La Follette School Professor Jason Fletcher received a 2019 Vilas Mid-Career Award for excellence in research and teaching from UW–Madison’s Office of the Provost. The award, which provides flexible research funding for one year, is funded by the estate of William F. Vilas (1840-1908).
An applied economist, Fletcher is a pioneer in the field of social genomics and studies the intersection of health, education, public policy, and genetics. He has made major research contributions to research on smoking, obesity, alcohol use, drug use, college choice, and school performance.
In 2017, Fletcher and Dalton Conley of Princeton University published the Genome Factor: What the Social Genomics Revolution Reveals About Ourselves, Our History and Our Future. The book received two awards from the American Sociological Association in 2018.
“Fletcher’s book provides a comprehensive but accessible assessment of how genomics is altering basic social science’s understanding of issues of race, health, education, and economic success,” said La Follette School Director and Professor Susan Webb Yackee in her nomination.
Since joining the UW–Madison faculty in 2013, Fletcher has won more than $3.3 million in research funding from the Russell Sage Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, William T. Grant Foundation, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Child Health and Development, and National Institute on Aging.
His research has been published in high-quality journals in the fields of public policy, political science, sociology, labor economics, public health, and demography, as well as cross-disciplinary journals such as PLOS One and Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Fletcher also serves as director of UW–Madison’s Center for Demography of Health and Aging and executive director of the Wisconsin Federal Statistical Research Data Center.
Fletcher also is “a dedicated teacher, concerned with ensuring that all students learn the skills to engage in effective policy analysis,” Yackee said.
Additionally, Fletcher received a UW2020: WARF Discovery Initiative award from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). Fletcher’s project transitions the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) into the next decade of research questions and new opportunities by substantially expanding the core dataset.
The WLS is a premier resource of understanding how events and circumstances throughout life shape economic and health trajectories and can answer questions that no other data resource in the United States can answer. It started with a statewide survey of 30,000 Wisconsin high school students in the Class of 1957.
Since 1964, UW–Madison investigators have resurveyed and assessed a random sample of over 10,000 of the original 30,000 Wisconsinites as they completed school, entered the workforce, started families, experienced health transitions, retired and faced declining health and mortality.