Alondra Nelson

Institute for Advanced Study
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Sociology, Demography, and Geography

Widely known for her research at the intersection of science, technology, and society, Alondra Nelson holds the Harold F. Linder Chair in the School of Social Science and leads the Science, Technology, and Social Values Lab.

From 2021 to 2023, she was deputy assistant to President Joe Biden and acting director and principal deputy director for science and society of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Dr. Nelson was the first person to serve in the latter role, which brought social science expertise explicitly into the work of federal science and technology strategy and policy.

In recognition of Nelson’s impactful OSTP tenure, Nature named her to its list of the 10 People Who Shaped Science in 2022. In 2023, she was included in the inaugural TIME100 list of the most influential people in AI, and was nominated by the White House, and then appointed by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, to serve on the UN High-level Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligence.

Dr. Nelson previously served on the faculty of Columbia University, where she was the inaugural Dean of Social Science and professor of sociology. Nelson is an award-winning author, who has published books and articles exploring science and its applications and their implications for social inequality, including the sociopolitical dimensions of genetics and artificial intelligence. She was formerly the 14th president and CEO of the Social Science Research Council, an independent, international nonprofit organization, developing innovative programs that brought foundational research to bear on key social challenges. Nelson began her academic career on the faculty of Yale University and received the Poorvu Award for Interdisciplinary Teaching Excellence.

Nelson is a distinguished senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. As a science and technology policy adviser, she provides guidance to local, state, and federal governments, legislators, multilateral and international organizations, and the philanthropic sector.

The recipient of honorary degrees from Northeastern University, Rutgers University, and the City University of New York, Nelson’s honors also include the Federation of American Scientists Public Service Award, the Sage-CASBS Award for “outstanding achievement in the behavioral and social sciences that advances our understanding of pressing social issues,” the MIT Morison Prize, and the inaugural TUM Friedrich Schiedel Prize for Social Sciences and Technology.

She has been elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the American Academy of Political and Social Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Philosophical Society, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the National Academy of Medicine.

Dr. Nelson received her bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from the University of California at San Diego, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She received her PhD from New York University.

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