Cheryl Laz PhD

Associate Professor

Office Location

301B Payson Smith Hall, Portland Campus


(207) 780-4101

Academic Degrees

  • PhD in Sociology, SUNY-Stony Brook, 1991
  • MA in Sociology, SUNY-Stony Brook, 1987
  • BA in English and Sociology, Hartwick College, 1984



Dr. Laz has been in the Sociology program at USM since 1991. She serves on the Women and Gender Studies and Food Studies Councils.

Professor Laz teaches several of the required courses in the Sociology major, including SOC 100: Introduction to Sociology, SOC 210: Critical Thinking about Social Issues, and SOC 300: Sociological Theory. In addition, she regularly teaches two courses in Sociology that are part of the Women and Gender Studies curriculum--SOC 316: Sociology of Gender and SOC 358: Sociology of Women’s Work, and a Food Studies course, FSP 320/620: Poverty and Hunger. Professor Laz also teaches an interdisciplinary first-year course called The Chicken Course, with Professor Rob Sanford (Enviromental Science and Policy). 

Her current research focuses on broadly on systems of food and agriculture. She is particularly interested in alternatives to the dominant, industrialized food system. One project involves interviewing folks who participate in and create such alternatives to understand the motivations for these choices; alternative food practices, organizations, institutions, and networks; obstacles to eating outside of the dominant system; and the implications of alternatives for social movements and social change. A second project focuses on the gendered dimensions eating locally and sustainably.

Professor Laz's previous research and publications examine the social construction of age. In "Act Your Age," (Sociological Forum, 1998) she argues that age can be understood as "accomplished," that is a process and the outcome of ongoing interactional work. In a second article, "Age Embodied," (Journal of Aging Studies, 2003), she theorizes age and embodiment as mutually constituting accomplishments. Interviews with adults over 50 uncover multiple dimensions of embodiment that respondents draw on as they consider what it means to be both embodied and aged (i.e. having an age).

When she's not at USM, you might find her in the garden, the woods, or in a kayak.