SPOTLIGHT: Dr. Jody Clay-Warner (Sociology)
Interviewed by Andrea Horsman
Dr. Jody Clay-Warner is a Meigs Professor of Sociology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and has been at the University of Georgia since 1998. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Emory University, where she took comprehensive exams in both Social Psychology and Criminology. She also earned a Certificate in Women’s Studies. Dr. Clay-Warner is the co-director of the Laboratory for the Study of Social Interaction (LASSI) and the co-Director of the Violence Work Group at OIBR. In addition to many UGA committees, she is currently on the editorial board of Emotion Review and is on the Executive Board of the International Society for Research on Emotion, where she serves as treasurer of the Society.
Dr. Clay-Warner has been the recipient of many distinguished awards, including:
- Women’s Leadership Fellow, University of Georgia, 2017-2018
- Owen’s Creative Research Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Behavioral & Social Science, University of Georgia, 2017
- Fellow, Society for Experimental Social Psychology, inducted 2009
- Lifetime Achievement Teaching Award, American Society of Criminology, 2013
She loves to teach and this semester she is teaching a graduate seminar on Theories of Social Psychology. This class is fun for her because she gets to revisit theories she does not currently use in her own work and has a chance to catch up on recent developments in social psychological theory. Over the summer, she teaches Crime in Global Context as part of the Liverpool Study Abroad Program, which she co-directs.
Dr. Clay-Warner says the most exciting thing about sociology is that basic sociological principles can be used to help understand so many different parts of the social world. This is what allows her to study topics that are as disparate as ‘over reward’ and ‘criminal victimization.’ In addition, because sociologists are interested in a variety of substantive topics, there are many opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration, which allows sociologists to benefit from and contribute to other fields of study, as well as have their research reach a broader audience.
The goal of Dr. Clay-Warner’s research is to understand responses to injustice. She addresses this issue through the lenses of social psychology and criminology. As a social psychologist, she is interested in advancing basic science and engages in controlled laboratory experiments to examine how people respond cognitively, emotionally, and behaviorally when they are treated unfairly. As a criminologist, she applies this knowledge to understand the experience of criminal victimization, which she conceptualizes as an extreme form of injustice. At UGA she studies sexual violence and, more recently, human trafficking. She is also interested in understanding processes of revictimization. Specifically, she is interested in the explaining why having experienced a victimization event increases risk for a future victimization.
Currently Dr. Clay-Warner is devoted to two projects, one of which is focused on human trafficking in sub-Saharan Africa and one focused on sexual misconduct on college campuses. The first project is in collaboration with UGA researchers Dr. David Okech, Tamora Callands, and Nate Hansen, as well as researchers in the UK and in Africa. This project, funded by the U.S. Department of State Program to End Modern Slavery involves measuring the prevalence of child trafficking, as well as selecting and then evaluating prevention/intervention programs. She is particularly involved in the prevalence estimation work, which involves the application of novel sampling and statistical techniques for measuring hidden populations. The second project is in collaboration with her Sociology department colleague Justine Tinkler. They are designing a series of experiments to uncover the underlying social processes that affect men and women’s beliefs and attitudes about policies designed to counteract sexual harassment/misconduct, such as affirmative consent policies. This work builds upon Dr. Tinkler’s previous work on reactions to sexual harassment policy trainings and Dr. Clay-Warner’s work on reactions to injustice and on sexual violence.
Dr. Jody Clay-Warner joined the management team at OIBR as Associate Director in August. As Associate Director of OIBR, she oversees the faculty seed grant program, serves on the Grantsmanship Development Program Committee and the OIBR executive committee. Jody also represents OIBR in various capacities across the UGA campus and beyond.
She has been affiliated with OIBR since 2000, when she was in the Institute’s mentoring program as an assistant professor. When asked why she wanted to be the Associate Director, she said, “I know how valuable OIBR has been to me, and I want to help others benefit from the Institute. I’ve served in a number of administrative roles on campus and would like to apply the knowledge and skills I’ve acquired to advance the Institute’s mission.” Her thoughts on the future of the Institute, “OIBR’s future is bright. We are serving an increasing number of faculty across campus and are handling more grant activity than ever before. I expect this trend to continue, particularly as funding agencies become more aware of the value of interdisciplinary work.”
Dr. Clay-Warner is married to Lee Warner, who is an epidemiologist and branch chief at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They met as freshmen at UNC-Chapel Hill and have been married for 27 years. Their son, Jared, is a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill, where he is double majoring in political science and communication studies. Their daughter, Avery, is a junior at UGA, double majoring in economics and criminal justice studies. That is four social science majors across two children, so clearly she did *something* right!
In her rare spare time, Dr. Clay-Warner enjoys hiking at the Botanical Gardens, pleasure reading, cooking and yoga. When asked if she had to pick another profession, what would it be? She replied, “If I were independently wealthy, I would choose to own a bookstore. I wouldn’t make any money, but I would be very happy.”