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Sociology Professor Recognized with Esteemed Reeder Award

By Liz Waldie

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February 21, 2022

Susan E. Bell, professor of sociology, Drexel University College of Arts and Sciences

Professor of Sociology Susan E. Bell, PhD, is the 2022 recipient of the prestigious Leo G. Reeder Award, the highest honor presented by the American Sociology Association’s (ASA) Medical Sociology section. The award recognizes the lifetime achievements of sociologists who have significantly advanced the field through innovative research, mentoring and service to the medical sociology community.

Bell’s colleagues cited her innovative research in and countless foundational contributions to the field of medical sociology in their nomination materials. Over the years, Bell’s work has incorporated original approaches to the field, such as narrative analysis and visual methodologies.

“I am thrilled and humbled by the Leo G. Reeder Award,” Bell said. “It is such an honor to be joining a list of awardees that includes my dissertation chair, mentor and dear friend Irving Kenneth Zola [of Brandeis University] and other luminaries for whom—and for whose work—I have profound respect. I am especially gratified by the statements from my professional peers, former students and mentees in their letters of nomination and support.”

Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Sociology Kelly Joyce, PhD, was among those who nominated Bell. “Her research program has changed the way we do medical sociology multiple times,” Joyce said.

Bell’s early work analyzed women’s health. More recently—yet well before the COVID-19 pandemic—she tackled the narrow scope of U.S. medical sociologists by challenging them to take a broader perspective and investigate health and illness in a global context. Her current work furthers this topic by focusing on interpreters in healthcare settings and will eventually result in a book, Permeable Hospitals, Transnational Communities: A Global Hospital.

In addition to her impressive research achievements, Bell has also fostered lasting, decades-long relationships with her colleagues and students. In her letter of nomination, Lauren Wise, one of Bell’s former students, wrote, “I believe a good mentor is one who remains in touch with one’s mentees over the longer term. That is exactly what Professor Bell has done for me.” Many others also spoke of Bell’s positive influence on their careers, as well as her constant support and advice.

National recognition of a colleague for their impact on an entire field also reflects on their department. Drexel’s Department of Sociology includes a medical sociology track in its undergraduate curriculum and several faculty members in the field.

“The award puts our sociology department on the map as the place to study cutting-edge medical sociology,” Joyce said. “Susan's remarkable research and teaching demonstrate the high caliber of the department.”