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Kristina P. Brant, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Rural Sociology

Pennsylvania State University

I am a sociologist engaged in community-based work, with a goal of informing policy and practice to support the vitality of rural U.S. communities.  My core research program concerns the family and community dimensions of substance use.  I utilize (mostly) qualitative methods, including ethnography and in-depth interviewing, to examine these issues in rural Appalachia.  With Penn State Extension, I put this research into practice through community-based programming in rural Pennsylvanian communities.  Outside of this focus, I have also conducted collaborative research on rural healthcare access, immigration policy, and people's utilization of their social support networks.

Research Interests

My independent research investigates how rural families and communities have experienced the opioid crisis. Utilizing in-depth interviews and fieldwork in rural Appalachia, I have written on topics such as institutional responses to parental substance use, family dynamics amid kinship care, and community understandings of addiction and recovery. My research aims to uncover and uplift the stories of rural people who use drugs and their families, drawing on lived experience to inform the work of rural policymakers, practitioners, and communities.

My work has been supported by the National Science Foundation and has been recognized by awards from the American Sociological Association, the Eastern Sociological Society, the Rural Sociological Society, and the Society for the Study of Social Problems.

Extension Work

Extension is a vital part of the work of the country's land-grant colleges and universities. Through extension, these institutions reach out to both urban and rural communities, utilizing their resources to address public needs. Here in Pennsylvania, Penn State, as the state's land-grant institution, houses the state's Extension program.

In my role at Penn State, I have Extension responsibilities rather than teaching responsibilities. Specifically, I am associated with the Food, Families, and Health team and the Energy, Business, and Community Vitality team. I am working to build out programming for communities and families impacted by the ongoing opioid crisis.