The School of Social Sciences is happy to welcome a new Chancellor's Professor, six new assistant professors and one lecturer with potential security of employment to its fall 2012 faculty lineup. With research interests ranging from environmental politics of oil spills and space exploration to mathematical models that help explain deficits in decision processes associated with risky behaviors such as drug abuse, their scholarly contributions will further expand the diversity and interdisciplinary research strengths for which the School of Social Sciences is known.  

Learn more about the school’s new faculty below and come welcome them in person at the annual Social Sciences Welcome Reception on Wednesday, October 3 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. in Social & Behavioral Sciences Gateway, Room 1517.

Charles Ragin
Chancellor's Professor, Sociology
Ph.D., Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1975

Charles Ragin comes to UCI as a Chancellor's Professor, a title reserved for faculty members who have demonstrated exceptional academic merit and promise for ongoing scholarly achievement. His primary contributions are methodological; he develops and uses set-theoretic models to explain and compare detailed, qualitative data across multiple datasets. His methods for qualitative comparative and fuzzy set analyses have been widely adopted in sociology and political science, and his approaches are making inroads in medicine, engineering, and organizational studies. In addition to his methodological work, Ragin focuses on social inequality, the welfare state, and ethnic political mobilization. He is the author of more than 100 articles in research journals and edited books, and he has developed several software packages for data analysis. He is a past recipient of the International Social Science Council Stein Rokkan Prize and the Policy Studies Organization Donald Campbell Award for Methodological Innovation, and he received honorable mention for the American Sociological Association Barrington Moore, Jr. Award. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, Mellon Foundation and Kenan Foundation. Prior to joining the faculty at UCI, Ragin held appointments at Indiana University, Bloomington, Northwestern University, the University of Oslo in Norway, and most recently, the University of Arizona, where he was a political science and sociology professor.

Jacob Avery
Assistant Professor, Sociology
Ph.D., Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, 2010
M.A, Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, 2007

Jacob Avery has focused primarily on the causes, effects and experiences of homelessness, using fieldwork methods to study urban poverty, social inequality, and the delivery of human services from an interactionist perspective. His work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. His findings have been published in Contexts and Ethnography, and he has a book manuscript in progress that examines how a network of chronically homeless and chemically addicted individuals experience life, and how and why they subsist without regular aid from formal systems of support. He comes to UCI following a two-year post doctoral fellowship at the National Poverty Center in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.

Valerie Olson
Assistant Professor, Anthropology
Ph.D., Anthropology, Rice University, Houston, Texas, 2010

Valerie Olson is a sociocultural anthropologist whose field work has taken her from the ocean subsurface of the Gulf of Mexico where she’s examining causes and consequences of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, to NASA space centers where she’s studying the environmental politics of outer space exploration. American Extreme: An Ethnography of Astronautical Visions and Ecologies, her book-in-progress, examines how engineers, scientists, physicians, and architects seek to turn humans into spacefarers and, in the process, connect outer space to the terrestrial environment. She’s published articles on this topic in the Psychology of Space Exploration: Contemporary Research in Historical Perspective, and she has two more articles that have been accepted for publication in Anthropological Quarterly. Her previous work, which focused on issues of nursing staffing and patient care, has been featured in Medical Anthropology and the Journal of Nursing Administration.

Sean Walsh
Assistant Professor, Logic & Philosophy of Science
Ph.D., University of Notre Dame, 2011

Sean Walsh studies the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of logic and mathematical logic. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, he’s spent the past year as a postdoctoral fellow at the
University of London where he contributed to a European Research Council-funded study aimed at better understanding logical paradoxes. His work has been published in the journal Kant-Studien and has a forthcoming article in the Annals of Pure and Applied Logic. He’s presented his research at annual meetings and seminars in Paris, Chicago, London and Budapest. His current research is funded by an award and three-year fellowship he received in 2011 from the Kurt Godel Society with support from the John Templeton Foundation.

Jim Weatherall
Assistant Professor, Logic & Philosophy of Science
Ph.D., Logic & Philosophy of Science, University of California, Irvine, 2012
Ph.D., Mathematics and Physics, Stevens Institute of Technology, 2009
M.F.A., Creative Writing, Fairleigh Dickinson University, 2010
A.M. (Master’s), Physics, Harvard University, 2005

James (Jim) Weatherall is a 2012 UCI alumnus whose research focuses on the philosophy of physics, philosophy of science and mathematical physics. His research has shown that, in addition to the theory of general relativity, classical physics can be used to explain the fundamental concept of inertial motion. He’s published four philosophy of physics articles, including one in the journal Philosophy of Science for which he currently serves as managing editor. He’s co-written five papers in top-tier physics journals, published nine popular science articles, and he has a forthcoming book, The Physics of Wall Street: A Brief History of Predicting the Unpredictable, with Houghton, Mifflin, and Harcourt Press. Weatherall is a past recipient of the UCI Alumni Association Lauds & Laurels Outstanding Graduate Student Award and Justine Lambert Graduate Prize in the Foundations of Science, and the University of Western Ontario Robert K. Clifton Memorial Book Prize.

Jennifer Trueblood
Assistant Professor, Cognitive Sciences
Ph.D., Cognitive Science, Indiana University Bloomington, 2012
M.A., Mathematics, Indiana University Bloomington, 2009

Cognitive scientist Jennifer Trueblood uses experimental work combined with mathematical modeling to study how people make judgments and decisions. Her research investigates dynamic models of multi-alternative, multi-attribute decision-making, applications of quantum probability theory to subjective judgments, and deficits in decision processes associated with risky behaviors such as drug abuse. Her work has been published in Psychological Review and Cognitive Science, and she has two book chapters on quantum probability models of decision-making. She comes to UCI after having completed her graduate degree at Indiana University where she was supported by the National Science Foundation.

Graeme Boushey
Assistant Professor, Political Science
Ph.D., Political Science, University of Washington, Seattle, 2007
M.A., Political Science, University of Washington, Seattle, 2004

Graeme Boushey’s research specializations include public policy innovation and political decision-making in America, particularly at the state level. His recent book, Policy Diffusion Dynamics in America, explores the issue of why some policies – like vaccination policies and tobacco control programs – spread more rapidly across states than others.  Boushey contends that different patterns of policy diffusion can be explained by variations in the particular features of policies and the political and institutional traits of states, as well as differences in interest group carriers.  He has provided perspectives on these topics to a variety of media outlets, including the Associated Press, NPR Marketplace, and local news media. Prior to joining the faculty at UCI, Boushey was a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan, and an assistant professor of political science at San Francisco State University.

James Hull
Lecturer with Potential Security of Employment, Social Sciences
Ph.D., Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2010

James (Jim) Hull comes to UCI from Brown University where he’s spent the past two years as a postdoctoral research associate with the Environmental Change Initiative & Population Studies Training Center. His research focuses on relationships, migration and monetization; his findings have been published in the Brazilian Journal of Population Studies and Asian Pacific Migration Journal. His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation and Carolina Population Center and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a new lecturer with potential security of employment in social sciences, he brings experience teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses in sociology.

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