James S. Jackson, an APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow, Daniel Katz Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Director of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, has been appointed by President Barack Obama to the National Science Board (NSB), the policymaking body of the National Science Foundation. Jackson’s 6-year term on the board will begin in August. As a member of the NSB, he will work with 23 other board members to advise Congress and the President on science and engineering policy.
Jackson is known for his research on race, racism, and culture — and on how these factors influence health, attitudes, and social support across the lifespan and around the world. His research on members of the African diaspora in the United States, the Caribbean, and Europe have employed novel methods including multigenerational studies, longitudinal studies, and interviews.
The vast body of data Jackson has produced through his large-scale surveys is key to the work of many social scientists interested in studying race. Currently, he is leading “The National Survey of American Life,” which is the most extensive survey of the African American and Black Caribbean populations ever to focus on social, political, and health issues.
In his keynote address at the 2012 APS Annual Convention in Chicago, Jackson discussed the complexities of race and health, noting that health differences between Black and White people in the United States do not emerge until after early childhood. While Whites tend to have better physical health than African Americans in the United States, African Americans tend to have better mental health than Whites. A tendency among each group to respond differently to coping mechanisms like food, alcohol, cigarette, and drug use seems to contribute to these differences.