Robert J. Sampson is  Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University and Director of the Boston Area Research Initiative.  He served as Chair of the Department of Sociology and taught at the University of Chicago for twelve years before moving to Harvard in 2003. He also taught at the University of Illinois in his first faculty position and was Senior Research Fellow at the American Bar Foundation

Sampson was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2008 and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Society of Criminology, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Political and Social Science. He served as President of the American Society of Criminology in 2011-2012 and in June 2011 he and his colleague John Laub received the Stockholm Prize in Criminology.

Professor Sampson's research and teaching cover a variety of areas including crime, disorder, the life course, neighborhood effects, civic engagement, inequality, "ecometrics," and the social structure of the city.  He is the author of several books and numerous articles—see the links to vita, selected papers, books, projects, data, classes, and interviews. In 2012 (2013, paperback edition) the University of Chicago Press  published Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect, the culmination of over a decade of research based on the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN), which Sampson served as Scientific Director. For an intellectual biography see the National Academy of Sciences (2008).