Three Sociology faculty promoted this spring

June 19, 2023

MSU Sociology is pleased to congratulate Drs. Molly Copeland, stef shuster and Xuefei Ren on their recent promotions approved by the MSU Board of Trustees at its June meeting. 

  • Dr. Molly Copeland has earned reappointment to a second probationary appointment as an Assistant Professor.
  • Dr. stef shuster has earned a promotion to Associate Professor with tenure.
  • Dr. Xuefei Ren has earned a promotion to Professor.

"Molly, stef, and Xuefei are each very impressive, and each has rather different scholarly profile/approach," said Sociology Chair Dr. Aaron McCright. "Please join me in congratulating them on their successes—which were never in doubt!"

Xuefei RenDr. Ren is an urban sociologist and her research intersects with all three signature areas of the Department of Sociology at MSU—health, environment, and migration. On health inequity, she is a principal investigator on a large international project that examines how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected vulnerable neighborhoods in Chicago, Toronto, and Johannesburg. On environment, she has published extensively on environmental governance in China and India, focusing on air pollution. On migration, she has been studying rural-to-urban migrants in China and their rights to housing. 




stef shusterDually appointed with Lyman Briggs College, Dr. stef shuster's current research and teaching areas are united by an overarching interest in how evidence is a social artifact that is constituted through social, cultural, and historical contexts. Across their projects, shuster asks: who constructs evidence, how does evidence confer authority to individuals and groups, and how is it mobilized by social actors? These dimensions of evidence are a centralized feature of shuster’s scholarship in three domains including how: 1) medical providers negotiate evidence to make medical decisions within uncertain terrains; 2) social movement actors use evidence to make claims about social issues; and 3) language is used in interaction to regulate subjugated groups.



Molly CopelandDr. Molly Copeland joined the department in August 2020. Her research joins social network analysis and medical sociology to examine how social relationships can benefit or introduce risks to health across the life course. Most of her work examines how patterns of connections with others relate to mental health in ways that vary by gender, by network context, and for at-risk groups, such as isolated youth. Current research projects examine how adolescent peer networks relate to depression, self-harm, physical health, and substance use in adolescence, with persistent effects on adult health. She received her doctoral degree in sociology from Duke University.