Jenny studies the role of sociohistorical context in shaping medical decision-making and healthcare-seeking behavior. Jenny uses a mixed-methods approach, integrating narrative interviewing and social network analysis, to explore the role of intersecting systems of race, class, gender, and disability in shaping how individuals with chronic and end-stage illness make meaning of, and navigate, healthcare.


  • Health Care Inequities
  • Chronic and End-Stage Diseases
  • Medical Decision-Making & Care-Seeking Behavior
  • Mixed-Methodological Approaches

Research Awards

2021 Graduate Research Award for Excellence in Research

Department of Sociology, Emory University

2021 recipient of the Maureen Blyler Graduate Research Award

2020 Research Paper Award, 1st Place

Georgia Sociological Association

2020 graduate student recipient of the GSA student paper award for seminar paper, “Racism, Sexism, and Mental Health: Through an Intersectional Lens”

2017 Research Paper Award, 1st Place

Georgia Sociological Association

2017 undergraduate student recipient of the GSA student paper award for undergraduate capstone paper, “A Comparative Analysis of Education in Romania, France, and the United States”

Recent Publications & Paper Presentations

McDonnell, Jenny and Ellen Idler. 2020. “Advance Care Planning & Healthy Living Through Faith: Targeted Opportunities in African American Communities”. Journal of Palliative Care and Social Practice 14:1-15.

Browne, Irene, Anne-Kathrin Kronberg, & Jenny McDonnell. 2022. “The Unexpected Spillover Effects of Restrictive Immigration Policy : Raising or Lowering Latino/a Earnings?”. Perspectives in Sociology.

2021 “Racism as a Fundamental Cause of End-of-Life Care Disparities”, Poster Presentation, Learning About Laney Graduate School Symposium, Emory University

2021   “Racism, Sexism, and Mental Health: Through an Intersectional Lens”, Paper Presentation, Georgia Sociological Association, Lake Lanier, Georgia

2020   “Unraveling the Effects of Social Class and Racism on Advance Care Planning”, Paper Presentation, Gerontological Society of America, (online due to Covid-19)

2020   “Racism as a Fundamental Cause of Racialized Disparities in Hospital Death”, Paper Presentation, American Sociological Association, (online due to Covid-19)

2019   “Dying to Live and Living to Die: Addressing Racial Disparities in Palliative Care”, Paper Presentation, American Sociological Association, NYC, New York

2019   “Fighting to Die: Confronting Racial Disparities in Care Preferences at the End of Life”, Paper Presentation, Southern Sociological Society, Atlanta, GA

2018   “A Comparative Analysis of Education in Romania, France, and the United States”, Society for Romanian Studies International Conference, Paper Presentation, Academia de Studii Economice, Bucharest, Romania

Manuscripts Under Review

McDonnell, Jenny. “Dying in a Racialized Society: Black-White Disparities in Planning for Death”. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. (Under Review)

McDonnell, Jenny. “Racism, Sexism, and Mental Health: Through an Intersectional Lens”.(In preparation to submit)

Vaughn, Michael Patrick and Jenny McDonnell. “It Was Just White Men Listening to Spanish Music”. (Under Review)

Research Experience

Graduate Research Assistant (2021 – present)

PI: Dr. Adam Wilk

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

National Institute of Health, K01 Grant

Responsibilities include directly assisting Dr. Wilk with qualitative study design, development of interview guides, participant recruitment, participant interviews, data management, coding and code book development, thematic analysis, interpreting findings, and academic writing

Qualitative Research Consultant (2021 – present)

Reducing Disparities in Access to Kidney Transportation (RaDIANT) Community Study

Emory Transplant Center

PIs: Dr. Rachel Patzer and Dr. Stephen Pastan

Funded by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities

Responsibilities include interview guide direction and revision, conducting focus group discussions, and data analysis consultation.

Qualitative Research Consultant (Spring 2021)

DGH Curriculum Committee

Rollins School of Public Health

Supervisors: Drs. Monique Hennink and Juan Leon

Responsible for collecting focus group discussion data, managing and cleaning qualitative data, coding and thematic analysis of data, and interpreting and presenting results.

Graduate Research Assistant (2020-2021)

Department of Sociology, Emory University

Supervisor: Dr. Irene Browne

Responsible for quantitative and qualitative data collection, data management, literature review, academic writing, manuscript preparation for publication and revision upon review

Graduate Research Assistant (Summer 2019)

PI: Dr. Ellen Idler

“Educational Materials for Advance Care Planning in African American Congregations”

Sponsored by the Center for Practical Bioethics and funded by the John and Wuana Harman Foundation

Responsible for conducting systematic literature review and qualitative meta-analysis, program evaluation, and reporting/writing results. Findings reported in 2019 annual palliative care research conference and published in academic journal following peer review.

Graduate Research Assistant (Fall 2018)

Department of Sociology, Emory University  

Supervisor: Dr. Ellen Idler

Responsible for citation management, systematic literature review, and book chapter preparation for publication.