[Originally web posted April 27, 2005]

New York University sociologist Dalton Conley, author of The Pecking Order: Which Siblings Succeed and Why, has received the National Science Foundation’s 2005 Waterman Award, which recognizes an outstanding young researcher in any field of science or engineering supported by the National Science Foundation. Conley, director of NYU’s Center for Advanced Social Science Research, is the first sociologist to win the award since its inception in 1975.

This is the second time an NYU professor has captured the award. Gang Tian, a professor formerly at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, received the honor in 1994.

Conley has written The Starting Gate: Birth Weight and Life Chances (University of California, 2003), with Kate Strully and Neil Bennett, Honky (University of California, 2000), and Being Black, Living in the Red: Race, Wealth, and Social Policy in America (University of California, 1999). Conley has also authored or co-authored dozens of journal articles and book chapters. His op/eds have appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Time magazine (international edition), USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian (U.K.), and France’s Le Monde.

Conley’s most recent book, The Pecking Order (Pantheon, 2005), has drawn wide acclaim: “Conley turns conventional wisdom on its head” (New York Times), “From the first page, this book is engaging,” (Seattle Times), “Don’t get too attached to tidy assumptions…The Pecking Order is bound to shatter them” (Detroit Free Press). The Washington Post called Conley’s work “one of the most distinguished books” of 2004.

Conley received a B.A. (1990) from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.P.A.(1992) from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and a Ph.D. (1996) in sociology from Columbia. Currently a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and an adjunct professor of community medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Conley has been an assistant and visiting associate professor at Yale University and a visiting associate professor at Princeton University. Conley also has an affiliated appointment at NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. He has received several grants, including a National Science Foundation Career award and a Robert Wood Johnson Investigator award.

Congress established the Alan T. Waterman Award in August 1975 to mark the 25th Anniversary of the National Science Foundation and to honor its first director. The annual award recognizes an outstanding young researcher. In addition to a medal, the awardee receives a grant of $500,000 over a three-year period for scientific research or advanced study in the mathematical, physical, medical, biological, engineering, social, or other sciences at the institution of the recipient’s choice. Candidates must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and may not be more than 35 years old, or seven years beyond receiving a Ph.D., by the end of the year in which nominated.


New York University, located in the heart of Greenwich Village, was established in 1831 and is one of America’s leading research universities. It is one of the largest private universities, it has one of the largest contingents of international students, and it sends more students to study abroad than any other college or university in the U.S. Through its 14 schools and colleges, NYU conducts research and provides education in the arts and sciences, law, medicine, business, dentistry, education, nursing, the cinematic and dramatic arts, music, public administration, social work, and continuing and professional studies, among other areas.

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