I School Professor Jenna Burrell will be joining Data & Society in August 2021 as Director of Research on a one-year rotation through August 2022.
Data & Society is an independent nonprofit research organization that studies the social implications of data-centric technologies and automation. The organization produces original research on topics including AI and automation, the impact of technology on labor and health, and online disinformation.
Burrell, who was promoted to full professor at the I School this Spring, will be taking a temporary leave from the School to fill the Director of Research role at Data & Society, which is designed rotationally to bring senior, tenured academics into the institute for a dedicated period of time. This design takes advantage of academy norms in order to deepen the Data & Society’s interdisciplinary commitments by hosting Directors from different fields and expanding their networks in new disciplinary directions.
“I’m excited to join the team at Data & Society to learn much more about making research on the social implications of technology publicly accessible and impactful in the world,” said Professor Burrell. “I hope to share my deep knowledge of research methods and the inner workings of the high technology industry.”
Professor Burrell’s research focuses on how marginalized communities adapt digital technologies to meet their needs and to pursue their goals and ideals. She is the co-director of the Algorithmic Fairness and Opacity Group (AFOG) which brings together faculty and students from across the UC Berkeley campus to facilitate research on how algorithmic systems can be designed, used, or regulated to support more equitable and just societies. She is the author of Invisible Users: Youth in the Internet Cafes of Urban Ghana (MIT Press) and is currently working on a second book about rural communities that host critical Internet infrastructure such as fiber optic cables and data centers. She earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from the London School of Economics and a BA in Computer Science from Cornell University.
Data & Society has other connections to the I School as well, I School alumna danah boyd (Ph.D. ’08) is the founder and president of the organization. boyd’s research is focused on making certain that society has a nuanced understanding of the relationship between technology and society, especially as issues of inequity and bias emerge.