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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

New Faculty in Sociology:

Dr. Melanie S. Brasher has joined the department as an Assistant Professor of Sociology. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Duke University in 2013. Prior to coming to URI, Dr. Brasher was a visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology at Dickinson College. Her appointment is a joint appointment in Sociology and in Human Development and Family Studies where she will participate in the Gerontology program. For more info click here.

Dr. Hilda Lloreans has joined the department as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Connecticut in 2005. Prior to coming to URI, she was a visiting Assistant Professor at Brown University and a Lecturer at Middlebury College. She has also held positions as a Research Associate at the University of Puerto Rico and at the Institute for Community Research in Hartford, Connecticut. For more info click here.

Early Career Faculty Research Award

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