Christopher Nelson

Christopher Nelson
Senior Political Scientist; Professor of Policy Analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School


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

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Christopher Nelson is a senior political scientist at RAND and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He has over 30 years of experience as a policy analyst and evaluator. As a practicing policy analyst and evaluator, most of his work has focused on problem-solving for specific decisionmakers and end users; much of it at the intersection of evaluation and learning, systems, and governance.   

Nelson has worked in a wide range of policy areas, including public health, health care, workplace safety, education, and others. For instance, he has helped agencies in the United States 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 health care coalitions. Nelson also was founding director of the RAND Center for Health and Safety in the Workplace. Prior to coming to RAND, he 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 United States.

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. He holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.    

Selected Publications

Stoto M, C Nelson, R Piltch-Loeb, LN Mayigane, F Copper, S Chungong., "Getting the most from after action reviews to improve global health security. ," Globalization and Health, 15(58), 2019

Stoto M, C Nelson, E Savoia, I Ljungqvist, M Ciotti., "Public Health Preparedness Logic Model: Assessing Preparedness for Cross-border Threats in the European Region. ," Health Security, 15(5), 2006

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

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), 2004

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

Nelson C, L Martin, D Yeng, D Bugliari., "Has COVID-19 changed how people think about the drivers of health? If so, does it matter? ," Frontiers in Health Services, 23, 2022


Spanish; Portuguese

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Los Angeles Times; United Press International

Commentary: San Diego Union-Tribune