People-Center for Human Rights Science - Carnegie Mellon University

Jay D. Aronson

Director, Center for Human Rights Science and Associate Professor, Department of History

Office: 246-B Baker Hall

Phone: 412-268-2887

Fax: 412-268-1910



Jay Aronson is the founder and director of the Center for Human Rights Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He is also an Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society in the History Department. His research and teaching focus is on the interactions of science, technology, law, and human rights in a variety of contexts. He recently completed a long-term study of the ethical, political, and social dimensions of post-conflict and post-disaster identification of the missing and disappeared, and been involved in various projects to improve the quality of civilian casualty recording and estimation in times of conflict. This work was funded by generous grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). Jay is currently being supported by Humanity United, MacArthur Foundation, and Oak Foundation to facilitate collaborations between technologists and human rights practitioners. The goal of these partnerships is to develop better tools and approaches for acquiring, authenticating, analyzing, and archiving human rights-related video and images. His work in this domain also explores the extent to which the democratization of human rights documentation (through the global spread of social media and mobile phones with cameras) is leading to an increase in accountability and the prevention of atrocities. Jay’s previous research focused on the development and use of forensic DNA identification in the American criminal justice system. His first book, entitled Genetic Witness: Science, Law, and Controversy in the Making of DNA Profiling (Rutgers University Press, 2007), examined the development of forensic DNA analysis in the American legal system. His next book, on the recovery, identification and memorialization of the victims of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, will be published by Harvard University Press in Fall 2016. Jay received his Ph.D. in History of Science and Technology from the University of Minnesota and was both a pre- and post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Robin Mejia

Statistics and Human Rights Program Manager and Special Faculty, Department of Statistics


Robin holds a special faculty appointment in the Department of Statistics and manages the Statistics and Human Rights Program at the Center for Human Rights Science. Before coming to Carnegie Mellon, Robin worked as both a journalist and statistician. As a journalist for more than a decade, she covered health and science stories for the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post Magazine, Wired, Science, CNN and other outlets. She uncovered problems at the FBI crime lab, wrote extensively about controversies in epidemiology, and reviewed the use of science technology in human rights investigations. Mejia's work has won several national journalism awards and been anthologized in the Best Technology Writing series. In 2010, Robin returned to school, earning an MPH in 2012 and PhD in biostatistics in 2016, both from UC Berkeley. Her current research seeks to understand the characteristics of child abductions during El Salvador’s civil war and, in collaboration with colleagues from the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, patterns of death reporting in Syrian conflict. Robin is also expanding the Center’s efforts to apply statistical methods to issues in law enforcement, forensic science, and criminal justice.

Enrique Piracés

Media and Human Rights Program Manager


Enrique manages the Media and Human Rights Program at the Center for Human Rights Science. His primary responsibilities are to serve as a liaison between the human rights community and researchers at Carnegie Mellon, and to ensure that the methods and tools developed at CMU can be effectively integrated into the workflows of human rights practitioners. He has been working at the intersection of human rights, science, and technological innovation for well over a decade, most recently as a visiting scholar at CHRS and previously as Vice President of the Human Rights Program at Benetech. His focus has been both the implications of the use of technology in the context of human rights as well as the opportunities that new scientific and technological developments open for NGOs and practitioners. He is an advocate for the use of Open Source and a believer in strong crypto as one of the building blocks for human rights documentation and journalistic work. His experience ranges from fact-finding and evidence gathering to data science and digital security. He is founder of RightsLab as well as co-founder of the Human Rights Technology Consortium.

Leslie Levine

Director, Marianna Dietrich College of Humanities & Social Sciences Research Office

Phone: 412-268-8722


Leslie handles all funding-related matters for the Center.

Anna M. Houck

Business Manager, Office of the Dean, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Phone: 412-268-6991

Fax: 412-268-5288


Anna handles all financial and administrative matters for the Center

Karen Weingartner

Administrative Coordinator, Office of the Dean, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Phone: 412-268-9343


Karen provides administrative support for the Center, including meeting and event planning, reimbursements, and payments.