I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology department at New York University. My research examines how traditional and conservative groups adapt to social change, how group members experience these changes and adaptations, and how the process reproduces and reshapes existing inequalities.
My dissertation, Rebranding Evangelicalism: The work of religious entrepreneurs in New York City, examines professional "church planters," specifically evangelical Christian leaders who come to New York to start new churches for the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination. Working under substantial pressure from its majority-white denomination, lately concerned about its waning political influence and demographic future, these self-styled religious entrepreneurs face the difficult task of starting new religious communities quickly and efficiently in a diverse, competitive, and highly pluralistic urban environment. Drawing on 30 years' worth of church planting instruction manuals, interviews with planters, and a year of ethnographic fieldwork with a small, multi-ethnic church plant in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, I trace the everyday processes through which leaders strategize, make decisions, and sacralize the work of competing for members, money, and resources.
Other research focuses on how and when religious leaders attempt to interpret environmental disasters (an outgrowth of my work with the Superstorm Research Lab), the racial politics of conservative gun owners (with Deirdre Royster), and the discourse of the culture wars (with Michael Ian Borer).
I am a founding member of the Superstorm Research Lab, a mutual aid research and writing collective working to understand the changes in how New York City policy actors, NGO leaders, activists, volunteers, and residents are responding to social, economic and environmental issues following Hurricane Sandy. I am also a member of NYLON, a network of young scholars in New York, London, and Berlin interested in culture and qualitative methods. I have presented my work at many national and international meetings, including the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association and the Association for the Sociology of Religion, as well as at Princeton University's Religion and Public Life workshop.