Shay O’Brien uses historical data to answer contemporary questions about elites and inequality in the United States. Sub-specialties include economic sociology, race and ethnicity, gender, and the sociology of elites. She is building a database of the full population of Dallas high society from the Gilded Age to the Second World War that combines basic biographical information with kinship ties, organizational affiliations, occupations, and select material property. Her dissertation project uses the Dallas data to tackle conceptual and measurement puzzles involved in studying persistence and change in elite populations over time. Before graduate school, Shay worked on a large-scale randomized control trial at the social policy research firm MDRC. She graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Anthropology (Honors), where she was a research assistant in the Anthropology department and won the prizes for Best Honors Thesis and Highest Achievement in Linguistic Anthropology.