Christopher Nelson

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Senior Political Scientist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office

Education

Ph.D. and M.A. in political science, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; B.A. in political science, University of Minnesota

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email media@rand.org.

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Overview

Christopher Nelson is a senior political scientist at RAND and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He has over 20 years of experience as a policy analyst and evaluator. His work often involves leading multi-disciplinary teams in designing systems for performance measurement, system improvement, and organizational learning.

Nelson has worked in a wide range of policy areas, including public health, healthcare, workplace safety, education, and others. For instance, he has helped agencies in the U.S. and European Union develop and implement new systems for measuring state/local capacity to respond to bioterrorism attacks, infectious disease outbreaks, and other health emergencies. His teams have also developed user-friendly game-based tools for improving emergency response capabilities in hospitals, health departments, and community-level healthcare coalitions. Nelson also was founding director of the RAND Center for Health and Safety in the Workplace and, prior to coming to RAND, authored What's Public About Charter Schools: Lessons Learned About Choice and Accountability (Corwin Press, 2002) and numerous papers and technical reports on charter schools reforms in the U.S.

Previously Nelson held positions on the research staff of the Illinois state legislature, Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz School of Public Policy and Management, and the Western Michigan University Evaluation Center. Nelson holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Previous Positions

Visiting Faculty, Heinz School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie Mellon University

Recent Projects

  • Analytical support for the National Health Security Strategy
  • Performance measurement tools for public health emergency preparedness and response
  • Infrastructure standards for mass antibiotic dispensing
  • A New Governance and Management System for the University California Health System.
  • Organizing the Healthcare System for High Consequence Infectious Diseases.

Selected Publications

Dubowitz T, T Orleans, C Nelson, J Sloan, L May., "Creating Healthier, More Equitable Communities By Improving Governance And Policy," Health Affairs, 35(11):1970-1975, 2016

Nelson C, E Beckjord, D Dausey, E Chan, N Lurie, D Lotstein, "How Can We Strengthen the Evidence Base for Public Health Emergency Preparedness?" Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, 2(4), 2008

Christopher Nelson et al., "Assessing Public Health Emergency Preparedness: Concepts, Tools, and Challenges," Annual Review of Public Health, 28, 2007

Christopher Nelson et al., "Conceptualizing and Defining Public Health Emergency Preparedness," American Journal of Public Health, 97, 2007

N. Lurie et al., "Public Health Preparedness: Evolution or Revolution?" Health Affairs, 25(4), 2006

John Mendeloff et al., Small Businesses and Workplace Fatality Risk: An Exploratory Analysis, RAND Corporation (TR-371), 2006

Ranney J, C Nelson, & M Coplen, "The Efficacy of Behavior-based Safety in the U.S. Railroad Industry: Evidence from Amtrak-Chicago," Human Factors in Organizational Design and Management, 8, 2005

Ranney J, C Nelson, "The Impacts of Participatory Safety Rules Revision in the U.S. Railroad Industry: An Exploratory Assessment," Transportation Research Record, (1899):156-163, 2004

Honors & Awards

  • Thomas Lord Distinguished Scholar, RAND Institute for Civil Justice

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Los Angeles Times; United Press International

Commentary: San Diego Union-Tribune

Commentary

  • Paramedics pushing a patient on a gurney into a hospital

    Saving Lives After Tragedy

    Natural and man-made mass-casualty incidents are a growing threat. Evaluating successes and shortcomings after each crisis can contribute to the design and implementation of robust and resilient response systems and ensure the best possible outcomes for individuals and impacted communities.

    Dec 14, 2015 U.S. News & World Report

  • Navigating Research on Alternative Schools

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Sep 19, 2004 San Diego Union-Tribune

Publications