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Dr. Laura Upenieks is a native Torontonian and is one of the few born and raised Canadians never to have played organized hockey. Laura earned her Bachelors (2013), Masters (2014), and doctorate (2019) degrees from the University of Toronto. During her time there, she had a 10-year stint as a member and captain of the varsity women’s golf team. Laura was a member of 8 conference championship team victories and amassed 23 collegiate tournament wins as an individual. She was also a member of Team Canada at the World University Games (Taipei) in 2017. Laura currently holds the record for the lowest two-day stroke total at the Ontario University Athletic (OUA) Conference Championship. She was named the Athlete of the Year at the University of Toronto in 2018 and the University of Toronto’s Top Scholar Athlete in 2017.
After spending one year as a faculty member at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Laura joined the Baylor faculty in 2020. Laura teaches courses in the sociology of health, aging and the life course, and the sociology of sport. Her main research interests lie at the intersection of religion, health, and the life course. She has recently published her research in top subfield journals in the sociology of health and the sociology of religion. Inspired by wonderful and supportive mentors during her own academic journey, Laura is passionate about working with both graduate and undergraduate students to help them achieve their academic dreams.
In her spare time, Laura can usually be found spoiling a good walk on the golf course, where she (for the moment!) still maintains a scratch index and competes in amateur competitions. In 2020, she was selected to be a member of the PGA of Canada’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, which aims to improve access and opportunities in the sport of golf for minority groups. Laura also enjoys distance running and is currently training to complete a half-marathon. A lifelong sports fan, Laura obsessively watches the latest sports competitions on television, especially if the Toronto Raptors are playing.