Placement

Rural Sociology Graduate Student Placement

STEFANIE CHRISTENSEN FRANCISCO
Stefanie Christensen Francisco is the communications director for Conservation Alabama, a non-profit organization that lobbies the state legislature on behalf of our state’s natural resources. Previously, she worked in national news production at CNN, Politico, and the PBS NewsHour. She graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in political science and received a master’s degree in rural sociology from Auburn University, where her research focused on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill’s impact on the Gulf Coast seafood industry. Before joining Conservation Alabama, she served as partnership coordinator at Mobile Baykeeper. Stefanie and her family live in Montgomery.

JENNIE HARGROVE
Jennie Hargrove is a Youth Program Specialist with the Iowa 4-H Youth Development Program. In her role, she provides program, volunteer, and professional supports to seven county 4-H programs in south central Iowa. Jennie completed her B.S. in Family and Consumer Sciences Professional Studies at Iowa State University before completing her M.S. in Rural Sociology at Auburn University. Jennie is a member of the Rural Sociological Association as well as Iowa’s chapter of the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents.

EMILY BLEJWAS
Emily Blejwas directs the Gulf States Health Policy Center in Bayou La Batre, AL. She previously worked in research and community development for the Community Foundation of South Alabama and the Economic & Community Development Institute at Auburn University. She serves as Chair of the Mobile United Health Task Force, as a board member for the Bayou La Batre Chamber of Commerce, and as a volunteer for the Alma Bryant High School Writers Guild. She is the author of three books: The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods, Once You Know This, and Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened. Emily holds degrees from Auburn University and Kenyon College, and lives in Mobile, AL with her husband and four children.

KARL GALLOWAY
Karl Galloway currently serves as the Cultural Resource Specialist for the Alabama Bicentennial Commission. In this capacity he promotes historical and cultural events throughout the state, and assists smaller municipalities in organizing their own celebrations. He also acts as public programs coordinator and content specialist, producing promotional materials in Spanish and English.

RIVA DENNY
Riva completed her MS in rural sociology at Auburn in 2012 where she wrote her master’s thesis on the differences between red meat inspection regulations at the state and federal levels and the implications that these differences have for small slaughterhouses and the local meat production and distribution systems of which they are a part. She completed her PhD in sociology at Michigan State University in 2018 with graduate specializations in Ecological Food and Farming Systems, and Environmental Science and Policy, and a certificate in Environmental and Social Systems Modeling. She wrote her dissertation on Midwestern farmers use of soil and water conservation practices. Riva is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan where she is studying family forest owners’ perceptions of climate change impacts and their forest management practices in the Upper Midwest and the Pacific Northwest.

LORD KWAKYE AMEYAW
Lord Kwakye Ameyaw completed a Master of Science Degree in Rural Sociology from Auburn University in 2013. He recently completed a PhD in Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. Lord works as an Agroforester with the Nebraska Forest Service in collaboration with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Agroforestry Center and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Lord’s scholarly work involves the interface between Natural Resource Management and the Social Dimensions, for which he has conducted various research studies in Southern US, the Pacific Northwest and his home country Ghana. He currently lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with his wife and two kids.

VANESSA CASANOVA
Dr. Casanova earned a BA in International Studies from the University of Alabama, MS in Rural Sociology and PhD in Forestry from Auburn University with postgraduate training in the fields of labor studies and public health. She joined the faculty of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler in 2013 and devotes her time to teaching, research, and service for the School of Community and Rural Health (Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences). Dr. Casanova is the director of the NIOSH-funded Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention and Education. She previously served as the Applied Research Manager. The SW Ag Center has an established record of conducting comprehensive research that addresses the needs of workers in agriculture, commercial fishing, and forestry across Public Health Region 6. Dr. Casanova is the co-investigator in the Pilot/Feasibility Studies Core for the Center. In this role she recruits, reviews, and administers short-term agricultural health and safety research projects. She also serves as research mentor to junior faculty and students new to the field. She is currently the chair of the Curriculum, Instruction, & Technology Committee for the School. She is the chair of the institution’s faculty senate and serves as co-chair of the Governance Committee to the System-wide Faculty Advisory Council. Dr. Casanova was recently awarded the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award.

MICHELE VITALE
Michele completed his MS in Rural Sociology at Auburn in 2007; his thesis analyzed the socio-economic, cultural and geographic barriers that Hispanic residents face to access primary care services in rural Georgia. He completed his PhD in Geography at Wilfrid Laurier University in 2016. He wrote his dissertation on the lifestyle behavioral changes that recent immigrants may experience after settling in Canada. Michele is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics at Concordia University, where he is studying the relationship between the built environment, diet, physical activity, and health outcomes.

JAMES H. PATTERSON III
James H. Patterson III is the Geographical Information System (GIS) Analyst for the Department of Information Technology for Clayton County in Georgia. In this role, he manages all technical aspects of Geographical Information Systems for emergency services in the county as well as developing web-based interactive maps and applications for the public that are implemented county-wide. He serves as the liaison with departments and other agencies to define needs, new application, and integrate GIS. James received his B.S. in Forestry Science with a minor in Business Administration from Alabama A & M University, where he began working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 8 years moving around the South to be promoted to several positions. He attained a degree from the University of Idaho in Fire Ecology, Management and Technology while serving as a Fire Ecologist in FL. He moved to Auburn in 2014 as an Environmental Scientist at the USDA Research and Development Lab before leaving to attend Graduate School at Auburn University in 2016. He has 2 son’s and currently resides in Atlanta, GA with his family.

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JOHN CANFIELD
John Canfield is a Ph.D. student in the Sociology program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2019, he received his M.S. in Rural Sociology at Auburn University, where his research focused on the financialization of farmland in rural Illinois. His advisor was Loka Ashwood. Before studying at Auburn, he double majored in Philosophy and Environmental Studies at Sewanee: The University of the South. He is interested in the convergence of areas of rural, environmental, and economic sociology and plans to continue studying these issues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is currently working on two projects. At Wisconsin, he is looking at nonprofit land acquisitions in Montana. Continuing to collaborate with professors at Auburn, he is also working with Loka Ashwood and Ryan Thompson on an analysis of the corporate and financial structures of industrial hog corporations.

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AMANDA STITT MOORE
Amanda Stitt Moore is a development officer for Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC). In that capacity Amanda combines her passion for agriculture, higher education, and rural communities as she secures funding for ABAC, an institution that has a half a billion-dollar economic impact on South Georgia. After earning a B.S. in agriculture, Amanda completed a M.S. in Rural Sociology at Auburn where she studied the implications of the media on knowledge of and access to alternative food networks in rural communities. She serves as the President of the alumni chapter of Sigma Alpha, a professional agricultural sorority and is a member of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Amanda currently lives on a small farm with her husband and their two horses in Newnan, Georgia.

JAMES HUTCHINS
James Hutchins is a 1997 graduate of the Master of Science program in Rural Sociology. He focused on integrated conservation and development and he researched the establishment of a community forest concession in the Maya Biosphere Reserve for his thesis. He has worked in several management roles in the international development field, focusing primarily on promoting effective natural resources management in rural areas. James currently works as the Executive Director of the Jane Goodall Institute in Uganda, where he oversees integrated conservation and development activities focused on protecting chimpanzee habitat in the Albertine Rift landscape.

JANICE FREW DYER
Janice Frew Dyer completed her MS in Rural Sociology in 2007 and her PhD in Forestry in 2012, both at Auburn University. Janice spent several years teaching Sociology at Calhoun Community College in North Alabama, and Sustainable Food Systems at Lipscomb University in Nashville. She also worked as a project coordinator for the Food Bank of North Alabama, overseeing the non-profit organization’s Farm Food Collaborative. It was during this time working with farmers to implement Good Agricultural Practices and prepare for food safety audits that Janice realized her love of identifying and mitigating risks. She now works in cybersecurity helping government customers manage risks associated with information systems and to become compliant with ever-evolving regulations and criteria. Janice credits the research-oriented, multi-disciplinary education she received at Auburn with her success in transitioning to a new field and being able to quickly learn new concepts. Cybersecurity occurs at the intersection of people, technology, and policy, and Janice is able to bring a unique perspective to her role by applying “systems thinking” learned during her time in Auburn’s Rural Sociology program.

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LINDY OLIVE
Lindy Olive is a research project coordinator at Northwestern University. She manages projects related to how women spend their time in a day (the 24-hour cycle) and outcomes for cardiovascular health. While at Auburn, she focused on local food systems, meal kits for low-income families, and women’s unpaid labor. She aims to make health research more participatory at every stage and hopes to begin a PhD program in the near future. Lindy received a bachelors in nutrition (2016) and masters in rural sociology (2018) from Auburn University, and she now lives in Chicago.

DALTON RICHARDSON
Dalton Richardson received an MS in Rural Sociology at Auburn University before joining the Sociology PhD program at the University of Oregon, where he is currently a Graduate Teaching Fellow. His research interests include rural life in the United States, environmental justice activism and processes, and the sociological dimensions of climate change. Once finished, he hopes to become a professor somewhere.