Current Graduate Students | Sociology | SIU

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masters students

Current Graduate Students

Clay Awsumb

PhD Student


Rebecca Bolinski

MA Student

Rebecca Bolinski is a second year M.A. student in the sociology department. She earned her B.A. in sociology at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale in 2014. Rebecca is currently working on her Master’s paper which aims to make sense of how the print news media differentially framed the crack-cocaine, non-medical use prescription opioid, and heroin crises by conducting a content analysis of newspaper articles from three time periods. She examines how framing and narratives used by the media may impact the publics perceptions and judgements, which likely impact drug policy and treatment along the lines of race, gender, and social class. Rebecca’s research interests include the sociology of deviance and crime, substance use, the sociology of race and ethnicity, gender, and social inequalities. Rebecca has been a teaching assistant for Introduction to Sociology. She will be a research assistant with the SIU School of Medicine beginning in the spring semester. Rebecca hopes to continue her education in the PhD program at SIUC in the Fall of 2018; she intends to focus her dissertation on opioid use.


Trisha Crawshaw

PhD Student


Danijela Cvetkovic

PhD Student


Debaleena Ghosh

PhD Student

Debaleena is a PhD student and has completed her second M.A. in 2013 from the department of Sociology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Before coming to the U.S. she earned her M.A. degree in Sociology from the University of Calcutta (Kolkata) in 2008 and finished her B.A. in 2006 from St. Xaviers College Kolkata in India with Sociology as her major. Prior to joining SIUC, she taught Sociology for 3 years at the undergraduate level in India. In SIUC, she has been a Teaching Assistant for Soc 108: Intro to Sociology and is currently an Instructor for Soc 215: Race and Ethnic Relations in the U.S. Her research interests include gender, race/ethnicity, immigration, work and organizations. For her masters’ research paper, Debaleena undertook a qualitative project to look into how the various statuses of gender, race and/or ethnicity, and immigration intersect to produce a feeling of ‘outsider-within’ or ‘exotic other’ at work places, especially in academia.


Ann Johnson

PhD Student

Annie Johnson is a doctoral student in the Sociology program. She graduated with her B.A. in Sociology from Eastern Illinois University and her M.S. in Sociology from Illinois State University. Annie’s research interests include gender, the body and inequality.


Yurino Kawashima

PhD Student

From SUNY Geneseo.


Neeraja Kolloju

PhD Student

Neeraja Kolloju completed her M.A in sociology from Texas Tech University and a B tech in E.E. from India. Her Master’s thesis studies and challenges the assumed positive effects of education on attitudes by emphasizing contextual placement of educational institutions in different societies. Main research interests include gender and theoretical understanding of tolerance as an attitude.


Derek Lehman

PhD Student

Derek is a PhD student in Sociology. He graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2011 with a B.A. in Sociology and completed his M.A. in 2014 at SIU. His research focuses on how religiosity impacts views of inequality and the connection between religious and political conservatism. 


Luke Andrew Norris

PhD Student

Luke Norris is a doctoral student in the Sociology program with a concentration in Criminology. His current research interests include social problems, criminological theory, deviance, medical sociology, and quantitative methods. Luke graduated from SIUC in 2009 with a MA in Sociology. His master’s thesis focused on the social construction of adolescent prescription drug abuse. Luke graduated from SIUC in 2007 with a BA in Psychology. Luke has taught SOC 108 (Introduction to Sociology), SOC 215 (Race and Ethnic Relations in the United States), and SOC 302 (Contemporary Social Problems). Luke is currently the Sociology graduate representative to Graduate and Professional Student Council and College of Liberal Arts Council. He has served as president of Alpha Kappa Delta, the international honor society in Sociology, and Psi Chi, the honor society in Psychology.

Current Research: Adolescent Prescription Drug Abuse as a Unique Type of Substance Abuse: A Quantitative Examination Using the Monitoring the Future (2011) Dataset.


Amanda Patrick

PhD Student


Korey Phelan

PhD Student

Korey is a PhD student in the Sociology program. She graduated with her B.A.'s in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Kentucky and earned her M.A. in Mental Health Counseling from Eastern Kentucky University. Prior to coming to SIU, Korey worked as a child and family therapist in Montana. Korey's main areas of interest are social psychology, criminology, and deviance. She is currently a TA for SOC 108: Intro to Sociology. Korey lives in Carbondale with her husband Michael. In her spare time she enjoys exploring the Western United States, watching baseball, and she has a dog named Ginsberg.


Kendra Pospisil

PhD Student

Kendra Pospisil is a Ph.D. student in the Sociology Department at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. She graduated with her B.A. in Sociology and Minor in Women and Gender Studies at the University of Northern Iowa. Kendra received her M.A. at Minnesota State University, Mankato where she completed her master’s thesis on gender expectations in children’s picture books. At SIU Kendra has been a Teaching Assistant for 108: Intro to Sociology and is currently teaching 302: Contemporary Social Problems. Her research interests include Social Inequalities (Race, Class, Sexual Orientation, and Gender), Popular Culture/Media, Fat Studies, Symbolic Interaction, Identity, and the Formation of Self.


Nishanth Sanjithkumar

Doctoral Candidate

Ms. Nishanth Visagaratnam is a doctoral candidate from the Department of Sociology with a certificate in criminology and criminal justice and she specializes in the areas of gender and crime. Her areas of research focus on the diaspora, sociology of immigration, war crimes, victimology, sociology of gender, social movements, and criminology. She co-authored a peer-reviewed article entitled “Run Silent, Run Deep: Women, Meth, and Crime,” (2011), she is one of the recipients of the 2013-2014 Dissertation Research Award and  a recipient of the 2013 Graduate Professional Student Council Research Award. She appreciates teaching as much as research and she has experience teaching Introduction to Sociology, Criminology, and Statistics for Social Science.


Becki Tuxhorn

PhD Student

Becki Tuxhorn is a PhD student in Sociology. She graduated from the University of Illinois Springfield in 2009 with a B.A. in Criminal Justice, and from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2012 with her M.A. in Sociology.  She has been active teaching a variety of online and face-to-face courses in Sociology and Social Justice at several institutions, including Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, MO, Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, IL, and Midstate College in Peoria, IL. Her background includes employment with the U.S. Marshals Service and Christian County (IL) Probation. Becki’s master’s thesis was a study of women in prison nursery units. Her current research interests include women farmers, women in criminal justice, and social justice issues.  When not studying or teaching, Becki is a part-time farmer and loves to watch Cardinals baseball.