Meet a Social Scientist: Dr. Anne Barrett from the Department of Sociology

Why did you decide to become an academic?

I think I became an academic because I never wanted to stop going to school!  When I was an undergraduate, I realized that I enjoyed using data – whether survey responses, interview excerpts, or cultural products – to tell stories about the social world.  An interest in honing these skills led to me to graduate school, where I realized I could spend my career pursuing whatever topic I was curious about, which struck me as too good to be true. At that point, I knew that academic life was for me.  

What do you find most fulfilling about your job?

I thoroughly enjoy working with students through my teaching and research. I remember how exciting it was to discover as an undergraduate how sociologists view the world, and I have fun trying to inspire a similar excitement in my students.  I also really enjoy working with graduate students on projects and papers, showing them the research and writing ropes and watching their skills develop. 

What are you working on or teaching right now that has your excited professionally?

I’m working on a couple of papers that use data from interviews I conducted with older Italians while I was on a Fulbright a couple of years ago.  The interviews focused on their views of various types of care providers.  I’m enjoying sifting through the data to find similarities and differences with older Americans and to develop possible explanations for them.  It’s the first time I’ve used data collected in another language, so that’s been a fun challenge that keeps the research process fresh.

Please let us know if there is something that you would like us to share with blog readers (picture, publication, website, favorite book). Otherwise I will find something.

The last book I read was Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding.  Written by Daniel Lieberman, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard, the book really challenged some assumptions about aging – particularly about the inevitability and degree of physical declines – that are widespread our culture and even held by many scholars who study aging.  

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