I use computational methods – principally text analysis, natural language processing, machine learning, and network analysis techniques – to study social movements, culture, gender, and organizations and institutions. Substantively, her research has examined processes around the formation of collective identities and social movement strategy in feminist and environmental movements, continuities between cycles of activism and the role of place in shaping social movement activity, intersectionality in women’s movements and in the lived experiences during the 19th century in the U.S. South, gender inequality in startups and entrepreneurship, the translation of academic ideas to practice in the National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program (a program aimed at promoting women in STEM field in higher education), and gender inequality in emergency medicine departments. Methodologically, she has proposed frameworks to combine computational methods and machine learning with qualitative methods, including the computational grounded theory framework and leveraging the alignment between machine learning and the intersectionality research paradigm. She has developed and taught courses introducing social science and humanities students to computational methods and the scripting languages Python and R, data science courses, and graduate-level sociological theory. She is currently a co-PI on a million-dollar grant through the National Science Foundation to study the spread of gender-equity ideas related to STEM fields through higher education networks, primarily in the United States.
My current research projects include examining intersectionality in U.S. women’s movements; coverage of social movements in news media over time; ways in which history is recorded and remembered, particularly related to social movements; gender inequality in startups and entrepreneurship, emergency medicine, and other STEM fields; and the spread of gender-equity ideas related to STEM fields through networks in higher education (funded by a National Science Foundation grant).
Nelson, Laura K. Accepted. “Cycles of Conflict, a Century of Continuity: The Impact of Persistent Place-Based Political Logics on Women’s Movement Form.” American Journal of Sociology.
Nelson, Laura K. and Kathrin Zippel. 2021 (online first). “From Theory to Practice and Back: How the Concept of Implicit Bias was Implemented in Academe, and What this Means for Gender Theories of Organizational Change.” Gender & Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/08912432211000335
Nelson, Laura K. 2021 (online first). “Leveraging the Alignment between Machine Learning and Intersectionality: Using Word Embeddings to Measure Intersectional Experiences of the Nineteenth Century U.S. South.” Poetics. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304422X21000115
Replication Repository: https://github.com/lknelson/measuring_intersectionality
Nelson, Laura K., Derek Burk, Marcel Knudsen, and Leslie McCall. 2021. “The Future of Coding: A Comprehensive Comparison of Hand-Coding and Computer-Assisted Text Analysis Methods.” Sociological Methods and Research 50 (1): 202-237.
Replication Repository: https://github.com/lknelson/future-of-coding
Nelson, Laura K. and Brayden G King. 2020. “The Meaning of Action: Linking Goals, Tactics, and Strategies in the Environmental Movement.” Mobilization: An International Quarterly 25 (3): 315–338.
Nelson, Laura K. 2020. “Computational Grounded Theory: A Methodological Framework.” Sociological Methods and Research 49 (1): 3-42.
Replication Repository: https://github.com/lknelson/computational-grounded-theory
Weber, I., Darwish, K.M., Wagner, C., Zagheni, E., Nelson, L., Aref, S., Flöck, F. (eds.). 2019. Social Informatics. Proceedings of the 11th International Conference, SocInfo 2019, Doha, Qatar, November 18–21.
Nelson, Laura K. 2018. “‘Feminism Means More Than a Changed World…It Means the Creation of a New Consciousness in Women’: Feminism, Consciousness-Raising, and Continuity Between the Waves.” Pp. 175-197 in 100 Years of the Nineteenth Amendment: An Appraisal of Women’s Political Activism, edited by Holly J. McCammon and Lee Ann Banasak. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Crossley, Alison Dahl and Laura K. Nelson. 2018. “Feminists Reshaping Gender.” Pp. 549-559 in Springer Handbook of the Sociology of Gender, edited by Barbara Risman, Carissa Froyum, and William Scarborough. New York: Springer Press.
2020: Best Meta-Reviewer, 12th International Conference on Social Informatics (SocInfo20)
2020: Outstanding Faculty of the Year (given by the graduate students at Northeastern University, Department of Sociology and Anthropology)