations between marital satisfaction, sexual satisfaction, frequency with which one attends Mass and receives the Eucharist, belief in the Real Presence, and views on sexual morality. The study also investigates the ways in which one's perception of the Eucharist is altered based on his or her experiences in the married life. These analyses will contribute to the continued development of theory stating that the way in which "the two become one flesh" in marriage mirrors the consummation that occurs between Christ and humanity in the Eucharist. 

Antonio is a junior from Mishawaka, Indiana double majoring in Theology and Psychology and minoring in Studio Art (Photography). He has a deep love of the Church and is happy to have this opportunity to bring Theology into conversation with the social sciences. His hobbies include spending time with loved ones, playing the guitar, and finding joy in the simple things in life. He is looking forward to continuing his adventures as he spends the Spring 2015 semester abroad in Rome.

Lai Sam

Lai Sam

CSRS Alumni
Graduate Alumni Placement

Pete Barwis

Pete Barwis ('16)

Dissertation: "Power and Mobilization: The Problem of All-Volunteer Force Enlistment"

Senior Data Scientist, (2016 - Present)
Capture Higher Ed.


Cole Carnesecca

Cole Carnesecca ('16)

Dissertation: "Fate of the Gods:  State Formation and the Emergence of Religious Modernity in China and Japan."

Assistant Professor (2016 - Present)
Zhejiang University, China


Bryant Crubaugh

Bryant Crubaugh ('16)

Dissertation: "Not all Civic Action is Equal: How Place-Based and Identity-Based Civic Associations Differentially Impact Neighborhoods and Cities"

Assistant Professor of Sociology, (2016 - Present)
Pepperdine University

Bryant's CV


Amy Jonason

Amy Jonason ('16)

Dissertation: "Growing the Good Food Revolution: Strategies of Sustainable Community in Two Altruistic Civic Projects"

Assistant Professor, (2016 - Present)
Furman University

Peter Mundey

Peter Mundey ('15)

Dissertation: “American Christianity & Consumerism: Understanding the Relationship Between Christian Economic Culture and Secular Consumer Culture.”

Affiliated Faculty (2014 - Present)
Calvin College

Peter's CV


Bradley Vermurlen

Bradley Vermurlen ('15)

Dissertation: "Reformed Resurgence: A Field-Theoretic Analysis of Religious Strength (and Weakness) in Advanced Modernity"

Director of Social Research (2015 - Present)
Docent Research Group

Meredith Whitnah

Meredith Whitnah ('14)

Dissertation: "Faith and the Fragility of Justice."

Assistant Professor of Sociology (2015 - Present) 
Westmont College

Meredith's CV


Justin Farrell

Justin Farrell ('14)

Dissertation: "The Moral Meaning of Environmental Conflicts over Yellowstone."

Assistant Professor (2014 - Present)
Yale University


Brandon R

Brandon R. Vaidyanathan ('14)

Dissertation: "Living in a Secular Age: Work, Lifestyle, and Religion in Bangalore and Dubai."

Director of Research, H.E. Butt Family Foundation

Brandon's CV

Chris Morrissey

Chris Morrissey ('12)

Dissertation: "War, Peace, and Religious Advocacy: the Debate Over the Iraq War."

Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology (2014 - Present)
George Fox University

Chris' CV


Karen Monique Gregg

Karen Monique Gregg ('12)

Dissertation: "The Safe and Sacred Pajama Party:  Social Processes in a Religious Youth Ministry for High School Adolescents."

Visiting Assistant Professor
Montana State University

Monique's CV

Recent Publication:
"Generating Trust in Congregations: Engagement, Exchange, and Social Networks." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 53, no. 1 (2014)

Patricia Snell Herzog

Patricia Snell Herzog ('11)

Dissertation: "People in Context: Perceptions of Social Dissonance and Community Involvement."

Assistant Professor (2013 - Present)
University of Arkansas

Patricia's CV


Bob Brenneman

Bob Brenneman ('09)

Dissertation: “From Homie to Hermano: Conversion and Gang Exit in Central America."

Assistant Professor of Sociology (2010 - Present)
St. Michael’s College

Bob's CV


Jon Hill

Jon Hill ('09)

Dissertation: "Religious Pathways During the Transition to Adulthood: A Life Course Approach."

Assistant Professor (2009 - Present)
Calvin College

Jon's CV


Undergraduate Alumni Placement

Maura Bailey ('15)

Center Affiliation: Research Assistant for the CSRS

Current Position:  College Advisor at Academic Success Program in Dallas, TX

Robyn Przybylski ('15)

Center Affiliation:  National Study of Youth and Religion Project

Current Position:  Financial Reporting Analyst for Disney Parks and Resorts

Amanda Varela ('15)

Center Affiliation:  National Study of Youth and Religion Project

Current Position:  Jesuit Volunteer Corps

Madeline Swan ('14)

Center Affiliation:  National Study of Youth and Religion Project

Current Position:  Math Teacher at  William Fremd High School 

Lucy Negash ('14)

Center Affiliation:  National Study of Youth and Religion Project

Current Position:  Public and Community Relations Officer at ECDC African Community Center

Anne Haas ('14)

Center Affiliation:  National Study of Youth and Religion Project

Current Position:  Special Education Teacher in the Denver Teacher Residency program

Michelle Mowry ('14)

Center Affiliation:  National Study of Youth and Religion Project

Current Position:  Washington University JD/MSW Program

Megan Pelino ('14)

Center Affiliation:  National Study of Youth and Religion Project

Current Position:   Graduate school pursuing a Master's in Public Health in Health Policy and Global Health at Columbia University.

Catherine Braunlich ('13)

Center Affiliation:  National Study of Youth and Religion Project

Current Position:  Associate Account Strategist at Google

Megan Davis ('13)

Center Affiliation:  National Study of Youth and Religion Project

Current Position:  Medical School at Georgetown University

Melanie Fritz ('13)

Center Affiliation:  National Study of Youth and Religion Project

Current Position:  Social Services Department at the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center 

Allison Vander Broek ('11)

Center Affiliation: Research Assistant for the Air Force Project

Current Position: Maggies's Place

Future: Graduate Studies in History at Boston College

Nick Bloom ('10)

Center Affiliation: Research Assistant for the CSRS

Current Position: Sociology Grad Student at Duke University

Christie Pesavento ('10)

Center Affiliation: Research Assistant for the Air Force Project

Current Position: City Year

Future: Law School with an interest in Constitutional Law

Jennifer Jesse ('10)

Center Affiliation: Research Assistant for the Air Force Project

Current Position: Teacher with Education Alternatives

Robert Wedow ('10)

Center Affiliation: Research Assistant for the Air Force Project

Current Position: Harvard MD/JD Program