Student Spotlight November 2016

    Kent Pugh

    Kent Pugh




    Kent earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Berea College. He then came to the University of Louisville, where he earned a Master of Arts degree in Sociology. After his Master’s program, Kent stayed at the University of Louisville and is currently working towards a PhD in Applied Sociology.




    1.What brought you to the University of Louisville?

    I was really drawn to the faculty and staff here at the University of Louisville. They provided a very supportive and encouraging environment to conduct research and scholarship.

    2. Specific areas of research (how you chose this research, why it interested you):

    My research can be broadly defined as Environmental Demography. I focus on the impacts of environmental pollution and problems on population health. My dissertation examines the longitudinal impacts of coal mining on mortality rates in the Appalachian region.

    3. How would you describe your area of study/ specific research to your grandmother?

    I study how environmental pollution from coal mining impacts people’s health and wellbeing.

    4. What made you go into this field?

    I’m from the Appalachian region and I have a real love and passion for the region.

    5. Awards, honors, publications:

    Outstanding Research Award, Department of Sociology, UofL – Spring 2014
    Alice Eaves Barns Award – Spring 2014 UofL SIGS
    Dean’s Citation – Spring 2014

    6. How do you think this advanced degree will change your role in society?

    I hope my research can help change the policy debate about coal mining. In particular, I hope it can advocate for policies that help coal mining communities remediate environmental destruction to improve their health and wellbeing.

    7. Long term goals/aspirations?

    My long terms goals are to develop and establish a career and mentor students who come from similar backgrounds as myself, encourage them to pursue higher education, and achieve their goals.

    8. What accomplishment, academic or otherwise, are you most proud of?

    Neither of my parents graduated high school. I grew up in a very modest household, to say the least, in a rural community. I’ve been a first generation student in high school, college, and now graduate school. The fact that I have made it as far as I have in higher education is the achievement I am most proud of.

    9. What has been your favorite part of the graduate school experience at UofL?

    I have met so many wonderful faculty, staff and fellow students here at UofL. Meeting them has been my favorite part of graduate school.

    10. What do you feel is the greatest challenge that graduate students face and how have you dealt with this challenge?

    Graduate school can be a lonely place sometimes. You spend long hours studying, writing, and researching and don’t have much time for a social life. I think it’s important to build a small network of people who you can call on for support and who can count on you for support. We are small enough in the Sociology Department that we’ve developed a pretty strong connection with each other. We purposely spend time together watching movies, bowling, hanging out, and even traveling to conferences together.

    11. Family Life:

    I have always highly valued my family, they have been my rock in times of trouble.

    Fun Facts
    A talent you have always wanted: Singing. I cannot carry a tune with a bucket.
    Favorite book: Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
    Favorite quote: “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.” – Mother Harris Jones
    Role Model: Barack Obama
    Favorite Vacation Destination: That’s a hard one. I would say a tossup between Asheville, NC and New Orleans, LA.
    If you weren’t in graduate school, what would you be doing now? I would probably be working in politics.