Boardman receives Early Achievement Award


Jason D. Boardman

Jason D. Boardman is the recipient of the first-ever Population Association of America Early Achievement Award. The award is given to promising scholars who, as members of the PAA, have made distinguished contributions to population research during their first 10 years after receiving their Ph.D.s.

Boardman received his Ph.D. in sociology in 2002 from the University of Texas and has been studying the various social environments in which genetic factors are muted to a certain degree in terms of their influence on behavioral traits such as smoking or weight gain. However, Boardman explains that their understanding is still fairly limited as to the mechanisms responsible for this association.

He is an associate professor of Sociology and faculty research associate at the Institute of Behavioral Science, as well as the associate director of the CU Population Center, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

“The next goal,” he says “is to understand the very complex physiological chain of events that may link environmental factors such as social norms regarding smoking to observed differences in the influence of specific genetic polymorphisms.” Genetic polymorphisms are instances where an individual’s genetic makeup determines which morph of the phenotype is displayed.

Boardman plans to work with Matt McQueen in the Department of Integrative Physiology and the Institute for Behavioral Genetics to develop statistical methods for observing interactions between genes and the environment across the human genome.

Currently, he is working with researchers at the University of North Carolina to study genome-wide gene-environment interactions that pertain to an individual’s risk for obesity by using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

Boardman first became interested in demography when he was involved in the Social Environmental Working Group of the National Children’s Study. He was surprised by the relatively small role that the sociological perspective played in the design of the study and, although he felt that the study would provide a wealth of information pertaining to the biological and genetic factors that affect the individual, he wanted to better understand the social, cultural and institutional aspects of homes, neighborhoods, schools and workplaces that work to shape human nature.

Therefore, he decided to receive training in behavioral and molecular genetics from the Institute for Behavioral Genetics at CU-Boulder.

Since then, Boardman has received a K01 award from the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development and has amassed an impressive body of work consisting of nearly 40 publications in leading public health, sociology, demography, and behavioral genetics journals, as well as nearly 1,300 citations (according to Google Scholar).

For more information on the CU Population Center, see http://www.colorado.edu/ibs/cupc/

May 2012

 

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