Clemson political science professor elected president of Society for the Scientific Study of Religion

Clemson political science professor Laura R. Olson has been elected president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

CLEMSON — Laura Olson, J. Strom Thurmond Professor of Political Science at Clemson University, has been elected president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR).

The society is the leading scholarly organization for social scientists who study religion. It sponsors an annual conference each fall and publishes the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, which Olson edited for five years.

“The presidency of SSSR is an elected office, so it is an especially meaningful honor to be recognized by my peers in this way,” Olson said. “Moreover, the roster of past presidents includes generations of the leading scholars in my area of expertise. It is very humbling to have my name included alongside theirs.”

Olson’s research focuses on contemporary religion, civic engagement and American politics. She is the author or editor of eight books. Her work also has appeared in leading scholarly journals, including Political Research Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly and the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. She also has served on the board of directors of the Public Religion Research Institute in Washington, D.C., as well as on the American Academy of Religion’s Committee for the Public Understanding of Religion.

Jeff Peake, chair of Clemson’s political science department, said he is proud of Olson’s accomplishments and of the work she’s done at the university while helping raise Clemson’s profile an emerging academic center for the study of religion with her presidency.

“Laura is a highly regarded scholar on religion, politics, women and clergy,” Peake said. “Since coming to Clemson in 1996, she’s made great strides and has become a Strom Thurmond professor and a national leader in her research areas.”

Her term as president will last fall 2019 to fall 2020. In her role, she will give a public address at the annual meeting in 2020, as well as a few administrative duties, such as running the society’s committee that awards small research grants.