Andrea Laurent-Simpson

Research Assistant Professor Lecturer






Ph.D., Sociology, Texas Woman’s University

Laurent-Simpson’s work engages identity theory, family and fertility, and human-nonhuman animal interaction.  Her research uses original, qualitative, mixed methods data to examine how familial identities are impacted by human-nonhuman animal relationships; how household structure affects resulting identity formation; how this contributes to post-modern, cultural definitions of who or what counts as family; and how dropping fertility rates and delays of first birth characteristic of the second demographic transition aid in the emergence of a “multi-species” family post-1970’s in the U.S. A new book with NYU Press, entitled Just Like Family: How the Companion Animal Joined the Household, examines these trends in detail. Her newest project examines “pandemic” pets, family structure and health, and pet owner returns to work and school. Her work is award-winning and has appeared in Symbolic Interaction; Sociological Forum; and Sociological Inquiry

A second project uses a mixed-methods approach to examine emerging infectious diseases, currently COVID-19, via a modern risk society perspective. Trajectories include examining how social media messages impact the social construction of emerging infectious diseases and preventative measures like mask wearing; how socioeconomic status impacts likelihood of following preventative guidelines issued by public health authorities; and how individual risk perceptions and self-reflexivity in modern society influence risky and preventive behavior in the midst of an outbreak. Work from the overall project has been award-winning and appears in Sociology of Health and Illness and Sociological Spectrum.

Canales, Alejandra. “SMU Sociologist’s Research Shows How Pets Have Become Part of the Family.”Dallas Morning News, August 23, 2021. Article here.

“‘Dog Mom’s and More – We’re Living in Multispecies Families Now. Here’s What It Means.” Fox News Digital, July 31, 2021. Article here.

“Is Your Pet Family? SMU Sociologist Says “Multispecies Families” Impact Birth Rate, Job Location, Disasters, and More.” Dallas Innovates, July 13, 2021.


Interviewed for “How America’s Love for Its Cats and Dogs Built the Pet Industrial Complex.” Oliver Staley, Quartz, January 10, 2021.

Research and Teaching Interests

  • Sociological social psychology
  • Identity processes
  • Family and fertility
  • Medical sociology
  • Human-nonhuman animal relationships
  • Qualitative sociology

Selected Publications

  • Laurent-Simpson, Andrea. 2021. Just Like Family: How Companion Animals Joined the Household. New York, New York: New York University Press.
  • Moore, Ami, Andrea Laurent-Simpson, and Sarah Oliphant. 2021. “The Experiences of Foreign-Born Female Academics: A Photo-Elicitation Analysis.” Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity. Early online release.
  • Laurent-Simpson, Andrea and Celia Lo. 2019. “Risk Society Online: Zika Virus, Social Media, and Distrust in the CDC.”  Sociology of Health and Illness. 4(7):1270-1288. DOI: 10.1111/1467-9566.12924
  • Lo, Celia and Andrea Laurent-Simpson. 2018. “How SES May Figure in Perceptions of Zika Risks and in Preventive Action.”  Sociological Spectrum. 38(5):295-311.  DOI: 10.1080/02732173.2018.1502109
  • Laurent-Simpson, Andrea. 2017. “Considering Alternate Sources of Role Identity: Childless Parents and Their Animal ‘Kids.’” Sociological Forum 32(3):610-634. DOI: 10.1111/socf.12351
  • Laurent-Simpson, Andrea. 2017. “‘They Make Me Not Wanna Have a Child’: Effects of Companion Animals on Fertility Intentions of the Childfree.” Sociological Inquiry 87(4):586-607. DOI: 10.1111/soin.12163
  • Laurent-Simpson, Andrea. 2017. “‘Phil’s Calling Grandma…’: External Support and Parent Identity Related to Nonhuman Animals.” Symbolic Interaction 40(2):212-228. DOI: 10.1002/symb.281


  • SMU Willis M. Tate Award. 2021.
  • Sam Taylor Fellowship. United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. 2021.
  • SMU Honoring Our Professors of Excellence Award nominee. 2020.
  • Distinguished Scholarship Award, American Sociological Association’s Section on Animals and Society. 2019.
  • Sam Taylor Fellowship. United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.  2019.
  • Sociological Spectrum Best Paper of the Year Award for “How SES May Figure in Perceptions of Zika
  • Risks and in Preventive Action.”  2018.
  • Herbert Blumer Graduate Student Award,Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction. 2017.
  • Jane Goodall Award for Distinguished Graduate Student Scholarship,American Sociological Association’s Section on Animals and Society. 2016.
  • Outstanding Sociology Doctoral Student Award,Texas Woman’s University, Department of Sociology. 2016.
  • TWU Graduate Student Scholarship,Texas Woman’s University.2013-2016.
  • Dean’s Distinguished Fellowship,University of California, Riverside. 2002-2004.


andrea laurent Simpson