Professor Cai's research interests center on two areas: social mechanism of how biological and social factors influence behaviors, and developing quantitative research methods.
Specifically, he is interested in the integration of sociology with biological factors in the studies of sociological issues such as social and health behavior, stratification, and social network.
For example, Professor Cai and his colleagues have found that the effect of certain genotypes (DAT1, DRD2 and MAOA) on adolescent delinquent behavior depends on social process, such as family dynamics, peer relations, and school-experiences. Positive social influences tend to reduce the delinquency-increasing effect of a genetic variant, whereas the absence of social controls may amplify the effect of these genetic variants. We also found that friend behavior might be a particularly important environmental moderator of the expression of genetic disposition (DAT1) for adolescent drug use, smoking, dietary habits, and risky sexual behavior.
Dr. Cai's current project in research methods focuses on the issues of sampling weights in multilevel/ longitudinal models, for example, evaluating the effects of ignoring or incorporating sampling weights on the estimation of multilevel models under various sampling designs, and developing packages to test the informativeness of the sampling weights.
Dr. Cai is an Assistant Professor. He received his PhD in Sociology from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2010.
302A Chilton Hall