Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Conley, Dalton
Location Princeton University
Primary Field Social and Political Sciences
Secondary Field Genetics
 Election Citation
Holding doctorates in both Sociology and Genomics, Conley has made key contributions to understanding stratification, documenting racial differences in wealth and their effect on black wellbeing, demonstrating that larger sibships and lower birth orders reduce socioeconomic attainment, and showing how environmental conditions affect gene expression in ways that promote inequality.
 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.

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