Julie N. Zimmerman

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  • Dr. and Mrs. C. Milton Coughenour Professor of Rural Sociology
  • Appalachian Center
  • Sociology
707 Garrigus Building, College of Agriculture Food and Environment, Community and Leadership Development
(859) 257-7583
  • Other Affiliations:
Research Interests:

Ph.D. Cornell University


My Research has both an academic and an applied focus.  An important aspect of my research has been on early rural sociology and its relationship to American sociology and in the USDA.  In particular, my interest focuses on how knowledge is socially constructed and historically situated.  My book, Opening Windows onto Hidden Lives (with co-author Olaf Larson) explores the unexpected inclusion of rural and farm women in research conducted by the USDA's Division of Farm Population and Rural Life (1919-1953).  Other projects include the book chapter "I Could Tell Stories 'til the Cows come Home: Individual Biography meets Collective Biograpy" in Johannes Hans Bakker (ed) Rural Sociologists at Work.  I also recently completed a book on the centennial history of the first Department of Rural Sociology in the nation. 

In addition to academic research, I conduct research with an applied emphasis.  Recent projects include Rural Data Inequality and the American Community Survey (w/ Dr. Tony Love) and the 2018 Rural Price Project which is a restudy of the 2006 Rural Price Project and examines rural/urban differences in the cost of living (w/ Dr. Karen Rignall).

The applied side of my work includes working with Cooperative Extension where I focus on publicly available secondary data and enhancing skills in using data for local decision making.  My Extension program, Kentucky: By The Numbers includes resources for accessing and using online secondary data, web access to resources and commonly used data, skill based training, and custom data analyses/direct assistance.  Multi-source data profiles for each of Kentucky's 120 counties include a multipart data series on race and ethnicity across Kentucky, groups at risk for severe illness from COVID-19, county profiles for the Extension Statewide Community Assessment, Supprting Families at Risk, and Eastern Kentucky: By The Numbers for the UK Appalachian Center.


Selected Books:

Zimmerman, Julie N. 2020. A Century of Scholarship and Service: 100 Years of Rural and Development Sociology at Cornell. Internet First University Press. Ithaca, NY. https://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/69967

Zimmerman, Julie N. and Olaf F. Larson. 2010. Opening Hidden Windows onto Hidden Lives: Women, Country Life, and Early Rural Sociological Research. Rural Sociological Society Rural Studies Series. Penn State University Press. Nominated for Distinguished Scholarly Publication, History of Sociology Section, American Sociological Association.

Selected Chapters:

Zimmerman, Julie N. 2015. "I Could Tell Stories 'til the Cows Come Home: Individual Biography meets Collective Biography." in J. I. (Hans) Bakker (ed.) Rural Sociologists at Work: Candid Accounts of Theory, Methods, and Practice. Routledge.

Selected Articles:

Julia M. Miller*, Julie N. Zimmerman, Kathryn Engle, and Cameron McAlister*. Forthcoming 2021. “Meals in Mountains: Examining Longitudinal Changes in Rural/Urban Food Prices.” Journal of Appalachian Studies.

Zimmerman, Julie N. 2013. "An Unexpected Legacy: Women, Early Rural Sociological Research, and the Limits of Linearity." Journal of Rural Social Sciences 28(3):32-59.

Zimmerman, Julie N. 2010. "Mediated Knowledge: Re-Examining Six Classic Community Studies from a Woman's Point of View." Rural Sociology 76(2):141-166.

Zimmerman, Julie N. 2008. "Voices from the Past, Lessons for the Future: Learning from the History of Sociology in Government." Equal Opportunities International (Now: Equality Diversity and Inclusion - An International Journal) 27(2):132-147.


Selected Recent Presentations: (*=Graduate Student)

Zimmerman, Julie N., Karen Rignall and Cameron McAlister*. 2020. “Does it Really Cost Less to Live in a Rural Area? Evidence from Kentucky.” Presentation at the Southern Rural Sociological Association annual conference. Louisville, KY. January, 2020.

Engle, ​Kathryn, Julia Miller*, Julie N. Zimmerman, and Cameron McAlister*. 2019. “Meals in the Mountains: Examining Longitudinal Changes in Rural/Urban Food Prices.” Poster at Appalachian Research Day. University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health. Hazard, KY. September 19, 2019.

Zimmerman, Julie N., Karen Rignall and Cameron McAlister*. 2019. “Understanding the Rural/Urban Divide Through the Content and Cost of Living.” Presentation at Rural Sociological Society Annual Meeting. Richmond, VA. Aug 7-10, 2019.

Vance, Leah* and Julie N. Zimmerman. 2019. “Building an Understanding of Rural First-Generation Graduate Students.” Presentation at Rural Sociological Society Annual Meeting. Richmond, VA. Aug 7-10, 2019.

Stone, Morgan* and Julie N. Zimmerman. 2019. “Increasing Reclaiming Forgotten Connections.” Poster at Rural Sociological Society Annual Meeting. Richmond, VA. Aug 7-10, 2019. Awarded Honorable Mention.

Alexander, Erin * and Julie N. Zimmerman. 2019. “Increasing Rural Sociology’s Web Presence: Charles J. Galpin.” Poster at Rural Sociological Society Annual Meeting. Richmond, VA. Aug 7-10, 2019.

Zimmerman, Julie N. 2015. “Development (Rural) Sociology: 100 Years of Scholarship at Cornell.” Opening Keynote for Centennial Celebration. Cornell University. Ithaca, NY. 25 September 2015.

Zimmerman, Julie N. 2008. “Neuter or Nurture: Rural Sociology’s Engagement with Public Sociology.”  Presidential Thematic Session.  2008 Rural Sociological Society Annual Meeting.  Manchester, NH. July, 2008.

Selected Extension Presentations:

“COVID-19 Groups at Risk for Serious Illness: A Look at Kentucky.” Webinar. Kentucky Cooperative Extension. May 6, 2020.

“Limited English Proficiency Households and Populations in Kentucky.” New Agent Training.  Presented with Nancy Calix. Kentucky Cooperative Extension. Jan 21, 2020.

“Evaluation and Data.”  4H Youth Development Institute. Kentucky Cooperative Extension. Clark County Extension Office. May 10-11, 2018.

“Who Gets What and Where -- What Does Inequality Mean for Extension?” District 7 Extension Leadership Forum. October 24, 2017.

Selected Classroom Presentations:

“The Sociologist Perspective: Sustainable Rural Livelihoods and Social Equity.” DHN 605. Food Systems and Society.

"Lag Behind or Left Behind? Rural Challenges in a 21st Century World." GEN 100 Issues in Agriculture, Food and Environment.

“Finding and Using Publicly Available Secondary Data in Program Development and Evaluation.” CLD 665 Program Development and Evaluation.  

“Research Secrets and Secondary Data.” CLD 686 Research Design.

 “Finding and Using Data in Situation Analyses and Communication Campaigns.” CLD 400 Agricultural Communications Campaigns. 

“Demographics of Students in Kentucky.” AED 583 Curriculum Design and Assessment. 






Applied and Public Sociology

The Appalachian Voice. "High Stakes for Appalachia in the 2020 Census."  http://appvoices.org/2020/02/25/high-stakes-for-appalachia-in-the-2020-census/

NPR. "Women's Work Is Never Done On The Farm, And Sometimes Never Counted" https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/12/11/369902748/womens-work-is-never-done-on-the-farm-and-sometimes-never-counted

Kentucky Standard. " ‘Silver tsunami’ predicted to hit Nelson in 2030." https://www.kystandard.com/content/%E2%80%98silver-tsunami%E2%80%99-predicted-hit-nelson-2030

Kentucky New Era. "Survey takers say jobs, effective law enforcement are important." https://www.kentuckynewera.com/news/article_7da715fe-a69c-5fbf-a7a8-80cbaa6dc24c.html