PETER V. MARSDEN, Edith and Benjamin Geisinger Professor of Sociology, and Dean of Social Science, received his undergraduate degree (Sociology and History) at Dartmouth College (1973) and his graduate degrees (Sociology, MA  and Ph.D. ) at the University of Chicago. He came to Harvard in 1987 after teaching for ten years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he also held administrative assignments as Associate Chair and Special Assistant to the Dean. At Harvard, he served as Chair of the Sociology Department between 1992 and 1998 and in 2002-03. He was Chair of the Program and Admissions Committee for the Ph.D. Program in Organizational Behavior between 2000 and 2003, and again between 2005 and 2010. In 2011 he was appointed Dean of Social Science.
Marsden's research interests are centered on social organization, especially formal organizations and social networks. He has ongoing interests in social science methodology and in the sociology of medicine. He has worked on organizational factors linked to the presence of various human resource practices- recruitment and staffing practices, "high performance" practices, and the use of "contingent" workers- in U.S. workplaces, using data from establishment surveys. He has studied survey measurement of social networks and research methods for establishment surveys. Marsden is involved in the ongoing data collection efforts of the General Social Survey, has been a lead investigator of three National Organizations Studies conducted between 1991 and 2003, and was a co-investigator on a project examining organizational approaches to the improvement of HIV care.
At Harvard, Marsden has offered courses on organizational analysis, social networks, mathematical sociology, quantitative methods, research methods, and integrating micro- and macro-sociology. He has served on the Sociology review panel for the National Science Foundation, and currently serves on several editorial boards. Between 1991 and 1995 he edited Sociological Methodology, the annual methodology volume sponsored by the American Sociological Association. He served as Chair of Harvard's University Benefits Committee and of its Health Plans Subcommittee until 2010.