Name/Title: Grace Venechuk, PhD student in the Department of Sociology
Hometown: Boulder, Colorado
Educational Background: Bachelor’s in Music from Berklee; MA in Soc from UC-Denver
- What are your research interests and current research projects?
- Broadly, my research interests are health disparities, the life course and work quality. That’s fairly wide-ranging, though, so my current research projects are as well! I recently had a paper published in JHSB that looks at typologies of work quality-family formation and subsequent stress-related outcomes among men and women; I’m also working on a couple of projects exploring the relationship between wildfire, labor and health in Colorado, another on Quality Work Life Expectancy, and one examining the relationship between the housing shock of the Great Recession and accelerated epigenetic aging.
- How did you first connect to your field of research?
- I kind-of fell in by accident: I was engaged as a caregiver for a family member during my mid 20s, which meant I was thinking about how health is shaped by a life’s trajectory, and health disparities in general, with some frequency. I was drawn to the work largely because I worked in food service for over a decade, an industry which is absolutely rife with inequality.
- What attracted you to UW-Madison? To CDHA?
- The interdisciplinary aspect of the CDHA was a huge draw. I was also super interested in the work that was being done with regards to health in our department. And, of course, I really loved receiving training in demography as well as sociology!
- In what ways has CDHA impacted your graduate career? Are there any notable experiences with CDHA you will take away with you in future academic and professional endeavors?
- Well, the demography training is a huge impact—it’s really shaped how I approach research questions. I also have really appreciated being exposed to so many different types of research via Dem Sem—it’s incredibly useful to see how different disciplines tackle similar problems, or how ideas are framed differently, etc.
- Do you feel your work relates to the Wisconsin Idea? If so, how?
- I certainly hope so! I do think that most research related to labor and health must influence people’s lives beyond the boundaries of the classroom. To me it feels like the only ethical option. Particularly with regards to some of these thornier questions about aging and retirement; I really hope that the work I’m doing can, in some small way, provide additional context and meaning for these policy discussions.
- What’s one thing you hope people who are exposed to your research will come away with?
- That work across the life course shapes health in myriad, really important ways! It’s such a major part of most people’s lives, and is both shaped by AND shapes all sorts of social, political and institutional norms. It can be a resource or a burden. And, given that we have a rapidly aging population, it is more important than ever to begin thinking creatively about how to create a culture of work that is equitable and sustainable. For example, if you’re (at best) burning people out by the time they turn 60, it’s going to be really hard to convince them to delay retirement.
- What future plans and aspirations do you have once you have completed your time at UW-Madison?
- My primary goal is to find a job where I can engage with high-quality, meaningful research that hopefully helps better the world even just a little bit. Preferably related to health and aging. Luckily there are a number of different avenues by which that can be accomplished—Pop centers, traditional academia, think tanks—so I’m currently casting my net fairly wide.
- What are some hobbies and interests that occupy your time outside of your academic work?
- Music is still a big one! Also weightlifting (you never know when you might need to be strong enough to pull yourself up a cliff and out of Mount Doom), reading, cooking, baking cookies and bothering my cats.