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