Distinguished Research Professor


324 Baldwin Hall
Phone Number:

Dr. Ron Simons is Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology, Co-Director of the Center on the Social Environment, Epigenetics, and Health, and Senior Fellow in the Owens Institute for Behavior Research. He received a Ph.D. in Sociology from Florida State University and completed his post doctoral work at the University of Wisconsin. His research areas include: a) the manner in which family processes, peer associations, community context and incarceration combine to influence risk for criminal behavior and emotional problems, b) the effect of discrimination and racial socialization on physical and mental health, c) social experiences and cognitive processes that influence the quality of romantic relationships and health, and d) the way in which social conditions and circumstances become biologically embedded via various avenues (gene expression, inflammation) and influence biological aging, morbidity and mortality.


  • NIMH posdoctoral fellow, Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin
  • Ph.D. Sociology, Florida State University
  • M.S.S.W. Social Work (minor in Psychology), University of Wisconsin
  • B.A. Sociology/Psychology, University of Northern Iowa
Of Note:
  • 2017-2022. Principal Investigator, "Psychosocial Context and the Biological Clock: Changes in Weathering during Middle Age," National Institute on Aging, $3,240,000
  • 2015. Elected as a Fellow. American Society of Criminology. 
  • 2015-2020. Co-Principal Investigator. "Romantic Partner Effects on Biomarkers of Health among African Americans." National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. $3,650,000.
  • 2014-2018, Principal Investigator, “Social Determinants of Inflammation and Metabolic Syndrome among Young Adult African Americans.” National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute. $2,891,000.
  • 2013, Best Article Award from from the American Society of Criminology,
  • 2007-2012. Principal Investigator, "Risk, Resilience, and Disorder: African Americans Transitioning to Adulthood." National Institute of mental Health, $3,275,160.
  • 2008-2012, Principal Investigator, "Community context and violence: African American youth transitioning to adulthood." Center for Disease Control, $1,050,000.
  • 2009-2012. Principal Investigator, "Factors Influencing the Health Behavior of Young African American Adults." National Institute of Drug Abuse, $525,402.
  • 2006-2011. Principal Investigator, "Vulnerability and Resilience among African American Parents." National Institute of Mental Health, $711,180.
  • 2007. MacNamara Award from the American Criminal Justice Society for best article (with Eric Stewart).
  • 2005. Appointed Distinguished Research Professor, University of Georgia.
  • 2003. Ruben Hill Research and Theory Award, National Council on Family Relations
  • 2002, Award for Outstanding Achievement in Research, Iowa State University
Selected Publications:
  • Ronald L. Simons, Man-Kit Lei, Steven R.H. Beach, Carolyn Cutrona, Frederick Gibbons, and Robert, A. Philibert (in press). The ratio of inflammatory to antiviral cell types mediates the effects of social adversity and age on chronic illness. Social Science and Medicine.
  • Ronald L. Simons, Man-Kit Lei, Steven R.H. Beach, Carolyn E. Cutrona, and Robert A. Philibert. (in press). Methylation of the oxytocin receptor gene mediates the effect of adversity on negative schemas and depression. Development and Psychopathology.
  • Tara E. Sutton, Leslie Gordon Simons, Ronald L. Simons, and Carolyn Cutrona (in press). Psychological distress, couple interactions, and parenting: A dyadic analysis of African American couples. Journal of Marriage and Family.
  • Daniel Mears, Eric A. Stewart, Patricia Y. Warren, and Ronald L. Simons (in press). Culture and formal social control: The effect of the code of the street on police and court decision-making. Justice Quarterly
  • Ronald L. Simons, M-K. Lei, S.R.H. Beach, F.X. Gibbons, C. Cutrona, A. Barr, and R. Philibert (2016). Economic hardship and biological weathering: The epigentics of aging in a U.S. sample of black women. Social Science and Medicine. 150, 192-200.
  • Mark T. Berg, Callie H. Burt, Man-Kit Lei, Eric Stewart, Leslie Gordon Simons, and Ronald L. Simons (2016).Neighborhood social processes and adolescent sexual partnering: A multilevel appraisal of Anderson’s player hypothesis. Social Forces, 94, 1823-1846.
  • Ashley B. Barr and Ronald L. Simons (2015). Different Dimensions, Different Mechanisms? Distinguishing Relationship Status and Quality Effects on Desistance. Journal of Family Psychology, 28, 360-237.
  • Mark T. Berg, Eric A. Stewart, John Intravia,*  Patricia Warren, and Ronald L. Simons (2016). Cynical streets: Neighborhood social processes and perceptions of criminal justice.Criminology, 54, 520-547.
  • Ronald L. Simons and Eric T. Klopack (2015). “The times they are a-changin’”: Gene expression, neuroplasticity, and developmental research. Journal of Youth and Adolescence.44, 573-580.
  • Callie H. Burt and Ronald L. Simons (2015). Heritability studies in the postgenomic era: The fatal flaw is conceptual. Criminology. 53, 103-112.
  • Ashley B. Barr* and Ronald L. Simons (2014). A dyadic analysis of relationships and health: Does couple-level context condition partner effects? Journal of Family Psychology, 28, 448-459.
  • Ronald L. Simons, Callie H. Burt, Ashley Barr,* Man Kit Lei,* Eric A. Stewart (2014). Incorporating routine activities, activity spaces, and situational definitions into the social schematic theory of crime. Criminology, 52, 655-687.
  • Callie H. Burt and Ronald L. Simons (2014). Pulling back the curtain on heritability studies:Biosocial criminology in the post-genomic era. Criminology, 52, 223-262.
  • Ronald L. Simons and Ashley Barr (2014). Shifting perspectives: Cognitive changes mediate the impact of romantic relationships on desistance from crime. Justice Quarterly, 31, 793-821.
  • Ashley B. Barr* and Ronald L. Simons (2014). A dyadic analysis of relationships and health: Does couple-level context condition partner effects? Journal of Family Psychology, 28, 448-459.
  • Ronald L. Simons, Leslie Gordon Simons, Man Kit Lei,* Steven Beach, Gene H. Brody, Frederick Gibbons, and Robert Philbert (2013). Genetic moderation of the impact of parenting on hostility toward romantic partners. Journal of Marriage and Family, 75, 325-341.
  • Ronald L. Simons, Steven H Beach, and Ashley Barr* (2013). Differential susceptibility to context: A promising perspective on the interplay of genes and the environment. In Biosociology and Neurosociology – Advances in Group Processes, Vol. 29. JAI  Press.
  • Callie Burt, Ronald L. Simons, and Frederick X. Gibbons (2012). Racial discrimination and crime: Racial socialization matters. American Sociological Review. 77, 648-677.
  • Ronald L. Simons, Man-Kit Lei, Steven Beach, Gene Brody, Robert Philibert, and Frederick Gibbons (2011).  Social Environmental Variation, Plasticity Genes, and Aggression: Evidence for the Differential Susceptibility Hypothesis.  American Sociological Review. 76, 883-912.
  • Ronald L. Simons and Callie H. Burt. (2011). "Learning to be bad: Adverse conditions, social schemas, and crime." Criminology 49, 553-598.
  • Ronald L. Simons, Man-Kit Lei,* Steven Beach, Gene Brody, Robert Philibert, and Frederick Gibbons (2011).  Social Environmental Variation, Plasticity Genes, and Aggression: Evidence for the Differential Susceptibility Hypothesis.  American Sociological Review. 76, 883-912. 
  • Eric Stewart E and Ronald L. Simons. (2010). "Race, code of the street, and violent delinquency: A multilevel investigation of neighborhood street culture and individual norms of violence." Criminology 48:569-606.
Curriculum Vitae:
Personal Website: