Barbara Entwisle, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Sociology, is the Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Barbara Entwisle received a B.A in Sociology-Anthropology from Swarthmore College in 1975 and a Ph.D. in Sociology from Brown University in 1980. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship in economic demography at the University of Michigan, she started her career as a faculty member at Dartmouth College in 1982. In 1985, she joined the Department of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where, from 2002 to 2010, she directed the Carolina Population Center.
Barbara Entwisle is an intellectual leader in the field of population. Her key contribution is perhaps best summarized in her presidential address to the Population Association of America in 2007. Elegantly embodied in the title of “Putting People Into Place,” Barbara championed the role of demographers in explaining individual behavior and outcomes in relation to dynamic social and spatial contexts, a signature research theme in much of her own work. From her early work on multilevel models, to her later work on social and spatial networks and agent-based models, Barbara’s pioneering conceptual and methodological contributions to scholarship have led us to represent better the social, spatial, dynamic, and multilevel contexts within which individuals are situated. Barbara’s scholarship links insights from sociology, demography, geography and health, spanning multiple countries on four continents. She was engaging in multidisciplinary and multinational research long before they became major buzz words in the scientific community, and it is not a coincidence that Barbara has assumed faculty appointments across five academic departments/curricula.
In recognition of her scientific contributions, Barbara is an elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Other significant professional roles include: president-elect of the Sociological Research Association (2014), president of the Population Association of America (2007), and co-editor of Demography (1999-2001). In addition, she has served on numerous professional boards, committees, and grant review panels, including as a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Population (2006-2012), the Board on Research Data and Information for the National Research Council (2012-2013), and as a chair or member of multiple NIH Study Section panels.
Barbara has played a leading role in visioning, developing, and promoting the public nature of population data. She has played a significant intellectual role in the design and/or implementation of the Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey, the China Health and Nutrition Study, the Nang Rong Projects, the Adolescent Health Project, and most recently the North Carolina vanguard sites for the National Children´s Study. She has also served on the Board of Overseers for the General Social Survey. Advocating for data sharing and archiving, Barbara has been a leader in ensuring that population data are available to generations of researchers.
Barbara Entwisle is also an outstanding and beloved teacher and mentor. Her dedication to the mentoring of graduate students, post-doctoral research associates, and junior faculty is extraordinary. It is no surprise that she has been celebrated with multiple teaching and mentoring awards. These include an NICHD Mentor Award for Excellence in Research Training, a UNC Distinguished Teaching Award for Post-Baccalaureate Instruction, and several teaching and mentoring awards from successive cohorts of sociology graduate students over two decades. Her students express gratitude for her careful guidance, incisive critiques, sage advice, and remarkable generosity. While Barbara is known for spending countless hours preparing careful comments on works in progress, she always finds time to relax over a cup of coffee or glass of wine, and share a good story or laugh in friendship.
Impressively, as a scholar, teacher, and administrator, Barbara has been recognized at the highest levels for her skill and accomplishment. She has an uncanny knack for simplifying complex social phenomena and relationships into logical integrated representations, not to mention a sixth sense for recognizing the possibility that new scientific frontiers hold for population science and other fields, attributes she brings to her many roles. Barbara’s career embraces fully scholarship, teaching, and service. A theme throughout, however, is her unwavering commitment to the field of population. To the benefit of population practitioners, Barbara has worked tirelessly to advance understanding of the value of population sciences in public and academic realms.
As a brilliant leader and teacher, generous colleague and mentor, and forward-thinking population scientist, Barbara Entwisle inspires those around her. We celebrate her many accomplishments and thank her for her countless contributions to the field of population.