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Collage of women of color in science(L to R) Dr. Marie Bernard, Dr. Alondra Nelson, and Dr. Janine Clayton.

Dr. Alondra Nelson

On January 16, 2019, Dr. Alondra Nelson visited the NIH. She met with the Women of Color Committee and gave a lecture at the Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series (WALS) on The Social Life of DNA, also the title of her 2016 book. She spoke on the popularity of genealogy and genetic testing among African Americans and how these DNA-based techniques have expanded beyond personal hobbies to involve race, the history of slavery, cultural ancestry, and legal claims for reparations.

Dr. Nelson is professor of sociology at Columbia University, where she has served as the inaugural Dean of Social Science and the director of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality. She was previously on the faculty of Yale University and received its Poorvu Award for interdisciplinary teaching excellence. She is president of the Social Science Research Council, an organization that has been dedicated to the advancement of social research for the public good for more than nine decades. A sociologist widely known for her work on the intersections of science, technology, and social inequality, her books include The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome, which is a finalist for the 2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Nonfiction, and will soon be available in an Arabic translation, and Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination, which was recognized with several awards and has been translated into French. Her publications also include Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History (with Keith Wailoo and Catherine Lee) and Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life (with Thuy Linh Tu).

Dr. Nelson is chair of the American Sociological Association Section on Science, Knowledge and Technology and an elected member of the Sociological Research Association. Her research has been supported by the Ford Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.

This page last updated: March 21, 2019

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