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Faculty and students work on an archaeological dig

Research and Engagement

We study what it means to be human, to live in society, to create and recreate ourselves and our cultures.

Purposeful Research

Our faculty — and our students — dig up tiny sherds of pottery and bones. They put entire societies and cultures under their microscopes. They’re driven to examine and understand what we can learn from the past — and how we can guide the future.

We’ve made our mark in studies of family sociology, ecological change, work and labor markets, migration, nonprofit organizations, and crime, to name just a few.

Our research, which appears in the top journals of our fields, creates new knowledge that informs pressing issues in our communities. It helps solve problems.

In the Community

As part of our university’s land-grant mission, we serve North Carolina citizens through our research and engagement activities. Locally, we bring our expertise to projects like the Friends of Oberlin Cemetery, an initiative to preserve a culturally significant African American cemetery in Raleigh.

We also work with industries and governments to solve problems related to food insecurity, climate change, child abuse, poverty and inequality, among other issues.

Our faculty and students also embed themselves abroad to explore the effects that tourism, globalization, political change and other factors have on communities.

Resources for Researchers

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences research office can help faculty navigate projects, locate funding sources and make connections in the community.


Our faculty have made significant contributions to the breadth and depth of scholarship in their fields. These publications are indicative of our scholarship and our research interests.

  • Heimer, K., Malone, S. E., & De Coster, S. (2023). Trends in women’s incarceration rates in US prisons and jails: A tale of inequalities. Annual Review of Criminology, 6(1), 85-106. doi:10.1146/annurev-criminol-030421-041559
  • Thomas, M., Henderson, L., & Horton, H. D. (Eds.) (2023). Race, Ethnicity, and the COVID-19 Pandemic. University of Cincinnati Press.
  • Martin, L. L., Horton, H. D., Herring, C. Keith, V. M & Thomas, M. (Eds.) (2017). How Race and Complexion Matter in the “”Color-Blind”” Era. Sense Publishers.
  •  Thomas, Melvin, Cedric Herring, Moshe Semyonov, Hayward Derrick Horton, Loren Henderson, and Patrick L. Mason. 2020. “Race and the Accumulation of Wealth:  Racial Differences in Net Worth over the Life Course, 1989-2009.”  Social Problems.  (67):  20–39.
  • Thomas, Melvin, Richard Moye, Loren Henderson, and Hayward Derrick Horton. 2018. “Separate and Unequal:  The Impact of Socioeconomic Status, Segregation and the Great Recession on Racial Disparities in Housing Values.”   Sociology of Race and Ethnicity.  4(2):229-244..
  • Thomas, Melvin.  2017. “It’s Hardly Fair To Bring A Child Into The World With The Way Things Look. . .:  Anomie, Mistrust and the Impact of Race, Class and Gender.”  Sociological Inquiry.  88(2): 254-273..
  • Brantley, M. (2023). Can’t Just Send Our Children Out: Intensive Motherwork and Experiences of Black Motherhood, Social Problems, spad047,