Richelle L. Winkler

Richelle L. Winkler


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Assistant Professor of Sociology and Demography, Social Sciences

  • PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2010
  • MS, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004
  • BA, University of South Carolina, 1999


My research aims to understand and promote rural community sustainability. Most of my work examines population change as both a cause and a consequence of community well-being, and I am particularly interested in the relationships between population, environment, and community well-being. I employ both quantitative and qualitative research methods to answer social science questions related to human interactions with the natural world.

The research projects I engage with tend to be either demographic in nature or to focus on community and environmental sociology or both. For example, my research team recently released a dataset of net migration by age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin for every county in the U.S. 2000-2010. The data can be downloaded from a public website that allows for interactive mapping and chart-making. See The data inform local and regional planning efforts and provide applied demographers with necessary data for generating small area population estimates and projections. Another demographic project I'm working on involves analyzing how numbers of hunters and anglers are changing over time and how they will change in the future with important implications for conservation policy.

Other projects are more community-based, including my dissertation work which involved a community-based participatory research project with the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation and a group of lower income younger adults in central Minnesota and studied how the context of living in a tourism and retirement focused lakes destination area affects the well-being of lower income people and younger adults. I am very interested in community based work, collaborating with communities on sustainability oriented projects, and service learning. My Communities and Research course includes a community-based research project in collaboration with Main Street Calumet (a community organization), and my Introduction to Sociology course includes a community-based project with Copper Country Mental Health.

In my personal life, I love hiking in the woods with my kids and my Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, brewing beer with my husband, playing and coaching volleyball, cross country skiing, canoeing, and watching sports (especially Badger football and basketball).

Areas of Expertise

  • Rural Sociology
  • Population and Environment
  • Environmental Sociology
  • Community Engaged Scholarship
  • Internal Migration
  • GIS and spatial analysis

Recent Publications

  • Winkler, Richelle. 2013. “Living on lakes: Segregated communities and social exclusion in a natural amenity destination.” The Sociological Quarterly 54 (1): 105-129. Read More
  • Winkler, Richelle, Schewe, Rebecca and David Matarrita-Cascante. 2013. “Lakes and community: The importance of natural landscapes in social research.” Society and Natural Resources 26 (2): 158-175. Read More
  • Winkler, Richelle and Keith Warnke. 2012. “The future of hunting: An age-period-cohort analysis of deer hunter decline.” Population and Environment. Published online 4/21/2012. Read More
  • Richelle Winkler & Rozalynn Klaas (2012): Residential segregation by age in the United States, Journal of Maps, DOI:10.1080/17445647.2012.739099 Read More
  • Winkler, Richelle, Shaun Golding and Cheng Cheng. 2011. “Boom or bust? How migration impacts population composition in different types of natural resource dependent communities in the rural US.” In L. Kulcsar and K. Curtis (eds.), International Handbook of Rural Demography. The Springer Series on Demographic Methods and Population Analysis. New York: Springer. Read More
  • Winkler, Richelle. 2009. “Social capital and concerns facing lower income young adults in the Brainerd Lakes area.” (Community Engaged Scholarship). 11/10/2009. ID#ML6SYW4F. Read More
  • Winkler, Richelle L., Donald R. Field, Richard S. Krannich, A.E. Luloff, and Tracy Williams. 2007. “Social landscapes of the Inter-Mountain West: A comparison of ‘Old West’ and ‘New West’ communities.” Rural Sociology 72 (3): 478-501. Read More

Recent Funding

  • Age Specific Net Migration Estimates for US Counties: NIH/NICHD
  • Recreational Homes, Gateway Communities, and Rural Development: North Central Regional Center for Rural Development
  • County-Level Net Migration Estimates, 2000-2010: USDA Economic Research Service Cooperative Agreement


  • “The Demographic State of our Society: Implications for Wildlife Conservation and Management.” Keynote address at the Organization of Wildlife Planners annual meeting. Breckenridge, CO, Sept. 23, 2012.
  • “Lakes and Community: The importance of natural landscapes in social research” (with Rebecca Schewe and David Matarrita-Cascante). Rural Sociological Society Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL, July 29, 2012.
  • “Segregated by Age: Are we becoming more divided?” (with Rozalynn Klaas). Population Association of America Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA, May 2012.
  • “Deer Hunters in 20 Years: How many will there be and who wants more?” (with Keith Warnke). Joint Meeting of the Wildlife Society and the Wisconsin Society of American Foresters. Wisconsin Dells, WI. March 3, 2011.

Research Projects

  • Age Specific Net Migration Estimates for US Counties
  • Community-Based Participatory Research with Main Street Calumet
  • Salt+SODIS: Investigating its potential applicability to provide drinking water in Africa
  • Residential Segregation by Age
  • Hunter Demographics: Age-Period-Cohort analysis of the hunting population with implications for wildlife conservation and management
  • Climate Change and Patterns of Internal Migration in the US

Teaching Experience

  • SS2700 – Introduction to Sociology Read More
  • SS5400 – Sociology of the Environment
  • SS3315/SS5315 – Population and Environment
  • Communities and Research Read More
  • SS3750 – Social Inequality