2021-22 STS Director’s Award for Advancing Social Justice in Science, Technology, and Medicine

Photos of Frank Vito Mondelli and Nina Dewi Toft Djanegara

This year’s $500 award is split between two excellent STS graduate students:

Frank Vito Mondelli has advocated for disability rights throughout his time at Stanford. Frank’s dissertation focuses on the history of assistive technology and Deaf culture in Japan. Ultimately, the dissertation advocates for a more inclusive society through broadening definitions of musical and sensory experience. Starting in 2017, Frank became involved in disability advocacy across campus, serving on boards, committees, and other initiatives to help establish a disability studies minor, create a disability resources website on Stanford’s site, and most of all, create a permanent, University-funded disability community center on campus. Frank’s work as Co-Director of Disability Advocacy in the ASSU Executive Board from 2018 to 2019 helped make this happen. Frank also spearheaded Stanford’s first academic conference on disability studies, which drew visitors from Japan, Canada, India, and elsewhere and featured a keynote from disability studies scholar Elizabeth Ellcessor. Frank brought all this and more to his students in STS 1, where he served as TA in 2020-21 and as head TA in 2021-22. On top of everything else, Frank earned the STS Graduate Certificate.

Nina Dewi Toft Djanegara, a 5th-year PhD student in Anthropology, also earned the STS Graduate Certificate. Nina’s dissertation investigates how biometric technologies such as fingerprinting and facial recognition are applied to border enforcement in the United States. In particular, she focuses on how immigrants and asylum seekers are disproportionately affected by state surveillance, and how this relates to facial recognition algorithms’ inability to accurately identify darker-skinned faces. Starting in 2020, Nina was among the lead organizers of the Technology & Racial Equity Initiative at the Center for Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity (CCSRE). In 2022, she was promoted to Associate Director of the Initiative. Nina brings her research and other knowledge to a broader public, by writing about issues related to technology and social justice. For example, she published an opinion piece on how the U.S. military used the War on Terror as a laboratory for developing its biometrics program, at the expense of Afghani and Iraqi citizens. Most recently, Nina received a grant from the National Association of Science Writers for an investigative piece about how women of color aren’t given due coverage in science reporting.

Please join me in congratulating Frank and Nina on their well-earned award!


Prof. Paul N. Edwards
Director, Program on Science, Technology & Society