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New Faculty Focus: Sam Trejo

October 6, 2020

Sam Trejo, assistant professor of Public Affairs and Sociology, College of Letters & Science

Hometown: Austin, Texas

Educational/professional background: B.A., University of Texas at Austin; M.A. and Ph.D. Stanford University.

How did you get into your field of research? Great mentors! A lot of my research surrounds the integration of genetic data into social science research. The fact that the field is so new makes everything really fun and exciting. My research explores how social, environmental, and genetic factors combine to shape human development and the implications for public policy, using a wide range of quantitative tools, including quasi-experimental, computational, and biosocial methods.

What attracted you to UW–Madison? I love great public universities and college towns.

What was your first visit to campus like? Wisconsin in February felt quite cold to this Texan.

What’s one thing you hope students who take a class with you will come away with? That there is no such thing as a bad question.

Do you feel your work relates in any way to the Wisconsin Idea? If so, please describe how.  Yes! A key piece of the Wisconsin Idea is “to ensure well-constructed legislation aimed at benefiting the greatest number of people.” Much of my research involves assessing the causal effects of policies and practices—this information can then be used to determine how to best allocate societal resources to offer the most effective help to those who need it.

What’s something interesting about your area of expertise you can share that will make us sound smarter during video chats (and eventually parties)? Siblings share on average half of their genes, but the exact amount in any given case is a result of chance. This means some pairs of siblings share more than half of their genes while others share less than half. So, genetically speaking, if you have two siblings, you’re likely actually more “related” to one than the other.

What are you looking forward to doing or experiencing in Madison? Learning how to cross-country ski!