The NSRN Online team are responsible for everything that appears on this website. Each member of the team is at various stages of their research, and all have distinct roles within NSRN Online. For information on those involved in the day-to-day running and overall vision of the NSRN as a whole, please see the NSRN Directors page.
Press queries should be directed to Lois or to any of the NSRN directors. For email addresses, please follow the hyperlinks at each person’s name.
Lois Lee (Sociology, University of Cambridge, UK)
Lois is responsible for the general overseeing of the website and responding to press enquiries.
Lois is Blackham Fellow for 2011-2012 and a Visiting Fellow at Centre for Urban and Community Research, Goldsmiths College University of London. Her work deals with theories of thought and action in differentiated and highly mediated societies, and her empirical research has focused on British nonreligious and secularist cultures. She is completing her doctoral thesis at the University of Cambridge and is currently developing the thesis into a monograph, provisionally titled, Separating Sociologies: Religion, Nonreligion and Secularity in Society and Social Research. She is guest coeditor of a special issue of Journal of Contemporary Religion, entitled ’Nonreligion and Secularity: New Empirical Perspectives’, with Stephen Bullivant (January 2012). She has publications in (or forthcoming in) the Annual Review of Sociology of Religion, Journal of Contemporary Religion, Studies in Ethnicity & Nationalism andCritique and Humanism, and will contribute to the forthcoming Oxford Handbook to Atheism (2013).
Lois is founding director of the NSRN, the editor of its website, co-editor of the journal Secularism and Nonreligion (NSRN and ISSSC), and features editor for the LSE-based journal, Studies in Ethnicity & Nationalism (Wiley-Blackwell). She lectures and teaches the study of religion (and nonreligion), sociology of religion, social theory of modernity, introduction to sociology, and qualitative social research methods.
Christopher R. Cotter (Religious Studies, Lancaster University, UK)
Chris is responsible for the general overseeing and maintenance of website and maintains the NSRN Bibliography.
Chris recently completed his MSc by Research in Religious Studies at the University of Edinburgh, on the topic ‘Toward a Typology of Nonreligion: A Qualitative Analysis of Everyday Narratives of Scottish University Students’. His publications and research have centred on contemporary atheism and include an article in the International Journal for the Study of New Religions entitled ‘Consciousness Raising: The Critique, Agenda and Inherent Precariousness of Contemporary Anglophone Atheism‘. His AHRC-funded research at Lancaster University (commencing October 2012) will continue to expand the theme of ‘non-religion’ to apply to ‘everyone’, simultaneously deconstructing the religion-nonreligion dichotomy in the process. He is founding editor and podcast co-host at The Religious Studies Project, and currently editing the volume ‘Social Identities between the Sacred and the Secular’ with Abby Day and Giselle Vincett (Ashgate, 2013). See his personal blog, or academia.edu page for a full CV.
Katie Aston (Anthropology, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK)
In 2006 Katie completed her BA (hons) in fine at Wimbledon School of Art in 2006. She went on to complete her Masters in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths University, with a dissertation investigating gender performance within contemporary Stand Up comedy in London. Building on a pilot study of the Atheist Bus Campaign, Katie is currently undertaking an ethnographic study of non-religious value construction and material cultures. She is looking specifically at rationalism and the role Christian heritage within non-religious individuals and organisation under the Supervision of Dr. Emma Tarlo and Dr. David Graeber. This study draws on aspects of visual culture within a rationalist organisation and from studies of Humanist ceremonies, taking a broad historical perspective from the Freethought archives of Bishopsgate Institute. She has also worked on the Moroccan Memories Oral History Project and in an educational and front of house capacity at the Tate Gallery in London.
Anna Hennessey (Philosophy, California State University, Fresno, USA)
Anna is responsible for the NSRN Events Reports, and is more than willing to hear suggestions on events we should be covering, or from volunteers to help with their production.
She currently teaches in the Philosophy Department at California State University, Fresno, and has an academic background in Religious Studies (PhD, UC Santa Barbara), Art History (MA, UC Santa Barbara), Philosophy (BA, New York University) and Language (Chinese, French, Italian, Spanish). She has received numerous academic awards and fellowships, and has published journal articles, book reviews, encyclopedia entries, theses material, and website content. For more details or a full CV, see her profile on academia.edu or Linkedin.
Bethany Tamara Heywood (Psychology, Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland)
Bethany is responsible for the production and maintenance of the NSRN Events Publications.
She majored in Religion as an undergraduate at UVM, and went on to obtain a PhD in Cognitive Science from the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen’s University Belfast. She currently teaches in the Psychology Department at Keene State College, as well as the Anthropology Department for Ashford University.
Jonathan Jong (Anthropology, University of Oxford, UK)
Jonathan is responsible for maintaining the lists of current researchers and postgraduate researchers in the NSRN Research Directories. If you think you should be listed, or know of others who have been omitted please do get in touch.
He is the Research Co-ordinator for the Ritual, Community, and Conflict project at the Centre for Anthropology and Mind, University of Oxford. Prior to this, he completed his PhD. in experimental psychology and philosophy of religion at the University of Otago, New Zealand, with a thesis entitled “Scaring the bejesus into people: the effects of mortality salience on explicit and implicit religious belief”. His research interests include the effects of ritual participation on social behaviour, the role of existential anxieties and cognitive biases in religious belief, the measurement of religious belief, and the philosophical relationship between naturalism and theism.
Lorna Mumford (Anthropology, University College London, UK)
Lorna has just joined the NSRN Online Team and is working on a number of exciting developments for the website – watch this space!
Lorna completed her BA (hons) in Ancient History and Social Anthropology at University College London in 2009. After a year away from academia she was awarded ESRC 1+3 funding and returned to UCL completing an MRes in Social Anthropology in 2011. Her dissertation, entitled ‘Living Nonreligious Identity in Britain: Experience, Emotion and Meaning’, analysed the significance of emotional responses to specific life events in nonreligious people’s accounts of their decision to reject a former religious identity, or to publicly assert their atheist position for the first time. Lorna’s PhD research is an ethnographic exploration of nonreligious value systems and notions of morality. Working within atheist, humanist and ex-Muslim ‘meetup’ groups in London her aim is to develop a better understanding of what nonreligious people mean when they talk of ‘living a good life without God’. For more information and a full CV see her profile page on academia.edu.
Jesper Petersen (Religious Studies and Teacher Education, NTNU, Norway)
Jesper is responsible for maintaining the NSRN’s dynamic directory of Resources for teachers and students of Nonreligion and Secularity. If you are aware of any omissions please do get in touch.
Jesper Petersen recently defended his PhD thesis on modern Satanism entitled ‘Between Darwin and the Devil: Modern Satanism as Discourse, Milieu, and Self’, putting a provisional end to years of studying religious and non-religious Satanists. He is currently an associate professor at the Programme for Teacher Education, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway, concentrating on social science and religious studies related to education, non-religion and alternative currents. He has published extensively on Satanism and controversial religions, but his research interests include religion and science, non-religion and secularity, religion and popular culture, and the interface between education, methodology and theory. For a list of publications, see Christin; for contact, see academia.edu.
Per Smith (Religious Studies, Boston University, USA)
Per is responsible for producing and maintaining our Conference Guides, which distill the nonreligion and secularity related presentations at larger disciplinary and thematic conferences into a handy guide for those planning to attend.
Per Smith has a BA in Religion and Culture from Georgetown University and is currently finishing his PhD in the Religion and Society track of Boston University’s Division of Religious and Theological Studies. He focuses on religious disaffiliation in the United States, particularly in relation to how secular Americans tackle some of life’s most “meaningful” moments. His dissertation looks at an emerging client-based tradition of institutionally non-religious life-cycle ceremonies known as civil celebrancy.
Per is also the co-chair of the Secularism and Secularity group of the American Academy of Religion, an assistant editor of the journal, Secularism and Nonreligion, and a blogger. If you want to know more about his academic interests try his blog, irritually, or read his piece in The New Humanism, “Spitting with the Wind: The Sociology of Irreligion and Ritual.”