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Jonathan Mayer, technology policy expert, wins NSF CAREER award

By Julia Schwarz

Jonathan Mayer, an expert in technology policy, has received the National Science Foundation’s CAREER award, a top honor for early-career faculty.

Jonathan Mayer

Jonathan Mayer. Photo by David Kelly Crow. 

The NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development Program supports early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

Mayer is an assistant professor of computer science with a joint appointment in the School for Public and International Affairs. He studies the intersection of technology and law, with emphasis on national security, criminal procedure and consumer privacy. He is also an associated faculty member at the Center for Information Technology Policy.

The award provides $600,000 in funding over five years and will support Mayer’s research related to the intersection of human-computer interaction and antitrust law. His research will look specifically at user interfaces that are designed to influence consumer behavior in order to limit competition.

Recently, legislators and regulators worldwide have been scrutinizing businesses that use this type of design, called online choice architecture. Mayer’s work will focus on developing a science of online choice architecture audits, using randomized controlled trials that vary user interface elements in real-world settings, pinpointing a range of effects that will provide empirical evidence for antitrust policymakers. 

Mayer joined the Princeton faculty in 2018, after serving as the technology law and policy advisor to then United States Senator Kamala Harris and as the Chief Technologist of the Federal Communications Commission Enforcement Bureau. He holds a doctorate in computer science from Stanford University, a law degree from Stanford Law School, and a bachelor’s degree from Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs.


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