Alondra Nelson Receives Inaugural Prize for Social Sciences & Technology

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Professor Alondra Nelson - Credit: Dan Komoda

The TUM School of Social Sciences and Technology at the Technical University of Munich (Germany) is honored to award Professor Alondra Nelson the inaugural Friedrich Schiedel Prize for Social Sciences and Technology 2023.

Professor Nelson is a widely acclaimed and globally recognized researcher, writer, and policy advisor, who currently serves as the Harold F. Linder Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and as a senior distinguished fellow at the Center for American Progress.

With the inaugural Friedrich Schiedel Prize for Social Sciences and Technology 2023, TUM recognizes Professor Nelson’s pioneering interdisciplinary scholarship and transformative work as a scholar and public intellectual, leveraging insights from science, technology, and society research and practice.

“I’m absolutely thrilled that Professor Nelson enthusiastically accepted our school’s inaugural Friedrich Schiedel Prize for Social Sciences and Technology,” says Urs Gasser, Dean of the TUM School of Social Sciences and Technology and chair of the selection committee. “I can’t think of a more accomplished scholar, generous leader, and outstanding advisor to receive this inaugural award. Alondra is a magnificent colleague who embodies both the vision behind this important prize as well as the values of our school in unique ways.”

 “I have deepest admiration for the faculty and students of the Technical University of Munich, and I’m honored to be associated with the legacy of one of its most forward-looking patrons,” said Professor Nelson. “As technology pushes the bounds of scientific knowledge and human possibility, the work to ensure the outcomes reflect our shared democratic values and uphold human dignity and agency becomes even more critical. TUM’s School of Social Sciences and Technology is at the vanguard of this work --- and I am thrilled my research and ideas hold such value to this exciting community of scholars.”

More about Professor Nelson

Professor Nelson started her accomplished academic career at Yale University and served as a professor of sociology as well as the inaugural Dean of Social Science at Columbia University. In her academic work, Professor Nelson has focused on scholarship on science, technology, and politics, offering a critical and innovative approach to the social sciences, and becoming one of the foremost experts in bioethics, STS, and social inequality in the United States. Her major research interests are situated at the junction of racial formation and social citizenship, on the one hand, and emerging scientific and technological phenomena, on the other. Through her written work, Professor Nelson has emerged as a leading authority on the social implications of medicine, science, and technology, and has raised awareness about the inequities experienced by underserved communities. In one of her most influential books, “Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination,” Professor Nelson provided deep, historical context to the health disparities that the African-American community in the United States has been exposed to and how this community acted to access healthcare, biomedical research, and technological tools.

In 2022, Professor Nelson was appointed the deputy assistant to President Joe Biden and acting director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), where she also served as the principal deputy director for science and society. In her role at OSTP, Professor Nelson significantly increased public access to federally funded research, launched important initiatives to increase data equity at the federal level, and led the development of the Biden-Harris Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights which guides US AI policy. When the international journal Nature included her in the list of Ten People Who Shaped Science in 2022, it said of Nelson “At the helm of the White House science-policy office, this social scientist made strides for equity, integrity and open access.”

Apart from her influential leadership in academia and politics, Professor Nelson has held significant professional roles focused on connecting the worlds of social sciences, technology, AI, medicine, and politics.  She is currently an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Political and Social Science. She also served as president of the prestigious Social Science Research Council and was most recently appointed as a member of the United Nations High-Level Advisory Body on AI.

More about the Friedrich Schiedel Prize for Social Sciences and Technology

In order to strengthen the social sciences and interdisciplinary work at TUM, the Friedrich Schiedel Prize for Social Sciences and Technology is awarded for the first time in 2023 by the TUM School for Social Sciences and Technology at the Technical University of Munich. The prize, endowed with 30,000 euros, is intended to recognize outstanding scholars and changemakers in the field of social sciences in the broader sense and to provide a stay of several weeks at the TUM School of Social Sciences and Technology. The Friedrich Schiedel Foundation, founded by the entrepreneur and philanthropist Friedrich Schiedel (1913-2001), supports social institutions and projects and promotes science and research. Friedrich Schiedel was an honorary senator of the Technical University of Munich.