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Alondra Nelson

Harold F. Linder Professor, Institute for Advanced Study

Alondra Nelson's headshot.

Alondra Nelson is the Harold F. Linder Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study – where she leads the Science, Technology, and Social Values Lab – and a distinguished senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. 

A former deputy assistant to President Joe Biden, she served as acting director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). In this role, Nelson drove Biden-Harris administration strategy to develop science and technology policy that expands economic opportunity, protects civil rights, enhances security, and advances equity. She was architect of the White House’s landmark “Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights,” a cornerstone of President Biden’s Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence. Including Nelson in the list of “Ten People Who Shaped Science,” Nature said of her OSTP tenure that “this social scientist made strides for equity, integrity and open access.” Last year, she was named to the inaugural TIME100 list of the most influential list of people in AI.

Nelson regularly advises leaders in policy, philanthropy, and higher education. As a science and technology policy expert, she has provided guidance to local, state, and federal governments, legislators, multilateral and international organizations, and others. In October 2023, she was appointed as the U.S. representative to the United Nations High-Level Advisory Board on AI.

An acclaimed academic researcher and experienced leader, Nelson served as the inaugural Dean of Social Science at Columbia University and was the 14th president and CEO of the Social Science Research Council, an international research nonprofit organization. 

She writes and lectures widely on the intersections of science, technology, medicine, and social inequality. Nelson is the author of several books including, most recently, The Social Life of DNA. Her essays, reviews, and commentary have been featured in national and international media outlets, including The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Wall Street JournalForeign Affairs, Wired, and Science.

Nelson is an advisor to the Obama Presidency Oral History Project and serves as a board member for the Rockefeller Archive Center, the Innocence Project, the Mozilla Foundation, and the Brotherhood/Sister Sol, a Harlem youth development organization.

The recipient of several honorary degrees, Nelson’s honors also include the EPIC Champion of Freedom Award, the Federation of American Scientists Public Service Award, the Sage-CASBS Award, and the inaugural TUM Friedrich Schiedel Prize for Social Sciences and Technology.

She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Philosophical Society, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the National Academy of Medicine.