Research Week Keynote Speaker


Professor Ruha Benjamin

Ruha Benjamin is an assistant professor of African American studies at Princeton University, author of People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier (Stanford University Press), and 2016-17 fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Her work examines the social dimensions of science, technology, and medicine with a particular focus on the relationship between innovation and inequity. She earned her PhD in sociology from UC Berkeley, completed fellowships at UCLA’s Institute for Genetics and Society and Harvard's Science, Technology and Society Program, and has received grants and fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, and California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Her work is published in numerous journals including Science, Technology, and Human Values, Ethnicity & Health and Annals of the American Academy of Social and Political Science. Visit:




"Beyond Buzzwords: Innovation, Inequality, and Imagination in the 21st Century"

From precision medicine to predictive algorithms, science and technology seek to address a variety of human problems by producing data and tools to help us understand our world and ourselves. But without careful consideration of the social dimensions of innovation, we risk reinforcing longstanding forms of inequality and injustice, and even producing new forms of discrimination that are hidden behind a veneer of technological neutrality. In this talk, I examine a range of contemporary issues at the nexus of data and democracy—from national DNA databases across the globe to online targeted advertisements on your computer screen—so that we can think together about the social values embedded in these platforms and systems. My aim is to expand our collective imagination around what counts as relevant and meaningful to scholarship and public debate on Big Data so that a greater array of scholars and public contributions to the design of the world we inhabit.