Richelle L. Winkler

Richelle L. Winkler


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  • Associate 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


I am a multidisciplinary scholar operating at the intersections of sociology, demography, geography, community development, and applied social science.  My research is focused on spatial inequality, including patterns of residential segregation and distributions of social and environmental resources. My primary topic of study has been rural communities and especially relationships between community development, internal migration, and resource distribution. A key professional goal is that my scholarship will help to understand and promote rural community sustainability.

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 created 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 to show patterns each decade back to the 1950s. See  Colleagues and I have since analyzed these data to understand how net migration by age and race have contributed to racial segregation over time (see Moving toward Integration?) and to understand how patterns of migration vary across different types of rural communities

Another set of my scholarship investigates how cohort effects contribute to changing patterns of hunter and angler participation over time and across space. This has critical implications for conservation policy, given that license sales and excise taxes are primary funding mechanisms and hunting and fishing are key ways that people engage with the natural world. This work has been supported by state departments of natural resources and by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission

I am very interested in community engaged scholarship in collaboration with communities on projects related to social and environmental sustainability. This work has motivated my developing interest in just energy transitions in rural communities- what are the challenges and opportunities for rural communities to transition to more sustainable energy sources and infrastructure that supports inclusive rural community development? I was involved in the creation of the Houghton county Energy Efficiency Team (HEET), and recent academic work combines my demographic expertise with emerging solar technologies to explore the economic feasibility for residents of Michigan's Upper Peninsula to get off the grid with solar-hybrid systems. A new collaborative project is investigating the feasibility of developing a community solar system in L'anse, MI. In another example, I've been working on a long-term partnership with Main Street Calumet to understand topics ranging from how the community's First Friday art tours impact community development to exploring the feasibility of tapping into minewater for geothermal energy. My Communities and Research course (SS 4700) engages in these projects, and collaborative reports written by students and community members are available here for public download

In my personal life, I love hiking, playing and coaching volleyball, cross country skiing, canoeing, and watching sports (especially Badger basketball).

Areas of Expertise

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

Recent Publications

  • Moving to Diversity Read More
  • Moving toward Integration? Effects of Migration on Ethnoracial Segregation across the Rural-Urban Continuum Read More
  • How Migration Impacts Rural America Read More
  • Emerging economic viability of grid defection in a northern climate using solar hybrid systems Read More
  • Boom, bust and beyond: Arts and sustainability in Calumet, Michigan Read More
  • Migration signatures: Net migration by age and race/ethnicity in U.S. counties, 1950-2010 Read More
  • 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 and Keith Warnke. 2013. “The future of hunting: An age-period-cohort analysis of deer hunter decline.” Population and Environment 34(4): 460-480 Read More
  • Desmond, M. W. An, R. Winkler, and T. Ferriss. 2013. "Evicting Children." Social Forces 92 (1): 303-327. 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
  • Amenity migration in the new global economy: Current issues and research priorities Read More
  • Winkler, R. 2013. "Research Note: Segregated by Age: Are we becoming more divided?" Population Research and Policy Review 32(5): 717-727. 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
  • Recreational housing and community development: A triple bottom line approach 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

  • Angler Demographics: An Age-Period-Cohort Analysis. Great Lakes Fishery Commission. March 2015 to December 2017.
  • Longitudinal Analysis of Population Redistribution by County Type and in Relation to National Forest and Public Lands. USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, Joint Venture Agreement. Resource Planning Act.
  • Geographic Analysis of Age-Period-Cohort Dimensions in Michigan Deer Hunter Participation. Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
  • Developing a Community Guide to Harnessing Geothermal Energy from Minewater. Environmental Protection Agency, P3 program for People, Prosperity, and Planet. Phase 1 award.
  • Contextualizing Family Food Decisions: The Role of Household Characteristics, Neighborhood Deprivation, and Local Food Environments. Co-Investigator. University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research and USDA Economic Research Service.
  • Age Specific Net Migration Estimates for US Counties. National Institutes of Health/NICHD
  • Self-Regulated Forest Sustainability: A Simulation and Sociological Analysis of Voluntary Incentive Programs. Co-investigator. NSF Division of Social and Economic Sciences, Law and Social Sciences Program.

Research Projects

  • Residential Segregation by Age and Race/Ethnicity
  • Hunter and Angler Demographics: Age-Period-Cohort analysis of participation rates and projections of future participation with implications for wildlife conservation and management
  • Climate Change and Patterns of Internal Migration in the US
  • Just Energy Transitions in Rural Communities
  • Community-Based Participatory Research with Main Street Calumet
  • Age Specific Net Migration Estimates for US Counties

Teaching Experience

  • SS2700 – Introduction to Sociology
  • SS5400 – Sociology of the Environment
  • SS3315/SS5315 – Population and Environment
  • SS 4700: Communities and Research
  • SS 2001- Introduction to Social Science Research