Sociologist, author Alondra Nelson to deliver Bryant lecture

Alondra Nelson, Ph.D.

Alondra Nelson, Ph.D., professor of sociology at Columbia University, will deliver the Frank Bryant Jr., M.D., Memorial Distinguished Lecture on the implications of technological advancements in DNA testing.

The lecture, free and open to the public, is at noon, Tuesday, March 19, in Holly Auditorium. A reception and book signing will follow the lecture.

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A sociologist, Dr. Nelson explores the intersection of science, technology, medicine and social inequality. She has authored several acclaimed books, including most recently The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome.

Her Bryant lecture, titled “Racial Reconciliation, Institutional Morality and the Social Life of DNA,” will focus on advancements in DNA testing and the implications for society. These tests are principally sought to provide genealogical information, but increasingly the results are being marshaled into a wider range of social ventures, including the politics of remembrance and reconciliation. Dr. Nelson will focus on the example of the “GU 272” – nearly 300 enslaved men and women owned by Georgetown University and sold to Southern plantations in 1838 to secure the Jesuit institution’s solvency. Today, DNA analysis is being put to use to repair this historic injury.

The Bryant lecture is sponsored by the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics
and the Office for Inclusion and Diversity.

The lecture is named for Frank Bryant Jr., M.D., a much-loved family physician and community leader in San Antonio until his death in 1999. Among the first African American students to graduate from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Dr. Bryant became an important advocate for the medically underserved living in the East Side neighborhoods of San Antonio.

Dr. Bryant was co-founder and the first medical director of the Ella Austin Health Clinic, and he co-developed the East San Antonio Medical Center. He served as the first African American president of the Bexar County Medical Society and the first president of the C.A. Whittier Medical Society.

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