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College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences

Faculty and Staff Profile

Shelia Cotten

Associate Vice President for Research Development
Provost's Distinguished Professor


Phone: 864-656-1299


Personal Website:

Educational Background


Dr. Cotten joined Clemson in August 2020 as Associate Vice President for Research Development. She leads the university’s Office of Research Development, fosters large multidisciplinary research projects, advances faculty development efforts, and helps generate new streams of research support. She is also provost’s distinguished professor and has joint faculty appointments in the sociology, anthropology and criminal justice department and the department of communication.

Before joining Clemson, Dr. Cotten was Michigan State University Foundation professor and associate chair for research in the Department of Media and Information at Michigan State. She served as director of the Sparrow/MSU Center for Innovation and Research, which built strategic research partnerships between MSU and the Sparrow Health System, and was the inaugural director of the MSU Trifecta Initiative for Interdisciplinary Health Research, a collaborative among the colleges of Engineering, Nursing, and Communication Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Cotten earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Wake Forest University, followed by graduate work, including a PhD in sociology, at North Carolina State University, and a post-doctoral fellowship at Boston University School of Public Health in Boston and the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts.

She is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, a past chair of the Communication and Information Technologies Section of the American Sociological Association (CITASA) and the 2013 recipient of the Public Sociology Award from the CITASA section of the American Sociological Association.

Her research focuses on technology use across the life course and the social, educational, health and workforce impacts of technology use. Cotten conducts large-scale community-based studies designed to use technology to enhance quality of life.

Through her career, Cotten has authored more than 110 peer-reviewed journal articles, proceedings and books and secured approximately $14 million in external research funding. In 2016, she was awarded the William F. Ogburn Senior Career Achievement Award from the Communication, Information Technologies, and Media Sociology (CITAMS) section of the American Sociological Association.

Research Interests

Technology use across the life course; social, health, educational, and workforce impacts of technology use; digital divide; aging; health; emerging technologies; automated vehicles (AVs)

College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences
College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences | 116 Edwards Hall