Alondra Nelson is professor of sociology and the inaugural Dean of Social Science at Columbia University. She was previously on the faculty of Yale University and received its Poorvu Award for teaching excellence. On September 1, 2017, she will become President of the Social Science Research Council, an independent nonprofit that for more than nine decades has been dedicated to advancing research for the public good. She is the author of The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome, which will soon be available in an Arabic translation, and Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination, which was recognized with multiple scholarly awards and has been translated into French. Chair-elect of the Science, Knowledge and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association, her books also include Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History and Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life. In 2002, she edited “Afrofuturism,” an influential special issue of Social Text.
Alondra’s research has been supported by the Ford, Mellon, and National Science Foundations. She has been a visiting fellow of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, the Bayerische Amerika-Akademie, the BIOS Centre at the London School of Economics, and the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies. She has contributed to national policy discussions on inequality and about the social implications of new technologies, including artificial intelligence, big data, and human gene-editing. Alondra serves on the board of directors of the Data & Society Research Institute and on the program committee of the YWCA of the City of New York. She sits on the editorial boards of Social Studies of Science, Social Text, and Public Culture. Her essays, reviews, and commentary have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Science, and on National Public Radio, among other venues. Alondra is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of California at San Diego, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She earned her M.Phil. and Ph.D. in American Studies from New York University. She lives in New York City.