Cornell Bowers College of Computing and Information Science
A color photo of a woman, Sarah Riley, smiling for a photo


Riley wins Horowitz Foundation Award

August 7, 2023

Sarah Riley, a doctoral student in the field of information science, has received a 2023 Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy Award for her research into algorithmic pretrial risk assessments.

Riley, who studies municipal algorithmic systems, race, racism, and inequality, is one of 25 scholars whose 2022 application was selected. The Foundation received more than 550 applications.

Her project, “Pretrial Risk Assessments as Organizational Processes” focuses on the administration of pretrial risk assessments in Virginia. These risk assessments are algorithmic tools that make recommendations as to whether a defendant should be released or detained until trial. She uses a mixed-methods approach to understand how human discretion in the pretrial process –particularly on the part of pretrial officers –affects risk scores, pretrial detention decisions, and life outcomes for accused people.

Riley is expected to receive her doctoral degree from Cornell in August. This fall, she will attend Stanford University as an IDEAL Provostial Fellow. The three-year program is designed to support the work of early-career researchers who will lead the next generation of scholarship in race and ethnicity, according to Stanford.

Riley holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Amherst College and a master’s of public policy from the University of California, Berkeley. She is advised by Karen Levy, associate professor of information science and associate member of the faculty of Cornell Law School, Solon Barocas, adjunct assistant professor of information science, and Martin Wells, the Charles A. Alexander Professor of Statistical Sciences with additional appointments in the ILR School, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell Law School and Weill Cornell Medicine.