Core Seminar Schedule
    Colloquium on Social      Science and Health
    Key Program Dates for Scholars, Faculty and Directors

Related Links & FAQs  
Return to Top  
Quick Links to Past Cohorts:
Cohort XX and XXI
Cohort XIX
Cohort XVIII

Cohort XVII

Cohort XVI
Cohort XV
Cohort XIV
Cohort XIII
Cohort XII
Cohort XI
Cohort X

Cohorts XVIII & XIX

Cohorts 18 & 19

Back Row: Neale Mahoney (18), Michael Geruso (19), Benjamin Hertzberg (18)
Front Row: Tiffany Joseph (18), Daniel Gillion (19), Robert Vargas (18)

Cohort XVIII (2011 - 2013)
Ben Hertzberg Image

Benjamin Hertzberg received a Ph.D. in political science at Duke University in 2011. His primary research interests are in the fields of political theory and religion and politics. His dissertation develops a political liberal ethics of citizenship that reconciles conflicting religious and civic obligations concerning political participation and deliberation.  He defends norms for democratic decision-making that allow citizens to make religious and other controversial arguments in public political discussions while preserving citizens' commitments to liberal-democratic legitimacy, commitments that underlie protection for citizens' basic rights and liberties. Benjamin plans to consider the normative implications of religious conflicts in health policy while a fellow in the program.


Tiffany Joseph Image

Tiffany Joseph received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Michigan in 2011. Her primary research interests include: comparative frameworks of race in the Americas, how immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean adapt to the US racial system, the impact of immigration on the US racial system, and the experiences of faculty of color and women in academia. Dr. Joseph conducted her dissertation research in Governador Valadares, Brazil where she examined how US migration influenced Brazilian return migrants’ perceptions of race in the US and Brazil. Her current project integrates immigration and health policy by exploring how documentation status influences the health outcomes and healthcare access of Latino immigrants in the Boston metropolitan area. After program completion, she will begin an Assistant Professor of Sociology position at Stony Brook University.


Neale Mahoney Image

Neale Mahoney received a  Ph.D. in economics at Stanford University in 2011. He conducts research in the fields of public finance and industrial organization and has a particular interest in health insurance markets. In his dissertation, he examines the implicit health insurance households received from the ability to declare bankruptcy, the effects of supplemental Medigap insurance on overall medical utilization, and the efficiency consequences of community-rating regulations. After completing the Program, he will assume a faculty position at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.


Return to Top

group photo

Front Row, Cohort 18: Benjamin Hertzberg, Tiffany Joseph, Neale Mahoney
Back Row, Cohort 17: Michael Sauder, Brigham Frandsen, Robert Saldin

Cohort XVII (2010 - 2012)
Pic of Bzostek

Brigham Frandsen received a Ph.D. in economics from MIT in 2010. His research focuses on the causal effect of interventions and institutions on the distribution of individual outcomes in health care, education, and labor markets, and on developing the econometric tools to identify and estimate these effects. Some current projects include a study of the political economy of union wage setting and its effect on the distribution of earnings, and the effect of fragmentation in health care on the distribution of patient outcomes.



Pic of Saldin

Robert Saldin holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Virginia and is currently on leave from the University of Montana, where he is an assistant professor in the Political Science Department.  His first major research project focused on the role of wars in American political development.  As a RWJF Scholar, he is using an historical institutionalist approach to study long-term care’s policy history and its place in the American welfare regime.


Pic of Levy

Michael Sauder holds a Ph.D. is sociology from Northwestern University and is currently on leave from the University of Iowa, where he is an Associate Professor in the Sociology Department. His research interests include quantification, organizational evaluation, and status. He is currently completing a project that explores the effects of public rankings on higher education. Ongoing research includes a study of how children’s hospitals use rankings, awards, and certifications to establish organizational identity and an investigation of how the conference structure of intercollegiate football helps to shape the status system of higher education.


Return to Top


Cohorts XVI & XVII

Front Row: Matthew Levy, Michael Sauder, Hilary Levey, Robert Saldin
Back Row: Hahrie Han, Brigham Frandsen, Sharon Bzostek

Cohort XVI (2009 - 2011)
Pic of Bzostek

Sharon Bzostek received her Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton University in 2009. Her primary research interests are in the fields of family demography, childhood inequality, and health disparities. Current research projects include an examination of mothers’ re-partnering patterns after non-marital births, a study of child health disparities resulting from instability in family structure, and an analysis of differences in maternal and paternal reports of children’s health status. As an RWJ scholar, Bzostek will be studying parental refusal of early childhood vaccinations. After completing the program she will assume a position as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Rutgers University.


Pic of Levy

Matthew Levy received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley in 2009.  His primary research interests are in the fields of public economics and behavioral economics. His dissertation examined the effect of psychological biases on addiction and the demand for cigarettes and consumer prediction errors on the demand for fuel economy in cars.  As a Scholar, Dr. Levy is interested in exploring how consumers' systematic departures from rational choice affect their health decisions, the effects these have on medical and health insurance markets, and the potential for policy-makers to help overcome these market failures.



Pic of Han

Hahrie Han received her Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University in 2005, and will be on leave from Wellesley College, where she is the Sidney R. Knafel Assistant Professor of Social Sciences in the Department of Political Science.  Her research focuses on ways people become motivated to participate in politics, particularly among the underprivileged.  Her current research examines the role that political organizations (such as civic associations, parties, and campaigns) play in motivating participation and the dynamics of political mobilization around key policy issues.


Pic of Levey Hilary Levey received a Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton University in 2009. Her primary research interests are in childhood and family, culture, gender, and qualitative methods. Her dissertation (under contract with the University of California press) examined the development of competitive children's activities for elementary school-age children and how families experience three case study activities-- chess, dance, and soccer. Previous work has examined child beauty pageants, Kumon after-school learning centers, and the role of children in ethnographic research.  While in the program she will investigate the rise of children's injuries from youth sports.


Return to Top

Cohorts XV & XVI

Front Row: Patty Strach, Matthew Levy, Anna Levine, Colin Jerolmack
Back Row: Sharon Bzostek, Hahrie Han, Hilary Levey, Christine Percheski

Cohort XV (2008 - 2010)

Colin Jerolmack received a Ph.D. in sociology from the City University of New York in 2008. His primary fields of research are urban communities and environmental sociology. His dissertation is a comparative ethnography that examines the ways that relations with animals structure urban life.  He is currently completing a book based on the dissertation, to be published by the University of Chicago Press.  As an RWJF Scholar, he is interested in studying the relationship between animal control policies and the perceived threat of zoonotic diseases.  He is also researching how people who are socially isolated make decisions about their health, and if they suffer health disparities independent of poverty.  After completing the Program, he will assume a position as Assistant Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies at New York University.

To My Website


Patricia Strach received a Ph.D. in political science from University of Wisconsin at Madison in 2004 and is currently on leave from the University at Albany, State University of New York, where she is an assistant professor in the Departments of Political Science, and Public Administration and Policy.  Her research examines the relationship between social and political institutions in American public policy.  Previously, she mapped the role of family in the policy process and the consequences for policy when social practices changed over time.  Currently, she is working on a project that looks at when and why advocacy groups that wish to solve a social problem choose to turn to government (hence making public policy) and when and why they take alternative strategies (e.g. fundraising, marketing).



Christine Percheski received her Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton University in 2008. Her primary research interests are in women's employment, family demography, and social inequality. Dr. Percheski's recent work has considered questions of how family characteristics correlate with employment including whether becoming a father affects employment differently for married and unmarried men, how the child penalty on women's employment has changed across birth cohorts of college-educated women in professional occupations,and how the employment patterns of new mothers vary by whether they are married, cohabiting or lone mothers. In future research projects, she will consider the effects of employment policies (including parental leave and paid sick days) on maternal and child health, as well as how increasing instabilities in employment and family life place low-income families and racial/ethnic minorities at risk of health insurance coverage losses. After completing the program, she will assume a position as assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Northwestern University.



Anna Levine received a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University in 2008. Her research interests include industrial organization economics and health economics. Her dissertation examines the impact of market structure on the returns to innovation in the biotechnology pharmaceutical industry. As a Scholar, she is interested in continuing to explore how market structure and competition impact the effects of regulation and the direction of innovation in the health care industry. Following the program, she will join the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis as an Assistant Professor.


To My Website

Return to Top

Cohorts XIV & XV
RWJ Cohorts 14 & 15

L to R, Front Row, Cohorts XV:Colin Jerolmack, Christine Percheski, Patricia Strach, Anna Levine
L to R, Back Row, Cohorts XIV: Laura Evans, Rodney Andrews, Nicole Esparza, Gopi Shah Goda, Avi Ebenstein

Cohort XIV

Rodney Andrews received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan in 2007. His dissertation evaluated the impact of legal challenges to affirmative action and the resulting policy responses to minority educational outcomes. Dr. Andrews looks at both Texas 's Top Ten Percent rule, the policy response to the Hopwood v. Texas decision, and at the changes in applications and admissions at the University of Michigan due to the changes brought on by the United States Supreme Court decisions in Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger . As a Scholar, he plans to examine the impact of early-onset psychiatric disorders on various labor market outcomes of African-Americans and Caribbean-Americans. The research is intended to shed light on yet another aspect of health disparities



Avraham Ebenstein received his Ph.D. in economics from University of California, Berkeley in 2007. His fields of interest include labor economics, economic demography, and family economics. Dr. Ebenstein's past research examined the impact of fertility control policy in China on the sex ratio, and investigated policies that might address the "missing girls" phenomenon in Asia. He also explored linkages between declining fertility and increasing female labor supply in Taiwan and the United States in a comparative study. As a Scholar, he plans to study the health impacts of environmental deterioration, and the appropriate transfer policies to stem the growth of greenhouse gasses.

To My Website


Nicole Esparza received a Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton in 2007. Her research interests include organizational dynamics, urban inequality, and economic sociology. Dr. Esparza's dissertation used a multi-method approach to examine nonprofit organizations in twenty-six U.S. metropolitan areas. This research explored how interorganizational dynamics and social and political context affect the distribution of homeless services. As a Scholar, Dr. Esparza is interested in studying hospital patient "dumping," a practice in which hospitals avoid high-cost patients by refusing to admit, transferring, and/or releasing patients in unstable conditions.



Laura Evans is an Assistant Professor in the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington. She received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan in 2005. Dr. Evans' research focuses on local politics and intergovernmental relations. She is completing a book manuscript entitled The Fight for Change inside Institutions: American Federalism and Strategies of Tribal Governments. The book examines strategies and institutions that enable American Indian tribes and other politically marginalized groups to win surprising political victories. As a Scholar, Dr. Evans has two projects underway. The first explores when local officials identify health issues as a regional concern and the dynamics behind such discourse. The second addresses the health politics of state earmarks.



Gopi Shah Goda received her Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University in 2007.  Prior to her doctoral studies, she worked as an actuary at a life insurance company and became a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries in 2004.  Her interests span public finance, demography, and labor economics, and her dissertation examined the labor supply incentives embedded in the Social Security program.  As a Scholar, she is expanding her research on the elderly by working on topics related to long-term care, Medicare and Medicaid.

To My Website

Return to Top

Cohorts XIV & XIII

2008 photo

L to R: Front Row: Laura Evans, Gopi Shah Goda; Middle Row: Damon Centola, Susan Moffitt, Wesley Yin, Nicole Esparza; Back Row: Radha Iyengar, Avi Ebenstein, Rodney Andrews

Cohort XIII

Damon Centola received his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2006, where he was an IGERT fellow in non-linear dynamics and chaos. His research interests include the diffusion of innovations and cultural traits, the mobilization of social movements, and the segregation and stratification of social groups. His dissertation research, which has been published in Physica A and the American Journal of Sociology , uses techniques from statistical physics, agent-based modeling, and network theory to study the dynamics of collective action. As a scholar, he will work on the policy implications of diffusion dynamics in health care.



Radha Iyengar received her Ph.D. in economics from the Princeton University in 2006. Her primary fields of interest are labor economic and public finance. In her dissertation she analyzed attorney performance in the Federal indigent defense system. In her previous work she studied the effect of Three-Strikes law in California on the propensity to commit violent crime and the effect of mandatory arrest law for intimate partner abuse on domestic violence. She has also worked extensively with the National Network to End Domestic Violence to help develop and provide empirical support for federal domestic violence policy. As a scholar, Dr. Iyengar is interested in studying the effect of criminal justice policy and drug and gun markets and the effectiveness of these laws on improving mortality and morbidity in disadvantaged populations. She is also interested in studying the relationship between labor market structures and insurance coverage and the role this relationship has in generating and preserving the health gradient in the United States.



Susan Moffitt received a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan in 2005. Her research focuses on public bureaucracies and government regulation, with particular emphasis on informational approaches to regulation. She has co-authored work on policy implementation, and she is currently completing two book projects. One book considers government agencies' choices about secrecy and publicity and how those choices bear on agencies' regulatory goals. The second book is a co-authored study of ambitious social policy reform and the learning such reform requires of implementers and regulatory targets. While a scholar at Harvard, her research will examine the choices the Food and Drug Administration makes to promote agency and public learning about approved drugs' safety and efficacy.



Wesley Yin received a Ph.D in economics from Princeton University in 2005. He is currently on leave from the University of Chicago where he is an assistant professor at the Harris School of Public Policy.   Dr. Yin has worked on a wide range of topics in microeconomics. In recent work, he has studied the economics of innovation, the diffusion of medical technology, savings behavior, and information in credit markets.   As a Program scholar at Harvard, Dr. Yin will investigate models of technology adoption for both health care providers and consumers in order to study to study the impact of medical innovations on health behaviors and quality of medical care.


Return to Top

Cohorts X & XI

Top row (left to right): Katherine Swartz, Nicholas Christakis, Peter Marsden
Middle row (left to right):
Jason Barabas, Joshua Guetzkow, Julia Lynch, Joe Newhouse,
Erica Field (below Julia Lynch), Katherine Carman (below Joe Newhouse)
Bottom row (left to right): Gary King, Debra Javeline, Wendy Cadge, Cynthia Perry

Cohort XII

Jake Bowers earned a Ph.D in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, and is currently an assistant professor in the Political Science Department at the University of Michigan. He is also a faculty associate in the Center for Political Studies and a faculty affiliate in the Quantitative Methodology Program at the Institute for Social Research there. His research focuses on methodology and on the behavior of individual people. He is Currently working on (1) applications of randomization inference and matching to political science problems --- particularly those involving small, non-random samples and clustered or multilevel data --- and (2) a framework for studying what precipitates episodes of political participation in the lives of ordinary citizens. He will continue to pursue these interests in methodology and behavior as a Scholar in the Program. Bowers plans to study research designs and statistical methods that allow simple yet confident determinations of the causal effects of policy manipulations or changes in institutional context on individual political and health behavior.

To My Website

Jeremy Freese is currently on leave from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is an associate professor of sociology. He completed his Ph.D. in sociology at Indiana University in 2000. His primary research interests are in social psychology, technology, and the relationship between biological and social processes. He has published articles in journals including the American Sociological Review, the American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, the Annual Review of Sociology, and the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. He is also co-author of a book on using statistical software for a range of common social and health science applications.


Lei Jin received her PhD in sociology from The University of Chicago in 2005. Her research interests include the sociology of professions, the sociology of scientific knowledge and medical sociology. Her dissertation examines the implications of evidence-based medicine movement, often advocated as a new paradigm in the practice of scientific medicine, in physicians' work and physicians' attitude toward this movement. As a scholar, Dr. Jin will study how the proliferation of medical knowledge in the lay public influences the patterns of medical practice, patient-doctor interaction, and unequal access to medical treatments.


Kathleen Mullen received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago in 2005. Her primary field of interest is applied microeconometrics. In her dissertation she analyzed models of food consumption of food stamp participants and their effectiveness in informing public policy. In her previous work she studied determinants of educational attainment and the effect of schooling on achievement test scores. Currently, she is examining the effectiveness of pay-for-performance programs, which tie monetary incentives for physician groups to their performance on evidence-based quality measures, as a tool for improving the quality of healthcare providers.

To My Website

Return to Top
Cohort XI

Jason Barabas (Ph.D., Northwestern University , Political Science) was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at Princeton University and recently accepted a position in the department of political science at Florida State University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Analysis, International Studies Quarterly, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, and in edited volumes from Oxford University Press and Routledge. As a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Scholar, Dr. Barabas will study how citizens learn about health issues from the mass media as well as public opinion toward the privatization of health care and retirement in America .

To My Website

Wendy Cadge completed her Ph.D. in sociology at Princeton University and will join the Department of Sociology at Brandeis University in the fall of 2006. Her research interests center around religious pluralism, immigration, and gender and sexuality in the contemporary United States. Her first book, Heartwood: The First Generation of Theravada Buddhism in America is an ethnographic study of a Thai Buddhist temple in Philadelphia and a convert Buddhist center in Cambridge , Massachusetts. She has also published articles about Asian religions in America, public conflicts over homosexuality, religion and the nonprofit sector in the United States, religion and immigration, and other topics in Social Science Quarterly, Sociology of Religion, American Behavioral Scientist , Contexts: Understanding People in Their Social Worlds, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, and Gender and Society. As a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Scholar, she is writing a book about religion and spirituality in hospitals.

To My Website

Joshua Guetzkow recently received his Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton University. His dissertation focuses on the changing relationship between social welfare and criminal justice policy in the United States over the last 40 years. He is also involved in a research project with Bruce Western on state-level income inequality in the U.S. and its effects on incarceration. He recently published a study in the American Sociological Review, with Michèle Lamont and Grégoire Mallard, on the definition(s) and significance of originality in the social sciences and humanities. More broadly, his research interests include the role of ideas in policymaking, modalities of the governance of social marginality, economic inequality and the sociology of knowledge. As a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Scholar, he will launch a research project on the intersection of psychological knowledge and the law, with an emphasis on the growing use of the criminal justice system to manage public mental health problems.


Cynthia Perry received a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2004. Her studies were funded by a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship and a fellowship from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Her research interests are in applied microeconomics and health policy, especially in the evaluation of policies affecting the health of disadvantaged populations. Dr. Perry's current work as an RWJ scholar examines whether treating maternal depression improves child health management by analyzing a sample of Medicaid children with pediatric asthma and their mothers. She is also collaborating on a project that will quantify the health benefits of bariatric surgery in a Medicare population.

To My Website

Cohort X

Katherine Carman completed her Ph.D. in Economics at Stanford in 2003. Her primary research interests are in the fields of public economics and health economics. Her dissertation examined the role of social influences on charitable contributions using detailed data from a workplace giving campaign; and the adequacy of life insurance holdings.  Her current research examines whether physical education requirements help to prevent childhood obesity.  Other current research projects include measuring the financial impact of changes in marital status, and understanding the relationship between student performance, teacher quality, incentives, and teacher certification.


To My Website

Erica Field completed her Ph.D. in Economics in 2003 from Princeton University, and will be joining the Economics Department at Harvard University as an Assistant Professor in the spring of 2005. Her primary fields of interest are labor and development economics and economic demography. Her past research has examined the household welfare effects of urban land titling programs on labor supply, credit access and fertility, and the effect of educational debt burden on career choice. Dr. Field's current research examines the link between, health inequality, individual health investments and economic mobility.

To My Website

Debra Javeline is an assistant professor of political science at University of Notre Dame. Dr. Javeline studies mass political behavior and attitudes, including the willingness of individuals suffering severe economic hardships to engage in political protest or to litigate. Recent publications include Protest and the Politics of Blame: The Russian Response to Unpaid Wages (University of Michigan Press) and "The Role of Blame in Collective Action: Evidence from Russia" (American Political Science Review). Dr. Javeline specializes in survey research methodology. As a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Scholar, she is beginning a new project on the links between social factors and public health. She is especially interested in whether politically active and politically passive individuals experience different health outcomes.


Julia Lynch is currently on leave from the University of Pennsylvania, where she is an assistant professor in the Political Science department. Her research focuses on the politics of the economy and the welfare state. She is particularly interested in the interaction between political economy and demography. Current research includes an investigation of public perceptions of intergenerational fairness in health policy in the US and Europe; and a project evaluating how demographic changes influence what kinds of social policies labor unions prefer.

To My Website


Return to Top