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November 15-17, 2021
Omni NashvilleNashville, TN

Catherine "Rina" Bliss
Social Justice Advocate, Sociologist, Author at RUTGERS UNIVERSITY & Author of upcoming book HACKING INTELLIGENCE


Catherine “Rina” Bliss is a professor of Sociology at Rutgers University and author of the award-winning Race Decoded: The Genomic Fight for Social Justice (Stanford University Press) and Social by Nature: The Promise and Peril of Sociogenomics (Stanford University Press). She is an expert on the social significance of emerging genetic sciences, such as human genomics, sociogenomics, and human gene editing. Rina is a member of the Human Genome Synthesis Project known as “GP-Write,” as well as the Finding Your Roots Genetics and Genealogy Project. She is an affiliate of UCSF and the UC Berkeley Center for Social Medicine, and is a consultant to public institutions like the California Academy of Sciences, Exploratorium, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Race Decoded has been described in the international media as “a well-researched, fascinating, and meticulous study”…“a first-rate analysis”…“a cogent exposition”…and…“an excellent teaching opportunity.” It is the first book to delve into the world of elite genomic science, to reveal how leaders of the global human genome projects have been grappling with questions of identity and social change in their efforts to understand a new science of race.

Social by Nature has been heralded as “a brilliant book…one you should read if you care about what drives academic research, scientific racism or genetic futurism”…“a powerful call for researchers to approach their work in more socially responsible ways”…and…“a must-read for anyone who wants to better understand the scholarship that impacts how we see ourselves and our society.” It investigates the emerging sociogenomic sciences—the new genopolitics (are you genetically liberal or conservative?), genoeconomics (are you innately predisposed to debt or entrepreneurship?), and genosociology (were you born to get a PhD or a life sentence in prison?)—to tell us how this science is changing societal notions of difference, such as race, gender, and sexuality, and how it is affecting extant inequalities in health and medicine, education, and criminal justice.

Rina’s latest work explores the new science of neuro-sculpting made possible by the gene editing tool CRISPR, advances in sociogenomics and human-computer interaction, and more. For centuries, humans have looked to science to boost brains and productivity. But thanks to emerging technologies, we can now go straight to our gray matter to improve ourselves. This research examines how neuro-sculpting stands to transform our lives, from family and parenting to education, work, and beyond.  

Rina speaks to audiences all over the world about the politics of health, technology, education, and equality in the twenty-first century, presenting at organizations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, EU European Molecular Biology Lab, National Academy of Science, National Institutes of Health, National Human Genome Research Institute, and Hastings Center. Her research has featured in international news media like East Asia Daily, German Public Broadcasting, La Presse, National Swedish Radio, NPR, and the New York Times, as well as radio and television programs like Bill Nye Saves the World, Radiolab, and TED. Her work has been reported and published in a wide array of magazines and journals, such as the Chronicle of Higher Education, Nature, Science, Scientific American, Technology Review, Wired, American Sociological Review, Sociology, and The Hastings Center Report. 

Rina holds a PhD in Sociology from the New School for Social Research, has held Postdoctoral Fellowships at Brown University BioMed and the Cogut Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences, and has received grants and fellowships from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Science Foundation, University of California Basic, Clinical, and Translational Sciences Program, and University of California Center for New Racial Studies, among others.

Agenda Sessions