Prof. Francis Shen Wins American Law Institute’s Early Career Scholars Medal

March 8, 2021

The American Law Institute (ALI) has announced that Professor Francis X. Shen will receive its Early Career Scholars Medal. The award is presented every other year to one or two outstanding early-career law professors whose work has the potential to influence improvements in the law. 

“Francis has been a pioneer in establishing the interdisciplinary field of law and neuroscience,” said U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit Judge Diane P. Wood, who chaired ALI’s selection committee for the award. “His research has helped lead to the better administration of justice in areas such as criminal and elder law, and it has been essential in developing tools to improve the legal system through the responsible use of neuroscientific evidence and neurotechnology.”

“Francis Shen is an outstanding scholar, and the ALI has made a brilliant choice in recognizing him with this well-deserved award,” said Garry W. Jenkins, Dean and William S. Pattee Professor of Law. “Francis’s work on law and neuroscience is path-breaking and making critically important contributions to our understanding of law in ways that—can, should, and do —directly affect public policy.”

This is the third time that a Minnesota Law professor has received the prestigious honor, more than any other law school faculty in the nation. The other two Minnesota Law professors who received the medal are Professor Daniel Schwarcz (2017) and Professor Amy B. Monahan (2013). Just 12 medals in total have been bestowed since the award’s inception in 2011.

Shen’s scholarship focuses on empirical and interdisciplinary research at the intersection of law and the brain sciences. He is co-author of the first law coursebook on law and neuroscience (Aspen Publishers, 2014), and has explored the implications of cognitive neuroscience for criminal law, tort, and legislation in the United States. His additional research areas of focus are criminal law and crime policy, and education law and policy.

His research has been published in a variety of outlets in law, political science, psychology, and education, and he has made more than 50 professional presentations. He co-authored two books, The Education Mayor (Georgetown, 2007) and The Casualty Gap (Oxford, 2010), and has authored or co-authored many articles and book chapters.

Professor Ashley S. Deeks of the University of Virginia School of Law also is receiving the medal this year.

ALI normally presents the Early Career Scholar Medal to the recipients at an Annual Meeting. Since the 2021 Annual Meeting will be held virtually this year, Professors Shen and Deeks will receive their medals at a future in-person Annual Meeting. 

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