Barbara Entwisle

Kenan Distinguished Professor of Sociology, UNC Department of Sociology; Fellow, Carolina Population Center

Barbara Entwisle is the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Sociology in the department of sociology at UNC-Chapel Hill. Entwisle  studies social context and demographic and health behavior and outcomes. Her recent research has focused on two sets of projects. The first examines the demographic responses to rapid social change, migration and social networks, and the interrelationships between population and environment in Northeast Thailand. With Rindfuss and Walsh, she has explored population growth (mainly through migration) and land use change in a variety of ways. With Rindfuss and others, she has described and demonstrated the importance of variability in the structure of village-based networks. She has synthesized these and other results to build agent-based models of household dynamics and land use change. These models are innovative in that they incorporate social ties and networks as fully endogenous elements. They provide considerable insight into the interconnectedness of demographic processes.

The other major project Barbara led in the past several years was two North Carolina Vanguard locations of the National Children’s Study (NCS), a large longitudinal study of how social, behavioral, community and environmental factors affect human health and development. Her activities included significant contributions to the sampling strategies for this study, protocol development, and leadership in field operations involving evaluating recruitment strategies, multiple surveys, and collection of biological specimens and environmental samples. Her work on the NCS continued a long history of engagement in major data infrastructure projects, including the design and implementation of innovative social surveys around the world, including landmark studies of the CPC such as Add Health, the China Health and Nutrition Survey, the Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey, and the Nang Rong Surveys, and which has now evolved into an interest in “social observatories. In the next several years, she will pursue this interest in the context of studies of population, health, and environment.

Entwisle previously served as vice chancellor for research at Carolina. In that role, she led the office in supporting the University’s research mission with a special emphasis on encouraging interdisciplinary activities. She served as Carolina Population Center (CPC) Director for eight years (2002-2010) and as CPC’s Training Program Director for six of those years (2002-2008).