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Scientists in International Context

Staff and Students

Post-Doctoral Fellows

David R. Johnson (Rice University)

David R. Johnson is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Rice University. He completed his PhD in sociology at the University of Georgia in December 2011. Johnson is a sociologist of work whose research agenda focuses primarily on the professional and organizational contexts of science. In studies of conflict between science and commerce, science and religion, and work and family, Johnson theoretically examines inter-institutional conflict through the lens of workers’ experiences and interpretations of their work. Johnson’s dissertation on commercialization in universities – now being revised as a book– was funded by the National Science Foundation and named by the Association for the Study of Higher Education as the recipient of the 2012 Dissertation of the Year Award.

Project Manager

Laura S. Achenbaum (Senior Project Manager)

Laura Achenbaum, a magna cum laudegraduate of New York University (B.A.), earned an M.A. in sociology from the University of Houston in 2010 and has published on research ethics. A former Research Assistant at Baylor College of Medicine, Achenbaum has extensive experience managing every stage of qualitative research projects.

Senior Research Associates

Brandon Vaidyanathan

Brandon Vaidyanathan is Director of Research for the H.E. Butt Family Foundation and Public Policy Fellow at the Center for Ethics and Culture at University of Notre Dame. He was formerly a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Rice University. His first book – currently under review – examines how corporate professionals in rapidly globalizing cities such as Bangalore and Dubai negotiate boundaries between work, consumption, and religion.

Jared Peifer (Baruch College, The City University of New York)

In August 2013 Jared Peifer joined the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, The City University of New York, as an assistant professor. Peifer received his Ph.D. in sociology at Cornell University in May of 2011, specializing in economic sociology and sociology of religion, which together inspire his focus on religious and economic spheres of social behavior. In his research on religiously affiliated socially responsible investments and charitable giving, he explores how social actors are able to negotiate competing logics which might easily pull them in different directions. He also focuses on morality and science, by considering the religious reception of scientific claims regarding climate change and the environment.

Chris Scheitle (West Virginia University)

Chris Scheitle received his Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology at Penn State University in 2008. He is the author of two books: Beyond the Congregations: The World of Christian Nonprofits (Oxford, 2010) and Places of Faith: A Road Trip Across America’s Religious Landscape (Oxford, 2012). His research focuses on the organizational dynamics of American religion, with a particular focus on the nonprofit sector. He is currently Assistant Professor of Sociology at West Virginia University.


Graduate Students

Di Di (Rice University)

Di Di earned a bachelor’s degree in law from Tongji University in 2012 and is now a Ph.D. student in the sociology department at Rice University. Her research interests include immigrants’ religiosity, religions in China, race, and ethnicity, and she is currently studying the conversion of Chinese and Indian immigrants to Christianity.

Simranjit Khalsa (Rice University)

Simranjit Khalsa completed a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Planning, Public Policy, and Management at the University of Oregon in 2013. She is interested in how people negotiate religious difference as well as the growth of new religious movements. She completed a departmental thesis in sociology entitled “Resolving Religious Difference: Christians and Non-Christians in Intimate Relationships” through which she explored the beliefs of partners in such relationships, the religious differences between partners, and the extent to which those differences affected their relationship.