Graduate Students

Kenneth Amadi

Kenneth Amadi headshot

Research interests: Sociology of Religion, Liturgical Studies, Ritual, Ethnography, Christianity in Africa, Theology and Science of Gratitude.

A Ph.D. candidate in theology at the University of Notre Dame, Kenneth Amadi specializes in liturgical studies with interests in sociology of religion, rituals studies, and the theology and science of gratitude. Ken’s dissertation seeks to operationalize the religious imagination of contemporary African Christians through the ethnographic study of thanksgiving rituals in the Nigerian Catholic culture. With previous degrees in philosophy (B.Phil., 2009) and theology (B.S.T., 2014) from the Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome, and following priestly ordination in 2015, Fr. Amadi came to Notre Dame in 2017 earning a Master of Theological Studies degree in 2019. Ken joined the Center for the Study of Religion and Society in 2019 as graduate student affiliate.

Feyza Akova

Headshot of Feyza Akova

Feyza Akova is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame. Prior to joining Notre Dame, Feyza earned an M.A. in Sociology from University of Houston and B.A. degrees in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Istanbul. Feyza has won several teaching and research awards, including the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) 2022 Excellence in Teaching Award and the Robert J. McNamara Student Paper Award from the Association for the Sociology of Religion. Her dissertation project, “Journeys to Traditional Sufi Islam in America: Self-transcendence, Tradition, and Social Change in the Contemporary Modern World,” received Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship from Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Audra Dugandzic

Audra Dugandzic headshot

Audra Dugandzic is a PhD candidate in sociology and Notebaert Fellow at the University of Notre Dame. Her dissertation examines the implementation of liturgical change in the US Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council and how it is implicated in polarization among US Catholics. Her research on the role of place characteristics in facilitating or impeding religious practice, using the case of a Maryland community sometimes identified with the "Benedict Option," has been published in Sociology of Religion. Audra earned her B.A. in psychology and politics, with minors in philosophy and theology & religious studies, at The Catholic University of America.

Clara Gaddie

Clara Gaddie headshot.

Clara Gaddie is a doctoral student at Notre Dame and a Presidential Fellow.  Her current work explores the boundaries of religious and nonreligious identities and investigates how these take shape over time.  She completed her M.A. at the University of Chicago and her B.A. at Centre College.

Taylor Hartson

Taylor Hartson headshot

Research interests: Culture, Gender & Sexuality, Ethnography, Qualitative Methods

Taylor Hartson (they/them) is a PhD student in the department of sociology at the University of Notre Dame. They received their BA in Sociology from Calvin University in 2019, where they graduated with honors. Their master's thesis explores the ways in which gendered experiences of mutuality and relationality shape women farmers’ management practices and relationships with livestock. Taylor's graduate work broadly focuses on the intersections of gender & sexuality, sustainable agriculture, identity, and embodiment.

Abigail Jorgensen

Abigail Jorgensen Headshot

Abigail Jorgensen is a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Notre Dame and a Notebaert Fellow. Her current work focuses on family and gender, culture and politics, health, and methodology. Prior to joining the Department of Sociology, Abigail earned a Bachelor of Arts in both Political Science and Gender Studies at the University of Notre Dame with a minor in Theology. You can learn more about her work at her website 

Brianna McCaslin

Brianna Small

Research Interests:  Gender, Religion, Sex, Culture

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. 

Pace Ward

Pace Ward headshot

Research interests: Culture and Cognition, Emotions, Religion, Ethnography

Pace Ward is a doctoral student in the department of sociology at the University of Notre Dame. He received his B.A. in English and his M.A. in sociology from the University of Mississippi. His master's thesis examines how southern evangelical Christians construct their religious and political identities and negotiate group boundaries during interaction. His work is currently focused on the cognitive and emotional dynamics of vulnerable experiences.

Gregory Wurm

Headshot of Gregory Wurm.

Greg Wurm is a Ph.D. Candidate and University Presidential Fellow in sociology at the University of Notre Dame. His research focuses on understanding the changes to and relationships between the fields of family, religion, and politics. His dissertation research specifically looks at the phenomenon of political depolarization among ordinary Americans and at the organizational level through a study of the emerging depolarization field. Theoretically, he utilizes and contributes to the development of the meta-theoretical approach of critical realism and methodologically, he draws on both quantitative (survey and computational) and qualitative (interview, ethnography, discourse analysis) methods. He has published on the role of religion in various religious-ethnic families, how religion is a resource in forming strong family relationships, and on arranged marriages among South Asian Muslim immigrants in western societies. He is also interested in and working on projects related to Christian nationalism and civil religion.