Research in Arts and Sciences

Social Sciences Faculty


Heide Island


Heide Island

Associate Professor, Psychology

Heide’s research is broad-based. Her studies have largely focused on comparative self control—what environmental factors influence impulsive behavior both among human and nonhuman animals: time, daily energy, resources, etc. “I am interested in risk-sensitivity and how that might change from a risk-averse responder to a risk-prone responder depending upon the environmental triggers like resource dearth, caloric loss, or depressed energy level,” she says.

Currently, she is working with three other collaborators on “the implementation of a psychometric instrument inspired by what we know about our neurochemistry, the goal is to accurately match people who are looking for long-term romantic relationships.”

Island also has prospects in writing a non-academic book on the institutions in place, both economic and cultural, that shape a couple's decision to become parents. “Specifically,” she states, “I am interested in the life satisfaction, economic health, and familial relationships among dual-income couples (both traditional and nontraditional) who choose not to have children and how we as a culture treat these couples.”



Cheleen Mahar


Cheleen Mahar

Professor of Anthropology.


One important reason I chose anthropology is the disciplinary methodology that is implicated in its practice. In our field the key research tool is participant observation. What this means is that we explore the lived experience of our informants, doing long-term research, living in the field, and then, leaving the field, we write ethnographies about that experience. Such information is critical when applied to health care delivery, public health issues, issues of economic equality, marketing products that are useful to consumers, and government policies, both domestic and international. Being a social anthropologist has allowed me to travel the world, and to be touched and humbled by the people I have had the good fortune to meet and live beside. If this sort of experience is attractive to you, please join us in anthropology.



Andrew Dawes


Jaye Cee Whithead

Associate Professor, Sociology

My love for sociology began right here at Pacific University. The sociological imagination satisfied my curiosity about the social world at the same time that it ignited my passion for understanding power and inequality. I didn’t come to Pacific knowing that I wanted to be a sociology major, let alone a sociologist. Frankly, I took my first sociology course by accident and soon discovered that it motivated me to actually get out of bed and go to class. In my sociology courses we discussed everything from the mundane activities of everyday life, to grand questions about the economy, politics, culture, gender, race, and religion.

My early love for sociology never disappeared. As a professor of sociology at Pacific, I enjoy the unique opportunity to contribute to the department that ignited my initial desires to understand and change the social world.