Sociology Professor Wins Prestigious National Award

Assistant Professor of Sociology Miranda Waggoner has received a prestigious CAREER award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a National Science Foundation-wide activity that offers NSF’s most significant awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

NSF CAREER awards provide funding and opportunities to work closely with the NSF in refining the direction of research.

The grant, which carries nearly $450,000 in funding over a five-year period, will support Waggoner’s research and teaching activities on the social dimensions of biomedical research ethics.

Biomedical research is crucial for developing scientific knowledge about effective medical interventions. Yet until recent changes in the rules governing human research subjects, obstetric patients have been excluded from biomedical research due to concerns about vulnerability, risk and harm, leading to a dearth of scientific knowledge about this population.

Waggoner’s project will investigate past and present changes in biomedical research regulations that have consequences for ethical considerations of clinical work and for what we know about reproduction and health.

“This award will allow me to build and facilitate crucial connections between the fields of sociology and bioethics over the next five years, with ongoing implications for understandings of scientific knowledge production, research regulations and clinical care for vulnerable populations,” Waggoner said.

This project’s education plan centers on expanding instruction in science and technology studies and ethics. Students going into applied research, clinical work, public sector positions and academia will be provided productive training for critically assessing, managing and studying key issues in population health and research ethics.

The broader impacts of Waggoner’s project also include producing white papers, training graduate students and convening an interdisciplinary workshop that advances academic and public dialogue about reproduction and research.

In addition to the research, the award will support Waggoner’s development of new courses in the college, such as a public health ethics course that will be part of the degree program in public health.

“Dr. Waggoner has quickly become a leading expert in her field, and this NSF Career Award confirms that her research and scholarship are at the forefront of the discipline of sociology,” said Kathi Tillman, chair of the sociology department. “We are exceedingly proud to have her on faculty with us at FSU.”

“This NSF CAREER award – the first ever for a member of the COSSPP faculty – caps an already very impressive career for Dr. Waggoner at FSU,” said Dean Tim Chapin. “The college is pleased to have been part of the foundation for her success, and we look forward to seeing where Dr. Waggoner’s groundbreaking research leads.”

The Florida State University Office of Faculty Recognition’s Extraordinary Accomplishments Program recognizes CAREER awards as particularly prestigious, providing stable funding in the early phase of a faculty member’s career and a significant step towards receiving tenure. Recipients are also eligible for a base salary increase.