Mark Pachucki will use a genetic risk score for early puberty to test possible associations between early puberty and socioeconomic status (SES) disparities later in life, family composition, and adolescents' friendship. The project seeks to identify modifiable points of leverage - pubertal timing and friendship network dynamics - to improve SES trajectories and reduce SES disparities.
Dr. Pachucki is a sociologist who investigates phenomena at the intersection of social determinants of health, social network dynamics, and culture. While it is commonly accepted that culture and social context reciprocally shape our health, understanding the structure and meanings of relationships can give additional insight into individuals' health behaviors over the life course. His current research is focused in three general areas:
- Evaluating how adolescents’ social relationships and interactions shape their weight-related health behaviors. For example, how do a teen’s changing set of relationships with people in their lives affect the decisions they make about what they eat, or how they exercise?
- Using wearable sensor and other passive technologies to measure social relationships and their sequelae in ways that complement (and sometimes challenge) prior self-report or observational approaches to understanding social structure. In what ways does precise quantification of interactions provide new insights into social dynamics? In which cases does an individual’s own perceptions of their relationships provide useful information?
- Understanding how social ties to others at a given stage of one’s life can shape one’s future prospects. For instance, how does who you know when you were 5 years old affect your health at age 55?
These projects are each motivated by the same idea: that if we can better understand how individuals are connected during and across different stages of their life, we gain insight into changes in health behaviors and health status at the individual and population levels.