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J. Mark Sowers Distinguished Lecture Series

J. Mark Sowers Distinguished Lecture Series

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A male Passerini’s tanager, Ramphocelus passerinii, eats the fruit of Piper sancti-felicis. Photo by Bernadette Wynter Rigley.

 The College of Science

premiere lecture series

Upcoming Lecture

Matthew O. Jackson

William D. Eberle Professor of Economics
Stanford University


Divisions in Social Networks and Implications for Inequality and Immobility


Wednesday, March 1, 2023
7:30 PM EDT
Goodwin Hall Auditorium, Room 190

white, older man with graying short hair smiling wearing a navy blazer

Divisions in Social Networks and Implications for Inequality and Immobility

We examine the extent to which the presence of various forms of social capital predict whether children in poor families rise economically. A network measure of connections across economic class lines is highly predictive of economic mobility.  We discuss why such economic connectedness should matter, as well as corresponding policy implications including algorithmic fairness in job referrals.

We then take a deeper look into the determinants of homophily (the lack of connections across groups) and discuss some new observations about patterns of homophily in networks and their consequences.

Matthew O. Jackson is the William D. Eberle Professor of Economics at Stanford University and an external faculty member of the Santa Fe Institute. He was at Northwestern University and Caltech before joining Stanford, and received his BA from Princeton University in 1984 and PhD from Stanford in 1988. Jackson's research interests include game theory, microeconomic theory, and the study of social and economic networks, on which he has published many articles and the books `The Human Network' and `Social and Economic Networks'.

He also teaches an online course on networks and co-teaches two others on game theory. Jackson is a Member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the Econometric Society, a Game Theory Society Fellow, and an Economic Theory Fellow, and his other honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Social Choice and Welfare Prize, the von Neumann Award from Rajk Laszlo College, an honorary doctorate from Aix-Marseille University, the Jean-Jacques Laffont Prize from the Toulouse School of Economics, the B.E.Press Arrow Prize for Senior Economists, the BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Economics, Finance, and Management, and teaching awards.

He has served on the editorial boards of Econometrica, Games and Economic Behavior, PNAS, the Review of Economic Design, and as the President of the Game Theory Society.

Past Lectures

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The World's Smallest Machines

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From SyFy and Marvel Comics to Superstring Theory, Evolution, and the CMB


Discovery of Pulsars: A Graduate Student’s Story


Generating High-Intensity, Ultrashort Optical Pulses


The Importance of Global Scientific Engagement

About the series

The J. Mark Sowers Distinguished Lecture Series in the College of Science at Virginia Tech is a forum for the exchange of new and innovative ideas in scientific fields. The series has attracted national and world-renowned scholars, including a laser physicist, a nanoscientist, an astrophysicist (and also Nobel Laureate), an applied mathematician, the director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, and a statistician who specializes in machine-learning. Discussions have delved into brain sciences, speech and hearing development, black holes, and more.

Generously supported by Mark and Debi Sowers, this series provides opportunities for the university community and general public to interact with and learn from eminent scholars and industry experts. Sowers is a Richmond, Virginia-based businessman and developer and longtime supporter of the College of Science. He sponsors the series to share with others his fascination with the sciences, in particular, physical science.

All talks are free and open to the public.

For more information:

Contact Jenny Orzolek, Senior Director of Major Gifts for Advancement | 540-231-5643