Carnegie Mellon University
April 22, 2015

Carnegie Mellon Professor Alessandro Acquisti Awarded Fellowship from Carnegie Corporation of New York

Renowned Privacy Researcher One of Only 32 Recipients of Prestigious Honor

By Ken Walters / 312-268-1151 /

Carnegie Mellon University Professor Alessandro Acquisti was named today to the inaugural class of the Andrew Carnegie Fellows by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Acquisti is one of only 32 recipients of the fellowship and was selected from more than 300 nominees.

Alessandro AcquistiA noted economist and privacy researcher, Acquisti’s fellowship will investigate the impact of the data economy on societal welfare and the distribution of wealth, focusing on how the erosion of privacy and the rise of “big data” may affect economic growth, equality and discrimination.

“I’m pleased to be named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow and excited to have the opportunity to further explore the economic effects of the data economy through this fellowship,” said Acquisti, professor of information technology and public policy at CMU’s Heinz College, and the director of the Peex (Privacy Economics Experiments) lab at CMU. “The expanding collection, analysis, and use of large amounts of individuals’ data will likely bring about both positive and negative consequences for different stakeholders, and my research will explore those impacts. I thank the Carnegie Corporation for this wonderful honor.”

Acquisti’s research investigates the economics and behavioral economics of privacy, including privacy in online social networks. Acquisti has been the recipient of the PET Award for Outstanding Research in Privacy Enhancing Technologies, the IBM Best Academic Privacy Faculty Award, the Heinz College School of Information Teaching Excellence Award, and numerous Best Paper awards. His studies have been published in leading journals across diverse disciplines, including economics, information systems, psychology, computer science and marketing. Acquisti’s 2009 study on the predictability of social security numbers received international media attention. Two years after the study, the Social Security Administration changed the assignment scheme of Social Security numbers.

“Alessandro’s groundbreaking research on privacy and its impact on society are representative of the kind of work you will see at the Heinz College,” said Ramayya Krishnan, dean of the Heinz College. “I am very pleased that he has been named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow by the prestigious Carnegie Corporation of New York.”

Carnegie Corporation is awarding up to $200,000 to each fellow, which will enable them to devote time to their research and writing. The fellowship program provides support for scholars in the social sciences and humanities and aims to provide new perspectives on the program’s overarching theme for 2015: Current and Future Challenges to U.S. Democracy and International Order. Winning proposals address issues including policing and race, big data and privacy, the impact of the aging population and the safety of generic drugs, among other topics. The corporation will award a total of $6.4 million to the inaugural class.

Find out more about the Andrew Carnegie Fellows.