Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Deputy Director Alondra Nelson will serve the final days at her post in the White House this week.
Nelson – the first woman of color to lead OSTP – announced on Sunday that she is departing the office to return to academia.
“This is my last week @WHOSTP,” Nelson wrote in a Feb. 5 Twitter thread. “It’s been the honor of my life to serve @POTUS, @VP, and the American public, and advance this Administration’s distinct vision for science, technology and innovation that expands opportunity, well being, rights and equity.”
President Joe Biden initially appointed Nelson to the new position of OSTP deputy director for science and society in 2021, but she stepped up to serve as acting director of the entire office for eight months in 2022 after the resignation of Eric Lander amid reports of bullying and a hostile work environment.
The Senate confirmed Arati Prabhakar as OSTP director in September 2022, and Nelson returned to her leadership position on the science and society team. In that job, she oversaw the administration’s efforts on ethical artificial intelligence (AI), research integrity, and greater transparency in science.
Nelson’s team was a driving force behind the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights. That policy document lays out principles for design, use and deployment of automated systems, focusing on a number of principles including fighting algorithmic discrimination, data privacy, notice and explanation of how systems work, and the right to human alternatives.
Nelson is leaving the White House on Feb. 10 after two years to return to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., as a professor in the School of Social Sciences.
“It was an honor to be asked at a critical moment for our nation to build a team that considers the social implications of science and technology more centrally in U.S. policy, as a necessary component of American innovation,” Nelson wrote on Twitter.
She continued, adding, “I’m proud of what’s been accomplished over the last two years under the leadership of a President with boundless optimism for our ‘possibilities,’ and a hard-wired belief in equity and fairness. I return to my work @the_IAS grateful to have been a part of the Biden-Harris team.”