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COVID-19 Research Project


The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a rapid transformation of work conditions and work-life balance for university faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students. Within a week, university instructors transitioned to working from home and teaching remotely, and university researchers experienced significant disruptions to research plans. Additionally, the psychological well-being of faculty and future faculty has been affected by looming uncertainty regarding the economic stability of the university.

  • To what extent have existing inequalities and feelings of insecurity within the academy been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic? 
  • To what extent has the university response to COVID-19, including policy initiatives and communication messages, helped mitigate the differential impacts on already vulnerable groups on the Texas A&M University campus? 

The ADVANCE COVID-19 project has been addressing these questions in an effort to understand the differential impacts of COVID-19 on work conditions and work-life balance, and to develop best practices going forward. This project focuses on three intersecting levels of vulnerability - gender, race/ethnicity, and appointment type.  We are especially interested in understanding the experiences of three particularly vulnerable groups: tenure-track faculty, academic professional track (APT) faculty, and “future” faculty (i.e. “ABD” graduate students and post-doctoral fellows). The project has involved two rounds of qualitative interviews with 100 scholars affiliated with the College Station campus of Texas A&M.

The research team has recently completed the second round of interviews, and data analysis is underway.  The research team will continue to share results of this study with members of the Texas A&M University community, and provide guidance to university administrators who are interested in learning how the pandemic is affecting faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and PhD students.  The results of this study will also serve as the basis for publications.


To date, members of the research team have given the following presentations to the Texas A&M community:

  • Cynthia Werner, "Differential Impacts of COVID-19 on Scholars at TAMU: Summary & Recommendations from the ADVANCE COVID-19 Project," Presentation to the Diversity Operations Council (October 14, 2021)
  • Cynthia Werner and Heather Wilkinson, "COVID in the Long Haul: Recognizing the Long-Term Impacts of COVID-19 on Faculty Careers," Department Head Development Series Workshop (October 6, 2021)
  • Cynthia Werner, Elizabeth Jenkins & Angelique Nevarez Maes, "Differential Impacts of Covid-19 on Scholars at Texas A&M: Preliminary Findings from the ADVANCE Covid-19 Study," Public Presentation (via Zoom) (May 27, 2021)
  • Cynthia Werner, "What are we learning about the impacts of COVID-19 on faculty: Early observations from an interview project," Presentation to the monthly Dean of Faculties Conversation Cafe (May 7, 2021)
  • Elizabeth Jenkins & Angelique Nevarez Maes, "Insecurity and Inequality in Academia: The Differential Impacts of COVID-19 on Work Conditions and Work-Life Balance among the Texas A&M Academic Community," Poster Presentation for the School of Innovation (April 2021)
  • Cynthia Werner, "The Differential Impacts of COVID-19: Preliminary Findings from a Qualitative Study of PhD Students at Texas A&M" Presentation during the Vaughn M. Bryant Annual Anthropology Conference (April 1, 2021)
  • Lawren Lee Walker, Benyt Hagler, and Cynthia Werner, "Invisible Labor & Emotional Labor of TAMU Faculty during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Student Perspectives," Presentation at the RISE Conference (March 26, 2021)
  • Heather Wilkinson, Cynthia Werner and Blanca Lupiani, "How to approach faculty evaluation this year: Contemplating the impact of COVID-19" Presentation for the Depeartment Head Development Series (November 4, 2020)



Research Team


Cynthia Werner, Professor of Anthropology and Director of ADVANCE
Elizabeth Jenkins, PhD Candidate in Psychological and Brain Sciences
Vansa Shewakramani Hanson, PhD Candidate in Sociology

Faculty Team Members include Mindy Bergman, Mary Campbell, Tracy Hammond, Claire Katz, Vicente Lechuga, Blanca Lupiani, Stephanie Payne, Christine Stanley, Cynthia Werner, Heather Wilkinson, Sherry Yennello, and Michelle Yeoman.

Graduate Student Team Members include Linzi Berkowitz, Mary Katie Constantin, Gemini Creason-Parker, Clarissa Fischer, Vansa Shewakramani Hanson, Elizabeth Jenkins, Kevin Johnson, Angelique Nevarez Maes, Aigul Seralinova, and Rose Siuta.

Undergraduate Team Members include Casey Black, Kate Biehl, Madison Gulley, Benyt Hagler, Paige Musgrave, Shreya Rao, and Lawren Lee Walker.

Resource Page

Team members have put together a set of resources and articles on COVID-19 pandemic as it relates to academia.


This project is supported by funds from the following units:

  • Texas A&M School of Innovation
  • Texas A&M College of Liberal Arts
  • Texas A&M Office for Diversity
  • Texas A&M's Glasscock Center for Humanities Research.

IRB Approval

This project was approved by Texas A&M Institutional Review Board (IRB) on July 21, 2020. IRB # 2020-0682D.