Dr. Wrenn is Director of Gender Studies and Lecturer of Sociology with Monmouth University in Northeastern New Jersey. She studied food justice and social change with Colorado State University, where she earned her Ph.D. in 2016. She received her M.S. in Sociology in 2008 and her B.A. in Political Science in 2005, both from Virginia Tech. She was awarded the 2016 Exemplary Diversity Scholar by the University of Michigan’s National Center for Institutional Diversity, and is the 2015-16 Recipient of Graduate Student Research Excellence Award, bestowed by the Colorado State University Department of Sociology. She served as council member to the American Sociological Association’s Animals & Society section (2013-2016) and is an advisory board member with the International Network for Social Studies on Vegetarianism and Veganism with the University of Vienna. She contributes to the Human-Animal Studies Images and Cinema blogs for the Animals and Society Institute and has been published in several peer-reviewed academic journals including the Disability & Society, Journal of Gender Studies, the Journal of Agriculture & Environmental Ethics, Food, Culture & Society, and Society & Animals. In July 2013, she founded the Vegan Feminist Network, an academic-activist project engaging intersectional social justice praxis. She is author of A Rational Approach to Animal Rights: Extensions in Abolitionist Theory (Palgrave Macmillan 2016).
Dr. Wrenn grew up in a lower-income, resource-extractive community in Southern Appalachia, inspiring her passion for social justice and social change. Her graduate work with Virginia Tech reflects this heritage, investigating social and environmental inequality in Southwestern Virginia through historical comparative content analysis. More recently, her work utilizes social movement theory to explore relationships between humans and other animals and animal liberation efforts. Her dissertation research with Colorado State University explores the role of factionalism in social movements under the shadow of movement professionalization. Her work also prioritizes theories of intersectionality and oppression, much of which is heavily influenced by feminist traditions and social psychology. Works in progress investigate structures of oppression that manifest within social justice spaces. As reflected in her contributions to public sociology, Dr. Wrenn is also committed to maintaining bridges between academic institutions and the vulnerable communities and activists who stand to benefit from critical sociological research.
Dr. Wrenn has been actively involved in working towards positive social change long before entering her academic career. As a high school student, she served as a crew member for the U.S. Forest Service’s Youth Conservation Corps in the George Washington and Thomas Jefferson National Forests. In college, she continued this environmental and community stewardship as a Crew Supervisor for the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Youth Conservation Corps program in Virginia State Parks. This program serves at-risk youths and teens from vulnerable backgrounds. As a college student, she was also heavily involved in student activism, acting as president to the Virginia Tech animal rights and environmental awareness organization and founding the animal rights student organization at Colorado State University. She has also worked as an emergency caseworker for the Virginia Department of Social Services in Child Protection and has volunteered for the Virginia Tech English Language Institute and the Roanoke Valley Total Action Against Poverty. She continues to volunteer with a number of social justice non-profits today.