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My name is Zach Griffen and I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at UCLA.

I study the effects of quantification on social policy in the United States. My dissertation, Expertise and the Enigma of Policy Influence: How Interventions in Healthcare and Education Changed Economics, 1950-2022, is the first comparative history of the role economists have played in healthcare and education policy in the United States. I am also interested in the relationship between genomics and social policy, and am beginning a second major project, Polygenic Prediction, that investigates how statistical knowledge about genetic data is being mobilized in policy settings. At the heart of my research is an abiding concern with an updated version of a classic sociological question: is the purpose of quantitative knowledge to understand the world, or to change it?

Related to my interests in the production and mobilization of expert knowledge, I periodically teach the introductory course at the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics and worked for four years as Editorial Assistant to Stefan Timmermans at the journal Social Science & Medicine. For the last several years, I have also organized an informal 'Expertise Day' at the annual meeting of the Social Science History Association, bringing together sociologists, anthropologists, and historians who study the politics of expertise.

You can contact me at

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