James H. Fowler

James H. Fowler

Fellow: Awarded 2010
Field of Study: Sociology

Competition: US & Canada

University of California, San Diego

James H. Fowler is an internationally recognized scholar whose work lies at the intersection of the natural and social sciences. His primary areas of research are social networks, evolutionary game theory, behavioral economics, political participation, the evolution of cooperation, and ‘genopolitics’ (the study of the genetic basis of political behavior, a field he is helping to invent). Fowler received his B.A. from Harvard in 1992, M.A. from Yale in 1997, and a Ph.D. from Harvard in 2003. Shortly afterward he joined the faculty of the University of California, first at Davis and then at San Diego.

Professor Fowler has published nearly a dozen articles in Nature, Science, PNAS, and New England Journal of Medicine, and dozens more in journals in political science, medicine, economics, physics, sociology, genetics, psychology, scientometrics, psychiatry, epidemiology, and social networks. His research has been supported by numerous grants from the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Aging), National Science Foundation, James S. McDonnell Foundation, John Templeton Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. This research has been widely cited and covered in more than 2,000 media outlets worldwide, including CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America, Today, PBS Newshour, and The Colbert Report. It has appeared on the front pages of the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today, and featured in several end-of-year lists such as New York Times Magazine‘s Year in Ideas, Time‘s Year in Medicine (twice), and Harvard Business Review‘s Breakthrough Business Ideas of the Year.

Fowler was named the “most original thinker” of the year on The McLaughlin Group, and one of the Nifty Fifty “most inspiring” scientists by the San Diego Science Festival. He was also recently given the “Emerging Scholar Award” by the American Political Science Association, and he has actively promoted the study of social networks in political science, notably by helping to found the Political Networks organization.

Together with Nicholas Christakis, Fowler has written a book for a general audience called Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives. It has been translated into nearly twenty languages, has won a Books for a Better Life Award, was named an Editor’s Choice by the New York Times Book Review, and was featured in Wired, Oprah’s Fall Reading Guide, Business Week’s Top Books of the Year, Good Magazine’s 15 Books You Must Read This Year, and a cover story in New York Times Magazine.

Profile photograph by Paul Schnaittacher.

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