2022 Forty Under 40: Laura Merrifield Wilson

Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Indianapolis

Laura Merrifield Wilson teaches political science at UIndy, where part of her goal is to change people’s negative perceptions of politics. She also serves as the pre-law adviser, guiding students through their undergraduate curriculum in preparation for their legal studies and careers, and co-directs the Gender Center, which provides resources and programming involving gender, sex and sexual orientation. Wilson is active in the media, hosting “Positively Politics” on WICR-FM 88.7 and serving as a regular panelist on WTTV-TV Channel 4’s and WXIN-TV Channel 59’s “IN Focus.”

Getting here: Wilson was finishing her dissertation at the University of Alabama when she saw the UIndy position posted. “It felt serendipitous because there are few faculty appointments in my field,” she said. “So, in addition to being competitive and sparse, oftentimes you apply to schools that you really haven’t heard of.” But Wilson had—her sister graduated from UIndy in 2012, and her aunt and uncle both graduated in the 1980s. “So I was very familiar with the school and was eager to apply.”

First job: advertisements for a country radio station in Mason County, West Virginia

Proud moment: “I am tremendously proud of my family and my students. They teach me just as I try to teach them, and getting to see them reach their goals (for students, graduating and snagging dream jobs; for my youngest son, mastering potty-training) is so rewarding.”

Influential people: Her parents, Greg and Jane Sojka. “My parents always encouraged me and gave me guidance without pressure.”

Givebacks: board member, Girl Scouts of Central Indiana; member, Indiana Debate Commission; board member and past president, Indiana Political Science Association; board member, the Indiana Academy of Social Sciences; member, League of Women Voters and Junior League of Indianapolis; class member, Stanley K. Lacy Leadership Series XLV; fellow, Mitch Daniels Leadership Fellowship; member, United Way of Central Indiana Leadership United (class of 2020)

Downtime: family time•

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