DNA Molecules

Initiative in Social Genomics

The Initiative in Social Genomics is one of six successful proposals in the first round of Cluster Hires at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The aim is for UW to become home to the largest and most innovative group of researchers pursuing topics in Social Genomics in the world. The Initiative in Social Genomics is one example of efforts being made on campus to expand research into genomics. Additionally, in the fall of 2018, the University also opened the Center for Human Genomics and Precision Medicine.

As part of the new Cluster Hiring Initiative in Social Genomics, an interdisciplinary group of scholars is hiring three new tenure-track faculty members, all with appointments in relevant home departments, with expertise and interests in Social Genomics, defined as a field of research that integrates theories, data, and methods across the social, health, and genetic sciences.

These areas of interest are broadly characterized in three new tenure-track faculty searches in Social Genomics. Lauren Schmitz joined UW in fall 2019 for the “Gene-Environment Interplay and/or Epigenetics” position. We have a faculty offer pending in the “Computational Approaches to Social Genomics” position.

We are currently seeking applications for our “Implications of Social Genomics for Social and Public Policy” position.


Social Genomics: Faculty

Corinne D. Engelman

Associate Professor, Population Health Sciences


Research Interests

Aging and the Life Course, Impacts of Place on Aging Processes, and Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

Jason Fletcher

Professor, Public Affairs and Sociology


Research Interests

Aging and the Life Course, Biodemography, Determinants of Disparities of Aging Trajectories, Health Economics and Health Services Research, and Impacts of Place on Aging Processes

Hyunseung Kang

Assistant Professor, Statistics


Research interests

Biodemography, Health Economics and Health Services Research, and Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

James Li

Assistant Professor, Psychology


Research Interests



Qiongshi Lu

Assistant Professor, Biostatistics & Medical Informatics


Research Interests


Lauren Schmitz

Assistant Professor, Public Affairs


Research Interests

Biodemography, Health Economics and Health Services Research


Selected Publications

Fine-tuning Polygenic Risk Scores with GWAS Summary Statistics. Zijie Zhao, Yanyao Yi, Yuchang Wu, Xiaoyuan Zhong, Yupei Lin, Timothy J. Hohman, Jason Fletcher, Qiongshi Lu

Genome-wide association study reveals sex-specific genetic architecture of facial attractiveness. Bowen Hu, Ning Shen, James J. Li, Hyunseung Kang, Jinkuk Hong, Jason Fletcher, Jan Greenberg, Marsha R. Mailick, Qiongshi Lu

Detecting Local Genetic Correlations with Scan Statistics. Hanmin Guo, James J. Li, Qiongshi Lu, Lin Hou

Decoupling Genetics from Attainments: The Role of Social Environments. Jason Fletcher

Separating Measured Genetic and Environmental Effects: Evidence Linking Parental Genotype and Adopted Child Outcomes. Ben Domingue, Jason Fletcher

The positive end of the polygenic score distribution for ADHD: a low risk or a protective factor? James J. Li

Examining sex differences in pleiotropic effects for depression and smoking using polygenic and gene‐region aggregation techniques. Lauren L. Schmitz, Arianna M. Gard, Erin B. Ware