Photo of Stephen Merino

Stephen Merino

Assistant Professor of Sociology

Contact Information

Lowell Heiny Hall 403



PhD, Pennsylvania State University

MA, Pennsylvania State University

MS, University of Michigan

BS, Brigham Young University



Stephen Merino, PhD, received a Bachelor of Science from Brigham Young University and a Master of Science from the University of Michigan, both in neuroscience. While at Michigan, Merino found himself increasingly drawn toward sociological questions about society and human behavior, particularly those centering on race and religion. He made the disciplinary leap at Penn State University, where he received a Master of Arts and PhD in sociology. 

As an assistant professor of sociology, Merino teaches General Sociology, Race and Ethnic Relations, Social Inequality, Sociology of Religion, Self and Society, Research Methods and Environmental Sociology. He also serves as an advisor to the Sociology Club.

Broadly speaking, in his research, he studies how religion and race shape people’s experiences with and reactions to their social environments. Much of his work has examined religious influences on social attitudes and responses to religious and racial diversity. His recent work has focused on Americans’ social networks. Using national survey data, this research examines things like the role of religious social ties in volunteer recruitment, the influence of close friends and family members on individuals’ same-sex marriage attitudes, and the role of religion in the provision of social support. His most recent publication examines religious influences on gun control attitudes in the United States.

Merino grew up in the Denver area before undergraduate and graduate studies took him away from his home state, along with four years of teaching in south Texas after finishing his PhD. A lifelong Broncos and Rockies fan, sci-fi and fantasy nerd, mountain biker, backpacker and lover of the outdoors, he is thrilled to be back in Colorado and teaching at CMU. 

As a teacher, Merino seeks to provide students with the concepts, tools and confidence to view the social world and their experiences in it from a sociological perspective. His classroom approach is guided by the belief that through dialogue our ideas are challenged, expanded and refined. He strives to design coursework and assignments that challenge students, stress sociological methods and make course content relevant to their lives. Moreover, he seeks to help students be stronger writers, more well-rounded citizens, and active, critical consumers of sociological research. When the course ends, he wants students to take with them a portable, scientific, yet empathetic approach to understanding social issues.

Curriculum Vitae

Selected Publications

Merino, Stephen M. 2014. “Social Support and the Religious Dimensions of Close Ties.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 53:595-612.

Merino, Stephen M. 2013. “Religious Social Networks and Volunteering: Examining Recruitment via Close Ties.” Review of Religious Research 55:509-527.

Merino, Stephen M. 2013. “Contact with Gays and Lesbians and Same-Sex Marriage Support: The Moderating Role of Social Context.” Social Science Research 42:1156-1166.

Merino, Stephen M. 2012. “Irreligious Socialization? The Adult Religious Preferences of Individuals Raised with No Religion.” Secularism and Nonreligion 1:1-16.