2nd year at UC Irvine’s Criminology, Law & Society PhD! I serve as Graduate Representative for the department, along with Veronica Gonzalez, and as an Editorial Assistant for Sociological Perspectives.
My primary research areas are the drivers of legal gun acquisition, how carceral contact affects inequality, the viability of mixed-methods social research, and how people consume security through training, equipment, group membership, and mindset adoption. I want to conduct research that is rigorous, respects actors’ frames of action, and that imputes adequate motives and mechanisms of behavior (to paraphrase Peter Bearman).
Prior to UCI I graduated from Harvard in 2014, with honors in social studies, a minor in psychology, and a senior thesis on US gun ownership (see Research details below). Between 2014 and 2018 I built models and conducted business strategy research for tech, reinsurance, and infrastructure companies as a consultant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Outside of study I like building computers, reading science fiction, making beef jerky (my personal recipe), puns, playing drum set (working on some Tesseract songs), and making pretty histograms. Feel free to email me: [email protected]
Two discrepancies catalyzed my interest in US gun ownership research during the fall of 2012:
First, I noted a disconnect between how gun owners thought about legitimate force and how social theorists, like Max Weber, argued that a modern state had a “monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force” within its territory. But US gun owners seemed to disagree, arguing that their gun ownership both competed with a government monopoly on force and complemented it by ensuring their personal safety.
Second, I felt that there wasn’t enough sociological research on US gun ownership; most studies were concerned with outcomes, like David Hemenway’s seminal statistical analyses, rather than the mechanisms and motives of gun ownership. As Randall Collins said about the study of US gun ownership:
It is not a sociological explanation of behavior to invoke the reasons given, especially on occasions of public justification and debate …. Instead we should ask, ‘Why do particular people come to believe in these reasons, or rather, in what circumstances do they invoke them …. What is it that possessors of guns do?’ – Interaction Ritual Chains (2004, p. 100)
For my thesis I conducted semi-structured interviews with 36 gun owners and police from Vermont and Massachusetts. I sought to understand how participants believed responsibility for welfare and security should be divided among individuals, families, communities, and governments. I coded these beliefs and narratives, comparing participants’ beliefs with both their gun ownership practices (such as guns owned and concealed carry behavior) and their gun control stances.
Senior thesis (Appendix B)