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Rachel Donnelly

Assistant Professor of Sociology

How do social relationships and stress shape health and mortality?

My research focuses on the social determinants of mental and physical health, with an emphasis on the role of stress/adversity and family relationships throughout the life course. In my research, I also examine how disparate experiences based on gender, sexual orientation, and race shape disparities in health, including the processes contributing to health. Taken together, my research tends to take a critical look at emerging trends (e.g., the rise in precarious work) and social changes (e.g., same-sex marriages) to gain new understandings of the implications for health.

In one line of research, for example, I consider how precarious work – work that is insecure and uncertain – undermines marriage and erodes health in midlife adults, with attention to differences by race and gender. In another line of research, I explore how same-sex and different-sex spouses experience and cope with illness, stress, and distress. My research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and published in journals such as Journal of Health and Social BehaviorSociety and Mental Health, and Journal of Aging and Health.