GRADUCon 2021 - Careers in Qualitative Research


Are you curious about bringing your qualitative research skills to an industry or non-profit position? This panel will introduce careers that draw on qualitative research skills, such as audience and market research, social impact program design, and public relations. Panelists will discuss their roles and provide practical advice for graduate students interested in qualitative research careers.


Lindsay Knight, Leader, Community Engagement and Strategic Initiatives, Specialized Bicycle Components (PhD, Political Science and Government, University of Chicago, 2015)

Lindsay is an applied social impact geek with ten years of on-the-ground expertise in youth and community engagement strategy; applied research; program design, scaling, and evaluations, and spends most days figuring out how to design and embed equity practices within organizational structures. She has a PhD in Political Science from the University of Chicago, with an area focus on civic responsibility, institutional change, and research methodologies. Lindsay is a mentor in the Institute of Politics’ Women in Public Service program, and serves on the advisory boards for SXSWedu and Future Founders. Her work has been recognized with awards and fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, the Marguerite Casey Foundation, and the United Nations – Chicago for achievements in “Innovation, Industry, and Infrastructure” in social development. In her ample spare time, she also races cyclocross, gravel, and mountain bikes for Ten Speed Hero. Her advocacy for access and equity in cycling have been featured in Cycling Tips, Cyclocross Magazine, Bicycling, and Chicago Athlete.

Josephine Lippincott, Senior Research Associate, Marathon Strategies LLC (MA, Middle Eastern Studies, University of Chicago, 2018)

Josephine is a senior research associate at Marathon Strategies. She received her MA from the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (Class of ’18) and her research focused on the dynamics of insurgent groups in Syria. She previously worked as a research assistant for the Arab Studies Institute.

Cassidy Welter, Senior Associate, Research and Consulting (MA, Religious Studies, University of Chicago, 2016)

Based in Chicago, Cassidy Welter has over five years experience in research, consumer insights, and brand strategy. Having received her Masters with a focus in human rights and ethics from the University of Chicago, she was previously a research Fellow with the U.S. Departments of State and Education where she researched human rights in Latin America. She is passionate about working with and deeply understanding global consumers, and her consumer and target illumination capabilities allow her to maintain this global focus, and to help brands develop strategies that are nuanced and adaptive.

Julio Rivera, Director of Research Operations, Yaqeen Institute (PhD, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago, 2018)

For over fifteen years, Julio Rivera has developed regional expertise on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Islamic Studies across a range of disciplines in both an academic and professional capacity. His studies and work have brought him to the region on multiple occasions and sharpened his understanding of the region’s interconnected challenges, the role of religion, local nuances, and their impact globally. While working as a Political Analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense, Rivera tracked daily and long-term political and military trends in Syria and briefed senior U.S. military and allied officials including four star generals. He also participated in the development of U.S. military contingency operations and crisis management during the Syrian conflict. Rivera’s work analyzing the crisis in Syria inspired him to pursue graduate studies at the University of Chicago where he completed a PhD in Islamic History and Islamic Political Thought. During this time, Rivera also leveraged his expertise to enhance interdisciplinary research on counterterrorism studies at the Chicago Project on Security and Threats. In his current role at the Yaqeen Institute, Rivera brings his expertise on the Islamic world and applied research to maintain the quality of Yaqeen’s research focused on understanding the causes of doubt, what nurtures conviction and inspires contribution in the hearts of Muslims in the U.S. and worldwide.


Sarah Fredericks, Associate Professor of Environmental Ethics and Director of Doctoral Studies, Divinity School, University of Chicago (PhD, Division of Religious and Theological Studies, Boston University, 2008)

Professor Fredericks’ research focuses on sustainability, sustainable energy, environmental guilt and shame, and environmental justice; her work draws upon pragmatic and comparative religious ethics. She is the author of Measuring and Evaluating Sustainability: Ethics in Sustainability Indexes (Routledge, 2013), and articles in Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture; International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology; Environmental Justice, and Ethics, Policy, and Environment. Fredericks co-edits a book series, Religious Ethics and Environmental Challenges (Lexington Press), with Kevin O’Brien. Fredericks, along with colleagues from three other universities, was recently awarded a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded Humanities Without Walls, a consortium that funds cross-institutional teams researching topics in the humanities. Prof. Fredericks’ project, “Being Human in the Age of Humans: Perspectives from Religion and Ethics,” seeks to better understand the impact of climate change from a humanities perspective.Professor Fredericks is currently working on a book, Environmental Guilt and Shame, about the ethical dimensions of experiencing and inducing environmental guilt and shame, particularly about climate change. It will be published by Oxford in summer 2021.