Home

Suessmilch Lecture | January 22, 2019

Leveraging Genetics to Inform Social Demography

© Dalton Conley

Abstract

The cost of genetic information has been dropping at a rate faster than of Moore's law in microcomputing.  As a result, the science of genetic prediction has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years and with it has emerged a novel field: sociogenomics.  Sociogenomics seeks to integrate genetic and environmental information to obtain a more robust, complete picture of the causes of human behavior and population dynamics.  This talk will highlight some recent examples of sociogenomic research, touching upon issues such as adolescent peer effects, racial discrimination and health, assortative mating and fertility patterns. The talk will conclude by discussing the social and policy implications of genetic prediction.

About the speaker

Dalton Conley is the Henry Putnam University Professor in Sociology and a faculty affiliate at the Office of Population Research and the Center for Health and Wellbeing.  He is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and in a pro bono capacity he serves as Dean of Health Sciences for the University of the People, a tuition-free, accredited, online college committed to expanding access to higher education.  

Conley’s scholarship has primarily dealt with the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic and health status from parents to children.  This focus has led him to study (among other topics): the impact of parental wealth in explaining racial attainment gaps; the causal impact of birthweight (as a heuristic for the literal overlap of the generations) on later health and educational outcomes; sibling differences that appear to reflect the triumph of achievement over ascription (but which may, in fact, merely reflect within-family stratification processes); and, finally, genetics as a driver of both social mobility and reproduction.

He earned a M.P.A. in Public Policy (1992) and a Ph.D. in Sociology (1996) from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in Biology from NYU in 2014. His books include Being Black, Living in the Red; The Starting GateHonky; The Pecking Order; You May Ask YourselfElsewhere, USA;Parentology; and The Genome Factor. He has been the recipient of Guggenheim, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Russell Sage Foundation fellowships as well as a CAREER Award and the Alan T. Waterman Award from the National Science Foundation.  He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Time and Venue

Tuesday, January 29, 2018, 3 p.m., in the Institute's Auditorium.

 

Socialize