Dr. Whitney Laster Pirtle is currently an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California – Merced. Her research interests include race and racism, identity, mental health, and quantitative methods. Her research is primarily informed by social psychological framework, and explores how social structures, like racial hierarchies, impact individuals lived experiences, well-being, and identities.
Whitney describes her path to professor as neither predictable nor easy—for instance, her single mother was a homeless college dropout at the time of her birth—but she credits her life experiences as motivating factors for her Ph.D. in Sociology. Moreover, her overarching goal as an academic is to better understand, and potentially alleviate, the structural inequalities that disadvantage those who come from marginalized positions, and to mentor and support students who have traveled similar paths (e.g., female students, students of color, low income, first generation college students).
Personal Bio: Whitney grew up in East Lansing, Michigan and then went to undergrad at Grand Valley State University on the west side of the state. Her undergraduate research experiences as a McNair scholar influenced her motivation to go on to graduate school. She went on to earn her PhD at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. She is now enjoying California living. Outside of work, she stays busy being active with her husband, two sons, and Boston Terrier.
Pictured below first at graduation with graduate school friend Ebony Duncan, now Assistant Professor at Washington University in St. Louis. And then with UC Merced colleagues, Tanya Golash-Boza and Zulema Valdez, holding the new ASA journal: The Sociology of Race and Ethnicity.