Dr. Laura Colmenero-Chilberg, assistant professor of sociology at Black Hills State University, was recently elected South Dakota director for the Midwest Sociological Society (MSS). She began her tenure as state director and member of the board of directors at the annual MSS conference in Chicago.

At the conference, Colmenero-Chilberg also presented her paper “’Reading’ Gender Power in Popular Fiction.”

Colmenero-Chilberg will serve as state director and board member through 2010, and during that time, she says her goal is to increase the number of South Dakota faculty, applied sociologists, graduate students, and undergraduate students who join and participate in the organization, including presenting their work at the society’s annual conferences.

According to Colmenero-Chilberg, plans are already being made to take BHSU sociology and human services majors to next year’s conference in St. Louis to showcase their research and provide them with an opportunity to interact with professional sociologists as well as to investigate the many graduate programs that are represented at the conference.

“The Sociology and Human Services Club as well as Alpha Kappa Delta, the sociology honor society, have been investigating ways to raise funds for the conference,” Colmenero-Chilberg said. “I am also planning to reach out to South Dakota high school sociology teachers to investigate how we can better serve their needs.”

The MSS is the largest regional sociology professional organization and has drawn many excellent scholars from around the world, including well-known sociologists Howard Becker and Patti and Peter Adler. It produces The Sociological Quarterly, published by Blackwell Press.

Colmenero-Chilberg received her M.A. in English from Pittsburg State University and her Ph.D. in sociology from South Dakota State University. She has been a member of the BHSU faculty since 2005.