Funded Research by Theme

Social Science Training Program in Population Studies

Social Science Training Program in Population Studies

Sarah Burgard, Jeffrey Morenoff

Project Summary/Abstract The Population Studies Center (PSC) requests a five-year renewal of its predoctoral and postdoctoral Social Science Training Program in Population Studies, funded by NICHD since 1986, to build on a strong record of producing innovative, ethical, and productive researchers, including those from backgrounds underrepresented in these disciplines. Predoctoral trainees are drawn from Michigan’s highly ranked doctoral programs in sociology, economics, public health, and public policy. They will combine the specific doctoral requirements of their disciplines with additional specialized training in demography through a combination of formal coursework, informal seminars, and a research apprenticeship program grounded in PSC’s rich interdisciplinary environment. Postdoctoral scholars are researchers from a variety of social and health sciences who benefit from focused exposure to demographic theories and methods for studying population health. Most postdoctoral trainees are recruited from other universities, and benefit from matches with a new mentor or mentors, participation in a range of substantive, methodological, and professionalization seminars, and collaborative research. Michigan trainees are mentored by investigators on some of the most central data collection projects for studying population dynamics, such as the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. They gain expertise in the foundations of healthy pregnancies, child and young adult health, and lifelong wellness, with particular attention to the social and economic determinants of health disparities therein. Our goal is to cultivate the next generation of health scientists for careers spent integrating knowledge, theory, and tools from economics, public health, public policy, and sociology to collect and analyze the data needed to address policy and health-relevant trends in population processes. Leadership: The program will be co-led by Dr. Sarah Burgard, director of the PSC and NIH-funded sociologist and epidemiologist focused on the social determinants of socioeconomic, gender and racial/ethnic health disparities, and Dr. Paula Fomby, associate director and training director of the PSC since 2017 and NIH-funded family demographer. The MPIs are supported by a training committee of field coordinators from Economics/Public Policy (Dr. Dean Yang), Health Behavior and Health Education (Dr. Arline Geronimus) and Sociology/Public Policy (Dr. Jeff Morenoff, former PSC Center Director) all full professors and experienced mentors. Trainees will be mentored by diverse training faculty from these and related disciplinary departments, researchers with well-funded projects and a strong record of mentoring and placing trainees in leading academic and governmental research positions. The training program will be stewarded by the PSC, one of the oldest population centers in the United States, with a distinguished 60-year record of domestic and international research and training in population dynamics.

This long-standing training program produces scholars with the knowledge and tools of population science as well as specialized expertise from across the social sciences in areas vital to public health, including the foundations of healthy pregnancies, child and adolescent health and the transition to adulthood, and lifelong wellness. These scholars generate interdisciplinary understanding of potential intervention points to reduce health disparities in early and later life from positions in government, academia, and research and policy organizations.

Funding source: The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NIH)
Funding dates: 05/20/2022-04/30/2027