Elaine Howard Ecklund

Areas of Interest: 
Religion, science, immigration, and culture


Elaine Howard Ecklund joined the Rice University sociology department in fall 2008. In addition Ecklund is director of the Religion and Public Life Program in the Social Sciences Research Institute and a Rice Scholar at the Baker Institute for Public Policy. Exploring mechanisms of institutional change draws together Ecklund's research. Specifically, she is interested in how individuals develop cognitive schema—ways of interpreting the world—that are at odds with institutions that constrain them. She then examines how individuals use such frameworks to bring changes to these larger institutions. Her research addresses this theoretical topic in the areas of religion, immigration, science, and gender. Ecklund is the author of two books with Oxford University Press, twenty-seven peer-reviewed research articles, and numerous op-eds. She has received 4 million dollars in grants and awards, including those from the National Science Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation,John Templeton Foundation, and Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Her latest book, Science Vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think was chosen by Times Higher Education as an international book of the week and named a book of the year on religion by the Huffington Post. Her research has been covered in national and international news media, including USA Today, Nature, The Wall Street Journal, and Xinhua News. She received a PhD in 2004 from Cornell University, where she was the recipient of the Class of 2004 Graduate Student Baccalaureate Award for Academic Excellence and Community Service. In 2011 Ecklund was named among the top five percent of junior faculty teachers at Rice University. Over the next few years, Ecklund’s research will examine how scientists in six different nations understand religion and ethics. In addition, through a cooperative project with the American Association for the Advancement of Science Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion program, she will study how four different US religious groups understand science. She is writing a book (with Anne Lincoln) tentatively titled, Beyond the Ideal Scientist, which examines how women and men at elite research universities negotiate careers as academic scientists alongside family life. Ecklund teaches classes at the graduate and undergraduate level on immigration, sociology of science, classical sociological theory, and sociology of religion.

Recent Publications

2013 David Johnson,* Elaine Howard Ecklund, and Anne E. Lincoln, “How Scientists Frame Outreach,” Science Communication, forthcoming.   

2013 Christian Smith, Brandon Vaidyanathan, Nancy Tatom Ammerman, José Casanova, Hilary Davidson, Elaine Howard Ecklund, John H. Evans, Philip S. Gorski, Mary Ellen Konieczny, Jason A. Springs, Jenny Trinitapoli, and Meredith Whitnah, “Twenty-Three Theses on the Status of Religion in American Sociology: A Mellon Working-Group Reflection,” Journal of American Academy of Religion, December.     

2012 Ecklund, Elaine Howard, Eva Shih,* Michael O. Emerson, and Samuel Kye,* “Rethinking the Connection between Religion and Civic Life for Immigrants: The Exploratory Case of the Chinese Diaspora,” Review of Religious Research, published online Dec. 2012forthcoming in print issue.  

2012 Jeremy R. Porter* and Elaine Howard Ecklund, “Missing Data in Sociological Research: An Overview of Recent Trends and an Illustration for Controversial Questions, Active Nonrespondents and Targeted Samples,” The American Sociologist, 43(4):448-468.   

2012Ecklund, Elaine Howard, Anne Lincoln, and Cassandra Tansey,* “Gender Segregation in Elite Academic Science,” Gender and Society, 26(5):693-717.  

2012Ecklund, Elaine Howard, Sarah James,* and Anne E. Lincoln, “How Academic Biologists and Physicists View Science Outreach,” PLoS ONE, 7(5): e36240.   

2011Ecklund, Elaine Howard and Kristen Schultz Lee, “Atheists and Agnostics Negotiate Religion and Family,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 50(4): 728-743.  

2011 Ecklund, Elaine Howard, Jerry Z. Park, and Katherine L. Sorrell.* “Scientists Negotiate Boundaries Between Religion and Science,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 50(3): 552-569.    

2011Ecklund, Elaine Howard and Anne E. Lincoln, “Scientists Want More Children,” PLoS ONE, 6(8): e22590. 

2011 Ecklund, Elaine Howard and Elizabeth Long, “Scientists and Spirituality,” Sociology of Religion,72 (3): 253-274 

Elaine Howard Ecklund
Autrey Professor of Sociology Ph.D., Cornell University

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(713) 348-6761