Shobita Parthasarathy

Professor of Public Policy; Director, Science, Technology, and Public Policy program; Professor of Women's and Gender Studies (by courtesy)

Shobita Parthasarathy is Professor of Public Policy and Women's and Gender Studies, and co-founder and director of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program, at  University of Michigan. She studies the political economy of innovation and innovation policy with a focus on equity as well as the politics of evidence and expertise in policymaking, in comparative and international perspective.

A science and technology studies scholar, Professor Parthasarathy is the author of numerous articles and two books. Her second book, Patent Politics: Life Forms, Markets, and the Public Interest in the United States and Europe, (University of Chicago Press, 2017) won the 2018 Robert K. Merton Prize from the American Sociological Association. Her first book, Building Genetic Medicine: Breast Cancer, Technology, and the Comparative Politics of Health Care (MIT Press, 2007) helped to inform the 2013 US Supreme Court case over gene patents. Parthasarathy is currently working on two books. The first examines why technological innovation has failed so many and what we can do about it, and the second focuses on the politics of inclusive innovation initiatives in India. She also directs University of Michigan’s Technology Assessment Project, which recently published a report on the implications of large language models, a type of generative artificial intelligence.

To support her research, Prof. Parthasarathy has received fellowships and grants from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition, and Tax Law (Germany), the American Bar Foundation, the Wellcome Trust (UK), the National Science Foundation, Sloan Foundation, the Public Interest Technology University Network, Economic Security Project, and various programs at the University of Michigan. In 2021 she received the Faculty Recognition Award from University of Michigan, given to “mid-career faculty members who have demonstrated remarkable contributions to the university” in their research, teaching and service to the university and broader community. 

Prof. Parthasarathy is committed to bringing academic insights to a variety of audiences. In this spirit, she co-hosts The Received Wisdom, a podcast on science, technology, and society. She regularly writes opinion pieces and is quoted in the media. She provides expert advice to civil society groups, legislators, advisory committees, and others involved in policymaking. For example, she is a non-resident fellow of the Center for Democracy and Technology and has served on the Advisory Board for the Community Technology Collective. She also offers her insights, on how to develop and govern science and technology in ethically and socially responsible ways, to technical communities. This includes teaching graduate and undergraduate students across a wide variety of fields, including public policy, the natural and physical sciences, and engineering. She has created an open online course on Justice and Equity in Technology Policy, available to learners across the world.

Earlier in her career, Prof. Parthasarathy held postdoctoral fellowships at Northwestern University, the University of California—Los Angeles, and University of Cambridge. She has also worked for the National Academy of Sciences, RAND, Center for Science in the Public Interest, and the White House Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments. She holds Masters and PhD degrees in Science and Technology Studies from Cornell University and a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Chicago.