Jason D. Boardman has received the first Population Association of America (PAA) Early Achievement Award. The award is given to promising scholars who, as members of the PAA, have made distinguished contributions to population research in the first 10 years of their careers after receiving their doctorate.
Boardman is an associate professor of sociology and a 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.
He received his doctorate 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. Boardman explains that their understanding is still fairly limited as to the mechanisms responsible for this association.
“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.