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Christakises To Be Pfoho House Masters

By Bita M. Assad and Ahmed N. Mabruk, Crimson Staff Writerss

Nicholas A. Christakis—a sociology professor at Harvard Medical School and in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences—and his wife Erika L. Christakis ’86 will become Pforzheimer House’s new masters this fall, said Pfoho Resident Dean Lisa Boes, Monday night.

Current Pfoho Masters Sue and James J. McCarthy announced their intention to step down this November.

Christakis is best known for his work on health and social networks. His current research explores how factors such as health, disability, and death can influence an individual's social network.

Last Wednesday, Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds announced in an e-mail to the Winthrop House community that Law School Professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. and Law School lecturer Stephanie Robinson will assume the posts as Harvard’s first black House masters next fall.

Two months before Sullivan and Robinson’s selection, Hammonds said in an interview with The Crimson that she hoped to usher minority faculty into recently opened House Master positions.

Like Robinson and Sullivan, who have an eight-year-old son, Ronald III, the Christakis family is relatively young, comprised of three children, Sebastian, Lysander, and Eleni, whose ages range from 11 to 16.

Christakis is both a medical doctor and a Ph.D., holding four degrees from various Ivy League institutions, including a B.S. from Yale and a master’s from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Christakis was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2006, and though he continues research at HMS, the professor continues to teach a popular course at the College, Sociology 190: “Life and Death in the USA: Medicine and Disease in Social Context”.

Christakis’ wife is an anthropologist and elementary school teacher who has spent her professional career advocating for children and families. A graduate of the College, she holds a Master’s Degree in early childhood education from Lesley University and one in public health from Johns Hopkins.

—Staff writer Bita M. Assad can be reached at

—Staff writer Ahmed N. Mabruk can be reached at

—Check for updates throughout the evening.

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