Phone 814-732-2402

Office 111 Hendricks Hall

Department Sociology


Irene (Jung) Fiala is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology.  Dr. Fiala received her master’s degree in Business Administration and a Ph.D. in Sociology from Kent State University.  She currently conducts research in the relatively new area of animals in society, animal advocacy, and animal welfare.  In addition to her current work, she has written several articles on racial profiling and terrorism which are counted among her 13 publications.  Dr. Fiala has given over 70 presentations which includes international conferences (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, South Africa, and South Korea) and at regional conferences.  Irene has also given 50 local and regional newspaper/radio/television interviews and 2 Associated Press interviews (as of March 2020).   She regularly teaches courses in animals in society, victimology, juvenile delinquency, disability studies, and community organization and development.  Her course, Animals in Society, is the first of its kind in the PASSHE system and her chapter on Specieism is the first time the topic of speciesism as a form of stratification is believed to be used in an introductory sociology textbook (A Sociological Smorgasbord, 4th edition).

Dr. Fiala has testified or provided written testimony as an expert witness to committees for the Ohio Senate, the Ohio House of Representatives, and at her City Council on local matters regarding animal welfare legislation.  She is the founder of the Community Cats Coalition of Ashtabula County (2019).  An animal advocate for most of her adult life, Irene volunteers with the Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Rescue Team and is regularly deployed when she is not teaching. Irene also regularly participates in a variety of Field Research Expedition as a “citizen-scientist” with Moosewatch (the world’s longest running predator-prey study) and with Earthwatch (on climate change studies).   

In addition to an M.B.A. and Ph.D., Irene has training, education, or certifications in diverse areas including that of Field Traumatologist, a Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress, Humanitarian Certification, Firefighter I/II (240), Advanced Emergency Medical Technician and is a Rescue/Recovery Scuba Diver for Ashtabula County’s Water Rescue Team.

A well-seasoned traveler, having been to over 66 countries and counting, Irene brings to the classroom unique life experiences that inform her instruction.  Whether as a mountaineer, summitting some of the world’s highest mountains, or standing on the ocean floor, Dr. Fiala is considered by many of her students to be an inspiration.  In her own words, Irene asks students to “Dream Big. Live Larger”.