Dalton Conley

Princeton University


Primary Section: 53, Social and Political Sciences
Secondary Section: 26, Genetics
Membership Type: Member (elected 2018)

Biosketch

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. He earned a MPA in Public Policy (1992) and a PhD in Sociology (1996) from Columbia University, and a PhD in Biology from NYU in 2014. 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 NSF. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

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: 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 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. His recent work applies econometric methods for causal inference—namely, a natural experiment framework—to genome-wide data available in social surveys to model gene-by-environment interaction effects. He also uses genetics as a tool to interrogate social processes: for example, deploying random variation in the metagenomic environment to study peer effects in a way that is not confounded by homophily, the reflection problem or contextual effects. Lastly, he also works on mapping the genetic architecture of phenotypic plasticity, developing approaches to test for antenatal genetic selection, interrogating the assumptions underlying models for heritability, and characterizing social and genetic sorting (e.g., assortative mating and differential fertility) as distinct processes.

Powered by Blackbaud
nonprofit software