Summer Institute on Biological Approaches in the Social Sciences (SIBASS)


The co-organizers and principal faculty are Greg Miller, Thomas McDade, and Emma Adam (Northwestern University). The first summer institute will take place at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois (adjacent to Chicago) from June 10 to 14, 2019. The program accepts about 30 participants. Most participant costs during the institute, including housing and most meals, are covered, and travel expenses are reimbursed up to a set cap.

The workshop will consist of a week-long series of didactic lectures, small-group breakout sessions, and hands-on laboratory exercises. Attendees will (1) develop an understanding of the conceptual basis for integrating the social and biological sciences, (2) become acquainted with the basic units of biology – genes, cells, and organs – and how they function, (3) learn basic physiology of the nervous, autonomic, endocrine, cardiometabolic, and immune systems, and (4) gain familiarity with methods used to measure and analyze human biological processes, and critically evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. 

This Institute is intended to provide broad training in human biological systems, with the goal of helping attendees conduct in-depth process research linking social context, biology, and human capital. This focus is distinct from RSF’s Summer Institute on Social Science Genomics, which is devoted more specifically to theories, methods, and statistical expertise required to integrate genetics into social science research.


The target audience is post-doctoral fellows and untenured faculty within 10 years of the Ph.D., although we are open to applications from advanced doctoral students. There are no restrictions based on citizenship, country of study, or country of employment.

Priority will be given to candidates whose applications demonstrate (1) research excellence that is appropriate to their career stage, (2) a serious commitment to launching a biosocial research program, which (3) dovetails with RSF research priorities in Social Inequality, Behavioral Economics, Future of Work, and Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration.

Application Requirements

Applications must be submitted via the RSF online application portal, Fluxx.

  1. Create an account or log in to your existing account. **Account registrations are approved manually, please allow up to 48 hours for a new account to be approved**
  2. Start a new "Summer Institute" application and select “Biological Approaches.”
  3. Submit the following documents/information:
    1. a curriculum vitae;
    2. a 100-word overview of why you want to join the institute;
    3. a statement (maximum two pages, single spaced, 11 point font) describing your background, your current research, whether you have any existing background in biology, and reasons for your interest in integrating biology in the social sciences, particularly as it relates to RSF research priorities.
    4. a list of biology courses you have taken in undergraduate and/or graduate school or during your postdoctoral training and the names of (and links to) any other biomarker workshops you may have attended in the past. (Past experience with biology or biological methods is not required; this is for our information only).

For Ph.D. student and postdoctoral researcher applicants only, please also provide:

  1. an (unofficial) course/grade transcript for doctoral studies;
  2. two letters of recommendation from faculty advisors. These should be as informative as possible about your standing in the program (i.e., approximate rank in your doctoral class; plan for completion of PhD), general ability, research potential, and (if applicable) special interest in biosocial research.

Inquiries can be sent to

Technical questions about the application portal (Fluxx) can be sent to


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


The Russell Sage Foundation offers grants and positions in our Visiting Scholars program for research.


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