Alondra Nelson headshot

Alondra Nelson

Harold F. Linder Professor
School of Social Science

Sociology |




Social Science

An acclaimed sociologist, Alondra Nelson explores questions in science, technology, and social inequality. Nelson's work offers a critical and innovative approach to the social sciences in fruitful dialogue with many disciplines. Her major research contributions are situated at the intersection of racial formation and social citizenship, on the one hand, and emerging scientific and technological phenomena, on the other. She explores and connects these dimensions in a range of publications, including Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life (with Thuy Linh Tu), Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History (with Keith Wailoo and Catherine Lee), Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination, and The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome. She is currently at work on a book about science politics in the Obama administration. A member of the editorial boards of Social Studies of Science and Public Culture, her essays, reviews, and commentary have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Science, Le Nouvel Observateur, and on National Public Radio, The New Yorker Radio Hour, and PBS NewsHour, among other venues.

Alondra Nelson has been appointed by President Joe Biden to perform the duties of director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and as Deputy Assistant to the President. Nelson continues to serve as Deputy Director of Science and Society of OSTP, and is the first person in this role, which brings social science expertise explicitly into the work of federal science and technology strategy and policy.

Dates at IAS

School of Social Science


New York University
New York University
University of California, San Diego


Appointments: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Board of Trustees 2020–, Russell Sage Foundation Board of Trustees, 2020–; Obama Presidency Oral History Project, Advisory Board, 2019–; Co-Chair, Committee on Emerging Science, Technology, and Innovation, National Academy of Medicine, 2019–; Committee on New and Emerging Forms of Data, Economic and Social Research Council, UK Research and Innovation 2019–2020; The Teagle Foundation, Board of Directors 2019–; Data and Society Research Institute, Board of Directors 2016–
Awards: Mirra Komarovsky Book Award 2013; Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Award 2012; Poorvu Award for Distinguished Interdisciplinary Teaching, Yale University 2008
Fellowships: Elected Fellow, The Hastings Center; Max Planck Institute for the History of Science; BIOS: Centre for the Study of Bioscience, Biomedicine, Biotechnology and Society, London School of Economics
Lectures: Morison Prize Lecture, MIT; OII Bellwether Lecture, Oxford University; British Journal of Sociology Lecture, London School of Economics; Davis Lecture, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University; John P. McGovern Lecture, Yale University; Mossman Lecture, McGill University
Memberships: American Academy of Arts and Sciences; American Academy of Political and Social Science; American Association for the Advancement of Science; American Philosophical Society; National Academy of Medicine; Sociological Research Association


Princeton University
Visiting Professor 2019–
Social Science Research Council
President 2017–
Office of Science and Technology Policy
Deputy Director for Science and Society 2021–
Columbia University
Dean of Social Science, Faculty of Arts and Sciences 2014–17; Professor of Sociology 2013–19; Associate Professor of Sociology 2009–13
Yale University
Assistant Professor of African American Studies and Sociology 2003–09; Lecturer 2002–03
Bavarian American Academy, Munich
Visiting Professor