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Department of Sociology
Social Science 333
Missoula, MT 59812-1584
phone: (406) 243-5281
fax: (406) 243-5951
Graduate Students at the Spring Picnic, 2008
Cassie Sheets received her M.A. in Sociology in May of 2013, focusing in the Rural and Environmental Change and Inequality and Social Justice tracks. Her qualitative, sociohistoric thesis was entitled "The Sweet Grass Hills and Blackfeet Indians: Sacredness, Land, and Institutional Discrimination," which earned recognition as one of the top graduate presentations at the 2013 Spring UM Graduate Conference. She also wrote a policy-based, technical report on the issue, which has been shared with American Indian, non-profit, and government organizations as a tool to protect the Sweet Grass Hills from potential mining threats and as a form of community-based reciprocation for allowing her to conduct research. Cassie is currently the Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator at The Poverello Center, Inc., Western Montana's largest homeless shelter. She manages volunteer experiences in the shelter while conducting educational outreach about the root causes and social consequences of homelessness and poverty.
Mike first joined the department in 2007 as a pre-med student. Even though he eventually dropped his focus on medicine in favor of sociology, he continued his work in the physical sciences, specifically in the chemistry department where he worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant for general chemistry. He graduated with his BA in 2011 with an emphasis in Inequality and Social Justice. His honors thesis was a sociological comparison of peer education programs in both the sociology and chemistry departments.
Mike continued his education at UM, enrolling in the Master's program in the fall of 2011. During that time, he served as a teaching assistant for a variety of courses as well as graduate student representative for a faculty search committee and departmental meetings. Additionally, he worked as a research assistant for Professors Hollist, Kuipers, and Rooks. These projects covered a wide range of topics and methods including experimental research on race and status beliefs (with Professor Kuipers) and mixed-methods research on disproportionate minority contact in Montana's juvenile justice system (with Professor Hollist). Most recently, he designed and oversaw a survey of alumni for the Sociology Department. Mike graduated with his MA in the spring of 2013 after successfully completing and defending his master's thesis titled, "Motivation and Education: Performance, Commitment, and Satisfaction among Pharmacy Students."
Mike is currently pursuing a PhD in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. There, he is studying the sociology of education and hopes to expand on his work at UM by exploring various aspects of STEM education.
Patrick Bixler is a Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology Department at Colorado State University where he has taught courses in Environmental Sociology. He is also adjunct faculty at University of California – Davis where he instructs Sierra Institute courses teaching environmental education, nature philosophy, and ecopsychology. He currently is a research fellow at the Pinchot Institute for Conservation in Washington D.C. where he is finishing his dissertation. His main areas of study include social networks in environmental governance, community-based conservation, and social learning in collaborative conservation. Patrick expects to defend his dissertation, titled: “Towards Co-delivery of Climate Adaptation Conservation: Cross-scale Networks of Environmental Governance” in the fall, 2013.
As a graduate student, both his thesis and dissertation research projects explored the intersection of forest-dependent communities and environmental governance. While at the University of Montana, Patrick studied with Lyn MacGregor in the option area of Rural and Environmental change. His Master’s thesis investigated the role of community forest livelihoods in the context of changing governance, social-economic and environmental conditions in the Interior Columbia Basin, British Columbia. Two primary research articles have come from this work: forthcoming in Society and Natural Resources, “From Community Forest Management to Polycentric Governance: Evidence from the Bottom Up” and published in the Journal of Political Ecology, 2012, “The Political Ecology of Local Environmental Narratives: Power, Knowledge, and Mountain Caribou Conservation.”
Former graduate student, Tyson McLean, along with co-worker Kathy Ruppert, received a 2013 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Performance at a special ceremony on September 30, 2013. McLean, who is currently employed by the Montana Board of Crime Control, was recognized for his work with data collection and reporting of uniform crime data from law enforcement agencies across the state, and for helping to provide exceptional customer service.