Matrix Research Teams

Matrix Research Teams are groups of scholars who gather regularly to explore or develop a novel question of significance in the social sciences. Successful research teams integrate participants from several social-science disciplines and diverse ranks (i.e. faculty and graduate students); address a compelling research question with real-world significance; and deploy or develop appropriate methodologies in creative ways. Matrix teams may address any social science research question, theoretical or empirical, drawing on any of the social sciences. Matrix is especially interested in original and emerging approaches that explore new theoretical and empirical questions, and that combine research at different scales and from different methodologies.

Research Team

The Politics of Biology and Race in the Twenty-First Century

In 2000, Craig Ventner, Head of Celera Genomics and a lead scientist in the Human Genome Project, declared that "race is a social concept, not a scientific one," based on an analysis of the genomes of five people. Of course, his proclamation did little to remove perceptions of racial difference from society, and in fact, […]

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Research Team

The Human Right to Water

In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly recognized a human right to water and sanitation, acknowledging that everyone, without discrimination, is entitled to adequate, safe, accessible, and affordable water. But what, in practice, does the human right to water entail? How should human rights influence the allocation of water among agriculture, industry, households, and the […]

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Research Team

Imperial Declines

In Spring 2014, UC Berkeley Social Science Matrix sponsored a seminar on “Imperial Declines,” looking at how and why empires reach a peak before inevitably diminishing in power and shrinking in reach. Coordinated by Carlos Norena, Professor, and Daniel Sargent, Assistant Professor, both from the UC Berkeley Department of History, this seminar sought to examine […]

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Research Team

The Neuroscience of Decision-Making

In recent years, our understanding the biology behind human decision-making has expanded, as neuroscientists have made discoveries that shed light on disorders related to decision-making deficits, such as addiction, obesity, and neurological and psychiatric disorders. The use of brain-measurement technologies has meanwhile crept into the public sphere in other ways; for example, marketers and political […]

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Research Team

Tupí-Guaraní Language and History Group

In Spring 2014, Social Science Matrix sponsored a working group of researchers from the fields of descriptive and historical linguistics, computational phylogenetics, and lowland South American archaeology and ethnography. Their goal: to develop insights into the linguistic and social history of the indigenous Tupí-Guaraní-speaking peoples, who live across much of lowland South America. English words […]

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Research Team

Framing Rights and Immigration

Ask Californians whether they think immigrants should have a path to citizenship, and the answer you get back will depend heavily on how the question is framed. This important finding—described in recent research by a team of UC Berkeley sociologists—was at the heart of “Framing Rights and Immigration,” a Social Science Matrix seminar sponsored in […]

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Research Team

Data / Science / Inquiry

The past decades have witnessed a series of transformative shifts in the computational and statistical techniques that scientists use to collect, analyze, and share data. As early as 2008, pop media outlets such as Wired were predicting “the end of theory,” based on the provocative claim that “the data deluge makes the scientific method obsolete.” […]

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Research Team

Synching Sounds: A Phonological Phenomenon

Ask most English speakers to say the word “orangutan” and they are likely to say, “orangutang”. This switch is not a fluke, according to Sharon Inkelas, Professor of Linguistics at UC Berkeley. Rather, it is an example of a phenomenon called “agreement by correspondence,” or ABC. A similar pattern emerges with the word “smorgasbord,” which […]

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