Meet a Social Scientist: Dr. Carlson from Demography and Population Health

What is your name?
Dr. Woody Carlson

What kind of work do you do in the College?
I am a Charles B. Nam Professor in Sociology of Population at the Center for Demography and Population Health. I teach, do research and engage in service in the department, profession and community.

Why did you decide to become an academic?
When I was an undergraduate senior, I took a class on the population of China offered by a visiting scholar from India. Until that semester, I intended a career in international law–seabed treaties and so on. But like a baby bird, once I heard the song of “my own kind” I was hooked and never looked back. I asked the visiting professor where the best demography graduate program was, and that’s where I went a year later.

What do you find most fulfilling about your job?
Most of my students over the years, both graduate and undergraduate, turn out to be interesting a rewarding people to work with and I greatly enjoy putting together the most dynamic courses for them that I can manage. But my ultimate satisfaction comes from working with those rare students who may never have heard of demography or population dynamics, but when they encounter it, they suddenly recognize that same “song of their own kind” and get that light of excitement in their eyes that may hopefully (as it has for me) last them for a lifetime.

What are you working on right now that has you excited professionally?
Last year I finished a book with a colleague from the University of Washington, in which we collected chapters from demographic experts in more than a dozen European and Middle Eastern countries as well as writing a couple of the chapters ourselves. The book provides a demographic portrait dispelling some of the ignorance and prejudice found in many countries about the diaspora of refugees escaping from a decade of violence in Syria, I think we must try to add light on a subject like this, not just heat and smoke as so often happens.

Dr. Carlson is a The Charles B. Nam Professor in Sociology of Population. His research concentrates on generational cycles in populations, social determinants of infant and reproductive health, and working-age mortality, and involves evidence from Europe and the Middle East as well as American society. You can learn more about Dr. Carlson here.

The feature image is from Pexels.

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