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Painting by Paul Gaugin

Helen Mederer

Helen Mederer



Ph.D., University of Minnesota

Family, Aging, Work and Society, Gender Inequality

Professor Helen Mederer holds a B.A. in Sociology from Muhlenberg College and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Minnesota.

Professor Mederer is jointly appointed in the Schmidt Labor Center, where currently she is developing interdisciplinary courses on workforce issues and workplace flexibility.


Her research, teaching, and service focus on how workplaces and work practices can be redesigned to be compatible with 21st century workforce demographics: an increasing number of women, older worker, and caregivers.


Professor Mederer's interests in Sociology revolve around families, work, and gender, and the intersections of these social institutions. She also is keenly interested in the social implications of population aging. Dr. Mederer regularly teaches Soc 212 Families in Society, Soc 350 Work & Family Life, Soc 413 Gender Inequality, and Soc 438 Aging in Society.

Her research program broadly focuses on studying barriers to women's participation in the workforce, and on men's participation in family life. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Elsevier Foundation, and NOAA's Sea Grant program. One of her current research projects is a study of women's participation in and impact on fishery management policies in the Northeast. A recently completed project was a NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Grant, which focused on how to make employment practices more compatible with 21st century workers' lives on and off the job. In addition, Professor Mederer has been the Chair of the URI Work-Life Committee since its inception in 2003.

News & Announcements


Donna Hughes, Carlson Professor of Gender and Women's Studies has accepted a joint appointment as Professor of Sociology. Professor Hughes is a leading international researcher on human trafficking. She has completed research on the trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation in the United States, Russia, Ukraine, and Korea and also does research and writing on women's rights.


Dr. Pravin Patkar, a Fulbright Scholar from India will be in residence in Sociology and Anthropology during the 2015-16 academic year. The founder of Prerana, a center for women and children in Kamathipura - the largest red-light district in the world -- he written extensively on the topic of human trafficking. He has worked with victims of bonded labor (modern-day slavery) and prostitution and sex trafficking, and is an advocate for laws and policy that protect victims and hold perpetrators accountable. Dr. Patkar will be doing research and co-teaching courses with Professor Donna Hughes.


Julie Keller Julie C. Keller has joined the department as an Assistant Professor of Sociology. She received her PhD in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of California, Berkeley. Before coming to URI, Professor Keller was a Visiting Assistant Professor and Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Oberlin College.


Rosaria Pisa has been appointed director of the Gender and Women's Studies program. Professor Pisa has conducted in-depth fieldwork in rural and urban Mexico since 1993. Her research has evolved from studying the impact of the privatization of communal land on community life to her current focus on the gender dynamics of local and organic farming.


URI Anthropology & History student, Morgan Breene, earns prestigious international award to continue her studies of underwater archaeological sites. For full article click here



For the second year in a row, an anthropologist has been awarded the University’s Early Career Research Award.

Associate Professor Holly Dunsworth received the 2014 award for her research comparing energy use in apes and other mammals with particular reference to how the energetics and metabolic parameters of pregnancy, fetal growth, infant growth, and lactation and how those determine the timing of birth in humans and other mammals. Kudos to Holly!!!

Department contacts

Department Chair
Leo Carroll,

Justice, Law & Society Minor Coordinator
Professor Leo Carroll,

Administrative Assistant
Theresa Nobile,