2016 News Releases
TWU doctoral student chairs a committee of a section of American Sociological Association
Photo by Michael Modecki
Psychology was Andrea Laurent-Simpson’s focus as an undergraduate at the University of Houston. But a sociology class about symbolic interaction, a branch of social psychology, helped her develop an interest in sociological social psychology.
“Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior, while sociology is more social behavior,” Laurent-Simpson said. “For me, it always seemed like the two should be knitted together, and I didn’t see why they should be two separate disciplines. Sociological social psychology was the answer.”
Laurent-Simpson, now a sociology doctoral candidate at Texas Woman’s University scheduled to graduate in May, will continue to meld the two disciplines and shape how they are studied as the new chair of the Graduate Student Advisory Committee of the Social Psychology Section of the American Sociological Association. Lucas resident Laurent-Simpson is the first TWU student to chair the committee.
During her tenure as chair, she will serve as a liaison and speak on behalf of fellow graduate students. The committee is working to create a new mentoring program that will pair graduate students with social psychology professors from other universities, and Laurent-Simpson will lead the development of the program.
“It creates a unique networking opportunity for the graduate students,” she said.
Laurent-Simpson will deliver two presentations in August at the 2016 ASA meeting, including sharing her research in identity and human-animal relations.
“Andrea is a scholar and a leader,” Dr. Celia Lo, Ph. D., professor and chair of TWU’s sociology and social work department. “She is very articulate and charismatic when she speaks to a group of people. She is always willing to spend time completing tasks assigned and does them well. She is very positive and dependable.
“I believe that her commitment to make the social psychology section better is very visible to members of the committee and the ASA Social Psychology Section. Her selection reflects her intellectual strengths and her real enthusiasm for new tasks.”
It’s Laurent-Simpson’s second year on the committee. Other members are from Indiana University, Kent State University and the University of Maryland.
She credits Dr. Jim Williams, Ph.D., the chair of her dissertation committee, a professor and the director of TWU’s criminal justice program, with helping her gain confidence on the committee. Laurent-Simpson also praises Dr. Jessica Gullion, Ph.D., an assistant professor at TWU.
Laurent-Simpson wants to remain in academia after graduation. She would like to be in the academy as a professor and hopes to find a tenure track position that would allow her to specialize in social psychology or family.
“I want to use my research to help students understand the vast influence that social forces have over everyday lives and behavior,” Laurent-Simpson said.
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