Seth J Prins

Seth J. Prins, PhD MPH, is Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. He completed his doctoral training in the Department of Epidemiology, and his postdoctoral training in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences and the School of Social Work, at Columbia University. Dr. Prins's two programs of research concern the collateral consequences of mass incarceration for public health, and the effects of the social division and structure of labor on mental illness. Two questions have motivated his work to date: First, what are the theoretical and methodological assumptions underlying the growing use of psychiatric categories, such as antisocial personality, to explain and assess the risk of exposure to the criminal justice system, particularly in the context of mass incarceration? Second, what can we learn about the distribution and determinants of mental illness by examining social class as a dynamic relational process, rather than an individual attribute? Dr. Prins is also working on a project to study the role of adolescent substance use as determinant and consequence of the school-to- prison pipeline, disentangling individual risk, social determinants, and group disparities. Dr. Prins explores these questions at the intersections of epidemiology, sociology, and criminology, combining theory-driven analysis with advanced quantitative methods. He is a social and psychiatric epidemiologist interested in pushing the boundaries of the discipline to encompass rich social theory.

Research Interests

Adolescent / Young Adult Developmental Transitions
Adverse Childhood Experiences
Community Development
Energy Insecurity
Health Inequities
LGBT Populations
Policy (policies)
Social Determinants
Social Policy
Urban Equity
Urban Health
Urban Planning
Urban Policy
Mass Incarceration


American Community Survey
Administrative Data (state or national)
Current Population Survey
Decennial Census
General Social Survey
National Longitudinal Survey of Youth or other NLS datasets
Panel Study of Income Dynamics