NEW YORK, NY, January 30, 2020—The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation today announced that Alondra Nelson, president of the Social Science Research Council and the Harold F. Linder Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, an independent center for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry in Princeton, New Jersey, has been elected to its Board of Trustees.
“We are thrilled that Alondra Nelson is joining the Mellon Board. As both the leader of one of the world’s preeminent research organizations and an accomplished scholar, she brings uniquely rich perspective and insight to the work of the Mellon Foundation,” said Mellon Board of Trustees Chair Kathryn Hall.
Nelson’s wide-ranging interdisciplinary scholarship explores the intersections of science, technology, medicine, and social inequality, focusing on questions of how racial formation and social citizenship interact with emerging scientific and technological phenomena. She is the author of several books, including The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome, in which she identifies how cutting-edge DNA-based techniques are enabling a confrontation with the long and complex legacies of slavery; and Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination. She has also written on the history of slavery, genetic genealogy, the “GU272”—the 272 enslaved people sold by Georgetown University to finance the construction of the university—and Afrofuturism, which explores the linkages between African Diaspora culture and technology.
“Alondra Nelson is a brilliantly innovative scholar and an effective organizational leader. Her intellectual rigor, cross-disciplinary perspective, and leadership experience will enrich Mellon’s work in support of the humanities and the arts and their contributions to a just democratic society,” said Elizabeth Alexander, President of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
“It is a deep honor to join the Mellon Board of Trustees. For half a century, Mellon has played a vital role advancing higher education, the humanities, and the human sciences, with a thoroughgoing commitment to inclusion and excellence,” said Nelson. “This unique mission has never been more critical. I look forward to working with President Alexander and my fellow Trustees in support of this important work.”
Before joining the Institute for Advanced Study, Nelson was on the faculty of Columbia University, where she served as the inaugural dean of social science for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. She began her academic career at Yale University, where she received the Poorvu Prize for interdisciplinary teaching excellence.
Nelson’s research has been supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. She has been a visiting fellow of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, the BIOS Centre at the London School of Economics, the Bavarian American Academy, and the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. In addition to her scholarly work, Nelson has written widely in popular outlets; her essays, reviews, and commentary have appeared in TheNew York Times, TheWashington Post, The Boston Globe, Science, Nature, and on National Public Radio, TheNew Yorker Radio Hour, and PBS NewsHour, among other outlets. She is currently at work on a book on science, technology, and the politics of ethics in the Obama administration.
Nelson serves on the board of directors of Data & Society, The Teagle Foundation, the Center for Research Libraries, and Brotherhood/Sister Sol, a Harlem-based youth development organization, and on the board for African American programs at Monticello.
Raised in Southern California, Nelson received her BA in 1994 from the University of California, San Diego, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She earned her PhD from New York University in 2003.
ABOUT THE ANDREW W. MELLON FOUNDATION
Founded in 1969, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation seeks to strengthen, promote, and defend the centrality of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse, fair, and democratic societies. To this end, its core programs support exemplary and inspiring institutions of higher education and culture. Additional information is available at mellon.org.