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Mieke Beth Thomeer

Associate Professor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Heritage Hall 460P
(205) 996-2301

Research and Teaching Interests: Aging, Family, Gender, Health, Sexuality

Office Hours: By appointment


  • BA, University of Virginia, Sociology
  • MA, University of Texas at Austin, Sociology
  • PhD, University of Texas at Austin, Sociology

I was first drawn to sociology because of an undergraduate class. I learned how sociology makes "the strange familiar and the familiar strange." I was taught basic principles of sociology in the classroom and then observed these same principles all around me — at the gym, at my job at a nursing home, in church, in my family relationships, and multiple other contexts. In these environments, I became most interested in questions about relationships, gender, sexuality, and health at older ages — topics my current research and teaching explores. For example, some of my past studies consider how one person’s depression impacts his/her spouse’s mental health, what intimacy looks like in gay, lesbian, and straight relationships, how nursing home admission rates differ across racial/ethnic groups, and how parenthood changes health habits.

My current research primarily addresses two questions:

  1. How do childbearing histories matter for women’s midlife health?
  2. How and why have health disparities shifted during the COVID-19 pandemic?

I address these research questions through statistically analyzing large datasets and through in-depth interviews, asking questions about their health and personal experiences across the life course.

I teach undergraduate and graduate courses on aging, intimate relationships and families, gender and sexuality, the body, health and illness, methods, theory, and general sociology. Through classroom discussion and assignments, I challenge students to connect what they learn through lectures, readings, and other media to broader social structures and realities and to critically examine their own lives and experiences and see them as embedded in broader social systems.

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  • Recent Courses
    • Introduction to Aging
    • Introduction to Sociology
    • Introduction to Sociology (Honors)
    • Intimate Relationships and the Family
    • Sociology of Sex and Gender
    • Body and Health (Graduate)
    • Qualitative Methods (Undergraduate and Graduate)
    • Dentistry & Culture (School of Dentistry) 
    • Sociology of Health and Illness (Graduate)
    • Medical Sociology Theory
    • Development of Social Theory
  • Select Publications
  • Select Research Funding
    • National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Motherhood Biographies and Midlife Women's Health, R01 AG069251, 2021-2025, MPIs: Mieke Beth Thomeer and Rin Reczek.
  • Academic Distinctions and Professional Societies
    • Deputy Editor, Journal of Marriage and Family
    • Best Mental Health Paper Award, Sociology of Mental Health Section, American Sociological Association, 2014
    • Louise Johnson Scholar Award: Academic Merit and Outstanding Scholarship, Medical Sociology Section, American Sociological Association, 2013
    • Editorial Board for the following journals: Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Social Psychology Quarterly, Sociology Compass
    • Secretary/Treasurer for Section on Aging and the Life Course, American Sociological Association