Sociology doctoral student named to award committee

The nation’s top sociology students will submit papers for her consideration

Joanna Lara, TWU sociology doctoral student

Photo credit: Ronda DuTeil


DENTON – The first time Joanna Lara took a medical sociology class, she knew it was her research passion.

“I am interested in how social structural factors impact individuals in terms of their behaviors, the decisions they make, the choices that are available to them, and how these factors influence health and health-related behaviors,” she said.

The Texas Woman’s University sociology doctoral student soon will have an extra opportunity to learn more about her subject. Lara is the newly appointed student committee member and judge of the 2015-2016 Student Paper Award of the Evolution, Biology and Society Section of the American Sociological Association.

Lara, a Florida native who resides in Denton, is believed to be the first TWU student to serve on the committee. She and faculty from Texas A&M University and Oklahoma State University will judge hundreds of students’ research submissions and pick winners.

“I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to find out more about evolution, biology and society and how they intersect.” said Lara, who was asked to be on the committee after meeting the 2015-2016 section’s chair a few months ago at ASA’s annual conference in Chicago.

“We appreciate the important work that American Sociological Association members – such as Joanna Lara – are doing to support the Association and its sections,” said ASA Executive Officer Sally T. Hillsman. “In addition to benefitting the ASA, their work and dedication are crucial to advancing the discipline of sociology.”

Students may submit their work now, and the deadline is March 1, ASA officials said. Papers published between 2011 and 2014 will be considered.

Judging other students’ work provides good training for doctoral students who conduct their own research, publish, compete for jobs and work to earn professional recognition, said Celia Lo, professor and chair of TWU Department of Sociology and Social Work.

“More importantly, this kind of service will help make known TWU sociology to other sociologists in the nation who represent universities large and small,” Lo said.

Lara’s selection on the committee reflects her ability as a sociology scholar and her interest in health, Lo said.

“Recently, Joanna and I have launched research concerning Type 2 diabetes, social inequality and social problems,” she said. “We have also decided to take a look at the important roles of biomarkers and genes in the relationship between socioeconomic status and Type 2 diabetes in the near future.”

Lara said she expects to read a wide range of topics. She hopes for inspiration, too.

“This will be a great learning experience for me,” she said.

Lara also is an instructor in the Department of Sociology and Social Work at TWU, teaching undergraduate courses in sociology.

Media Contact

Stephanie Patrick
Contributor to TWU News

Page last updated 3:36 PM, October 27, 2015