Alondra Nelson, Acclaimed Scholar and Policy Advisor, Joins Innocence Project Board of Directors

Dr. Nelson is a leading social science researcher who previously served as the acting director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

12.01.23 By Innocence Staff

Alondra Nelson, Acclaimed Scholar and Policy Advisor, Joins Innocence Project Board of Directors

(December 1, 2023 — New York, NY) Today, the Innocence Project announced that Alondra Nelson, distinguished social science scholar and policy advisor, has been elected to its Board of Directors. 

Dr. Nelson is widely known for her research and expertise on science, technology, and social inequality, specifically the social implications of genomics and the governance of artificial intelligence (AI). She holds the Harold F. Linder Chair in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Dr. Nelson is also a distinguished senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and a senior advisor to the Center for Civil Rights and Technology, established this year at the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights. From 2021 to 2023, Dr. Nelson served as deputy assistant to President Joe Biden and was the first African American woman to lead the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). At OSTP, she spearheaded the development of the “Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights: Making Automated Systems Work for the American People.” She was included in Nature’s list of Ten People Who Shaped Science in 2022, and this year was named to the TIME100 inaugural list of the most influential people in the AI field.

“New technologies are scaling and accelerating risk to our civil rights and other harms. And in some instances, these same technologies may be useful in protecting our rights,” said Dr. Nelson. “At the heart of this acceleration must be an understanding that technology is a tool, and foundational rights and norms still govern them. The Innocence Project has championed the use of robust science and technology to guard our liberties and reverse injustice. I’m deeply appreciative of the unflagging heroism of the Innocence Project team, and excited to join the mission.”

Dr. Nelson has provided guidance on science and technology to U.S. local, state, and federal governments, as well as governmental bodies and lawmakers around the world. She 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. 

“Alondra Nelson is a groundbreaking social scientist whose research stands at the forefront of some of the most pressing issues of our time, including artificial intelligence (AI), democracy, and racial justice,” said Christina Swarns, Executive Director of the Innocence Project. “Dr. Nelson’s expertise will be invaluable to the Innocence Project as we work to ensure that AI helps to ameliorate – not deepen – the crisis of wrongful conviction in this country and advances our mission to create more fair, compassionate and equitable systems of justice for everyone.”

“It is a privilege to welcome Alondra Nelson to the Innocence Project Board of Directors,” said Innocence Project Board Chair Jack Taylor. “Dr. Nelson is paving the way forward in the AI revolution and leading the critical research necessary to ensure that social justice and equality are intrinsic to its application. Since its inception, the Innocence Project has been guided by science, and Dr. Nelson’s world renowned expertise will deepen our ability to free the innocent and prevent wrongful convictions.”

Dr. Nelson is the author of a number of award-winning books and articles, including The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome, and Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History. She is currently writing a book on science and technology policy in the Obama-Biden and Biden-Harris administrations, and a new work on the governance of artificial intelligence.

An elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Nelson is also an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

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