Francis Shen

  • Professor of Law
  • Solly Robbins Distinguished Research Fellow
446 Mondale Hall

Degrees

  • University of Chicago, B.A.
  • Harvard Law School, J.D.
  • Harvard University, Ph.D.

Expertise

  • American Political System
  • Criminal Law
  • Empirical Legal Studies
  • Law & Neuroscience
  • Medicine & Law
  • Science & Law

Professor Francis X. Shen is an expert at the intersection of law and neuroscience, as well as law and artificial intelligence. He is a Member of the Faculty of the UMN Graduate Program in Neuroscience, and Co-Chair of the UMN Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment & the Life Sciences. He directs the Shen Neurolaw Lab, whose motto is: Every story is a brain story.

Dr. Shen is building the new field of law and neuroscience, and conducts empirical, legal, and ethical research to examine how insights from neuroscience and artificial intelligence can make the legal system more just and effective. He also explores the ethical, legal, and social implications of advances in neurotechnology. He has co-authored 4 books, including the first Law and Neuroscience casebook (Aspen, with Jones and Schall), with a 5th book under contract with MIT Press / Penguin Random House. In 2021, he was awarded the Early Career Scholars Medal by the American Law Institute, one of two medals awarded every other year by the ALI. In announcing the award, the ALI recognized Francis as “a pioneer in establishing the interdisciplinary field of law and neuroscience.”

In the classroom, Professor Shen has taught Criminal Law, Evidence, Introduction to American Law, Law & Neuroscience, Law & Artificial Intelligence, and Education Law. He has provided judicial education and training in programs sponsored by organizations such as the Federal Judicial Center, National Judicial College, American Bar Association, National Association of State Judicial Educators, American Judges Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

A prodigious fundraiser, Dr. Shen’s work has been supported by the NIH, NSF, multiple foundations, and private philanthropy. He currently co-leads two NIH BRAIN Initiative grants, one on portable MRI and one on community engagement in neuroimaging research. He is also the Founding Director of the Dana Foundation Career Network on Neuroscience & Society (neuroXcareers.org).

Professor Shen is active in many areas of law and neuroscience. He founded and directs the Law & Neuroscience Works in Progress Workshop for younger scholars, he serves pro bono as Chief Innovation Officer of the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at MGH. He is also a member of the Teaching Faculty of the Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics, where he has taught Law, Ethics & Neuroscience and Bioethics and Artificial Intelligence.

Professor Shen joined the faculty as an associate professor in 2012. He previously served as Executive Director of Education and Outreach for the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience. 

Professor Shen completed his B.A. in economics and English at the University of Chicago in 2000, his J.D. at Harvard Law School in 2006, and his Ph.D. in government and social policy at Harvard University and the Kennedy School of Government in 2008. During graduate school he was a doctoral fellow in the Harvard University Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality & Social Policy, supported by the National Science Foundation. From 2007-09, he was a teaching fellow, lecturer, and assistant director of undergraduate studies in the Harvard Department of Government and received five Certificates of Distinction for Excellence in Teaching from Harvard's Derek Bok Center.

In 2009 he joined the MacArthur Foundation Law and Neuroscience Project, at the University of California Santa Barbara, as a post-doctoral research fellow. In 2010-11 he became associate director of the Project and a visiting scholar at Vanderbilt Law School. In 2011-12 he was a visiting assistant professor at Tulane University Law School and The Murphy Institute.

Criminal Law


Law and Neuroscience


Introduction to American Law and Legal Reasoning


Books

Brain Science for Lawyers, Judges, and Policymakers (Oxford University Press, 2024)
(with
Owen D. Jones
,
Jeffrey D. Schall
,
Morris B. Hoffman
and
Anthony D. Wagner
)
Law and Neuroscience (Aspen Publishers, 2d ed., 2021) (coursebook)
(with
Owen D. Jones
and
Jeffrey Schall
)
Law and Neuroscience (Aspen Publishers, 1st ed., 2014) (coursebook)
(with
Owen D. Jones
and
Jeffrey Schall
)
The Casualty Gap: The Causes and Consequences of American Wartime Inequalities (Oxford University Press, 2010)
(with
Douglas L. Kriner
)
The Education Mayor: Improving America's Schools (Georgetown University Press, 2007)
(with
Kenneth K. Wong
,
Dorothea Anagnostopoulos
and
Stacey A. Rutledge
)

Journal Articles

Returning Individual Research Results from Digital Phenotyping in Psychiatry, American Journal of Bioethics (published online May 8, 2023) (lead author with 27 co-authors)
An Ethics Checklist for Digital Health Research in Psychiatry: Viewpoint, 24(2) Journal of Medical Internet Research e31146 (2022)
(with
Benjamin C. Silverman
,
Patrick Monette
,
Sara Kimble
,
Scott L. Rauch
and
Justin T. Baker
)
Justice for Emerging Adults After Jones: The Rapidly Developing Use of Neuroscience to Extend Eighth Amendment Miller Protections to Defendants Ages 18 and Older, 97:30 New York University Law Review Online 101 (2022) (lead author with others)
Emerging Ethical Issues Raised by Highly Portable MRI Research in Remote and Resource-limited International Settings, 238 NeuroImage (2021)
(with
Supriya Bhavnani
,
Sean Deoni
,
Jed T. Elison
,
Damien Fair
,
Michael Garwood
,
Michael S. Gee
,
Sairam Geethanath
,
Kendrick Kay
,
Kevin O. Lim
,
Georgia Lockwood Estrin
,
Monica Luciana
,
David Peloquin
,
Karen Rommelfanger
,
Nicoline Schiess
,
Khan Siddiqui
,
Efraín Torres
and
J. Thomas Vaughan
)
Quasi-Professional Negligence: A New Standard of Care for Volunteer Youth Sports Coaches, 20 Virginia Sports and Entertainment Law Journal 127 (2021)
(with
Warren Cormack
,
Joseph Graen
and
Jennifer Novo
)
Teaching Law and Artificial Intelligence, 22 Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology 23 (2021)
(with
Brendan Johnson
)
Toward a Definition of “Neurolaw”, 15 University of St. Thomas Journal of Law & Public Policy 174 (2021)
Aging Judges, 81 Ohio State Law Journal 235 (2020)
Ethical Issues Posed by Field Research Using Highly Portable and Cloud-Enabled Neuroimaging, 105 Neuron 771-775 (2020)
(with
Ramon Gilberto Gonzalez
and
Michael Garwood
)
Litigation Risks Despite Guideline Adherence for Acute Spinal Cord Injury: Time Is Spine, 49(5) Neurosurgical Focus E17 (2020)
(with
Daniel Rafter
,
Ranveer Vasdev
,
Duncan Hurrelbrink
,
Mark Gormley III
,
Tabitha Chettupally
and
Uzma Samadani
)
The American Public Is Ready to Accept Human-Animal Chimera Research, 15 Stem Cell Reports 804 (2020)
(with
Andrew T. Crane
,
Jennifer L. Brown
,
Warren Cormack
,
Mercedes Ruiz-Estevez
,
Joseph P. Voth
,
Tsutomu Sawai
,
Taichi Hatta
,
Misao Fujita
and
Walter C. Low
)
The Intersectionality of Age and Gender on the Bench: Are Younger Female Judges Harsher with Serious Crimes?, 40 Columbia Journal of Gender and Law 128 (2020)
(with
Morris B. Hoffman
,
Vijeth Iyengar
and
Frank Krueger
)
Concise Review: Human‐Animal Neurological Chimeras: Humanized Animals or Human Cells in an Animal?, 37 Stem Cells 444 (2019)
(with
Andrew T. Crane
,
Joseph P. Voth
and
Walter C. Low
)
Neuroscience, Artificial Intelligence, and the Case Against Solitary Confinement, 21 Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law 937 (2019)
The Failure of Youth Sports Concussion Laws and the Limits of Legislating Health Education, 19 Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law & Ethics 1 (2019)
(with
Sydney Diekmann
,
Christine Egan
and
Carly Rasmussen
)
Are Youth Sports Concussion Statutes Working?, 56 Duquesne Law Review 7 (2018)
Decoding Guilty Minds: How Jurors Attribute Knowledge and Guilt, 71 Vanderbilt Law Review 241 (2018)
(with
Matthew R. Ginther
,
Richard J. Bonnie
,
Morris B. Hoffman
,
Owen D. Jones
and
Kenneth W. Simons
)
How Dangerous Are Youth Sports for the Brain: A Review of the Evidence, 7 Berkeley Journal of Entertainment and Sports Law 67 (2018)
(with
Carly Rasmussen
,
Sydney Diekmann
,
Christine Egan
and
Tyler Johnson
)
Minority Mens Rea: Racial Bias and Criminal Mental States, 68 Hastings Law Journal 1007 (2017)
The Limited Effect of Electroencephalography Memory Recognition Evidence on Assessments of Defendant Credibility, Journal of Law and the Biosciences (2017)
(with
Emily Twedell
,
Caitlin Opperman
,
Jordan Dean Scott Krieg
,
Mikaela Brandt-Fontaine
,
Joshua Panduro Preston
,
Jaleh McTeigue
,
Alina Yasis
and
Morgan Carlson
)
Conscription, Inequality, and Partisan Support for War, 60 Journal of Conflict Resolution 1419 (2016)
(with
Douglas L. Kriner
)
Invisible Inequality: The Two Americas of Military Sacrifice, 46 University of Memphis Law Review 545 (2016)
(with
Douglas L. Kriner
)
Law and Neuroscience 2.0, 48 Arizona State Law Journal 1043 (2016)
Neurolegislation: How U.S. Legislators Are Using Brain Science, 29 Harvard Journal of Law & Technology 495 (2016)
Neuroscientific Evidence as Instant Replay, 3 Journal of Law and the Biosciences 343 (2016)
Parsing the Behavioral and Brain Mechanisms of Third-Party Punishment, 36 Journal of Neuroscience 9420 (2016)
(with
Matthew R. Ginther
,
Richard J. Bonnie
,
Morris B. Hoffman
,
Kenneth W. Simons
,
Owen D. Jones
and
René Marois
)
The Legal Implications of Detecting Alzheimer’s Disease Earlier, 18 AMA Journal of Ethics 1207 (2016)
(with
Joshua Preston
,
Jaleh McTeigue
,
Caitlin Opperman
,
Jordan Krieg
,
Mikaela Brandt-Fontaine
and
Alina Yasis
)
The Overlooked History of Neurolaw, 85 Fordham Law Review 667 (2016)
Red States, Blue States, and Brain States Issue Framing, Partisanship, and the Future of Neurolaw in the United States, 658 The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 86 (2015) 
(with
Dena M. Gromet
)
Reassessing American Casualty Sensitivity: The Mediating Influence of Inequality, 58 Journal of Conflict Resolution 1174 (2014)
(with
Douglas L. Kriner
)
Responding to War on Capitol Hill: Battlefield Casualties, Congressional Response, and Public Support for the War in Iraq, 58 American Journal of Political Science 157 (2014)
(with
Douglas L. Kriner
)
Sentencing Enhancement and the Crime Victim's Brain, 46 Loyola University Chicago Law Journal 405 (2014)
The Language of Mens Rea, 67 Vanderbilt Law Review 1327 (2014)
(with
Matthew R. Ginther
,
Richard J. Bonnie
,
Morris B. Hoffman
,
Owen D. Jones
,
Rene Marois
and
Kenneth W. Simons
)
Legislating Neuroscience: The Case of Juvenile Justice, 46 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 985 (2013)
Mind, Body, and the Criminal Law, 98 Minnesota Law Review 2036 (2013)
Neuroscience, Mental Privacy, and the Law, 36 Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy 653 (2013)
Rape, Money, and the Psychology of Taboo, 43 Journal of Applied Social Psychology 1015 (2013)
Community Support for Mayoral Control of Urban School Districts: A Critical Reexamination, 44 Education and Urban Society 342 (2012)
How Citizens Respond to Combat Casualties: The Differential Impact of Local Casualties on Support for the War in Afghanistan, 76 Public Opinion Quarterly 761 (2012)
(with
Douglas L. Kriner
)
Brain Scans as Evidence: Truths, Proofs, Lies, and Lessons, 62 Mercer Law Review 861 (2011) (Symposium issue: Brain Sciences in the Courtroom)
(with
Owen D. Jones
)
How We Still Fail Rape Victims: Reflecting on Responsibility and Legal Reform, 22 Columbia Journal of Gender and Law 1 (2011)
Law and Neuroscience: Possibilities For Prosecutors, 33 CDAA Prosecutor's Brief 17 (2011) (invited essay)
Sorting Guilty Minds, 86 New York University Law Review 1306 (2011)
(with
Morris B. Hoffman
,
Owen D. Jones
,
Joshua D. Greene
and
Rene Marois
)
The Law and Neuroscience Bibliography: Navigating the Emerging Field of Neurolaw, 38 International Journal of Legal Information 352 (2010)
The Overlooked Utility of the Defendant Class Action, 88 Denver University Law Review 73 (2010)
Limited War and American Political Engagement, 71 Journal of Politics 1514 (2009)
(with
Douglas L. Kriner
)
Iraq Casualties and the 2006 Senate Elections, 32 Legislative Studies Quarterly 507 (2007)
(with
Douglas L. Kriner
)
Mayoral Leadership Matters: Lessons Learned From Mayoral Control of Large Urban School Systems, 82 Peabody Journal of Education 737 (2007)
(with
Kenneth K. Wong
)
Measuring the Effectiveness of City and State Takeover as a School Reform Strategy, 78:4 Peabody Journal of Education 89 (2003)
(with
Kenneth K. Wong
)
Big City Mayors And School Governance Reform: The Case of School District Takeover, 78:1 Peabody Journal of Education 5 (2003)
(with
Kenneth K. Wong
)
Politics of State-Led Reform in Education: Market Competition and Electoral Dynamics, 16 Educational Policy 161 (2002)
(with
Kenneth K. Wong
)

Book Chapters

Race, Ethnicity, and Education Policy, in The Oxford Handbook of Racial and Ethnic Politics in the United States (David L. Leal, Taeku Lee, & Mark Sawyer, eds., Oxford University Press, published online 2014)
(with
Jennifer L. Hochschild
)
Law and Neuroscience in the United States, in International Neurolaw: A Comparative Analysis 349 (Tade Spranger, ed., Springer, 2012)
(with
Owen D. Jones
)
Monetizing Memory Science: Neuroscience and the Future of PTSD Litigation, in Memory and Law 325 (Lynn Nadel & Walter P. Sinnott-Armstrong, eds., Oxford University Press, 2012)
Education Mayors and Big City School Boards: New Directions, New Evidence, in The Future of School Board Governance: Relevancy and Revelation 441 (Thomas L. Alsbury, ed., Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2008)
(with
Kenneth K. Wong
)
Charter Law and Charter Operation: Re-Examining the Charter School Marketplace, in Charter School Outcomes 131 (Mark Berends, Matthew G. Springer & Herbert J. Walberg, eds., Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2007)
(with
Kenneth K. Wong
)
Politics and Religion, in Divided States of America: The Slash and Burn Politics of the 2004 Presidential Election (Larry Sabato, ed., Pearson/Longman, 2006)
(with
Russell Muirhead
,
Nancy L. Rosenblum
and
Daniel Schlozman
)
When Mayors Lead Urban Schools: Assessing the Effects of Mayoral Takeover, in Besieged: School Boards and the Future of Education Politics 81 (William G. Howell, ed., Brookings Institution Press, 2005)
(with
Kenneth K. Wong
)
Political Economy of Charter School Funding Formulas: Exploring State-to-State Variations, in Money, Politics and Law: Intersections and Conflicts in the Provision of Educational Opportunity 171 (Karen DeMoss & Kenneth K. Wong, eds., Eye on Education, 2004)
(with
Kenneth K. Wong
)
Does Title I Money Matter? Federal Compensatory Funding and Student Achievement, in Efficiency, Accountability, and Equity Issues in Title 1 Schoolwide Program Implementation 57 (Kenneth K. Wong & Margaret C. Wang, eds., Information Age Pub., 2002)

Book Reviews

Mayors and Schools: Minority Voices and Democratic Tensions in Urban Education, 43 Urban Affairs Review 288 (2007) (reviewing Stephanie Chambers, Mayors and Schools: Minority Voices and Democratic Tensions in Urban Education (Temple University Press, 2006))

Editorials, Commentary & Letters

You Can Love the Brain and Football, Too, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Jan. 31, 2018 (op-ed)
Chicago Wants An Elected School Board: Here's What Needs To Happen Now, Crain’s Chicago Business, Feb. 26, 2015 (op-ed)
Neuroscience is coming to the law. Can we keep politics out of it?, Washington Post, Feb. 25, 2015 (op-ed)
(with
Dena Gromet
)
For Better Minneapolis Schools, Embrace Mayoral Control, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Sept. 18, 2013
America's "Casualty Gap", Los Angeles Times, May 28, 2010, at A25 (op-ed)
(with
Douglas L. Kriner
)
Baseball's What We Need, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Oct. 26, 2004, at C15 (op-ed)
No Clear Picture Of Charter Schools, San Diego Union-Tribune, July 8, 2001 (op-ed)
(with
Kenneth K. Wong
)
Lessons From State's Charter Schools, Grand Rapids Press, June 22, 2001, at A7 (op-ed)
(with
Kenneth K. Wong
)

Other Publications

Advanced Neurotechnology and Informed Consent in Neurosurgery: Ethical and Legal Perspectives, 24 CNSQ 6 (2023)
(with
Ian Stevens
,
Ilona Cenolli
,
Robert J. Kim
,
Jasmine A. Kwasa
,
Essence Leslie
,
Alexis LiDonde
,
Christiana O. Oshotse
,
Maya V. Roytman
and
Gabriel Lázaro-Muñoz
)
A Historic Opportunity to Update Asylum Law's Outdated Assumptions About Trauma and Memory, 174(8) Annals of Internal Medicine 1163 (2021)
(with
Erin Shortell
,
Aldis H. Petriceks
and
Judith G Edersheim
)
Continuing the Dialog on Human-Animal Chimerism: Response to Bolo, Wills, and Maschke, 16(2) Stem Cell Reports 227 (2021) 
(with
Andrew T. Crane
and
Walter C. Low
)
Battlefield Casualties and Ballot-Box Defeat: Did the Bush–Obama Wars Cost Clinton the White House?, 53 PS: Political Science & Politics 248 (2020)
(with
Douglas L. Kriner
)
Racial Injustice and Neuroethics: Time for Action, 11 AJOB Neuroscience 212 (2020)
How the Burden of Afghanistan Could Fall on Trump’s Supporters, Politico Magazine, Aug. 23, 2017
(with
Douglas L. Kriner
)
Keeping Up with Neurolaw: What to Know and Where to Look, 50 Court Review 104 (2014)
When Elected School Boards Disappear, Living Education eMagazine (Summer 2013)
Mayors Can Be "Prime Movers" of Urban School Improvement, 29:7 Education Week S11 (Oct. 14, 2009)
(with
Kenneth K. Wong
)
Assessing Charter School Performance in Illinois: A Pilot Study Using Error-Band Analysis (National Center on School Choice Working Paper, 2007)
(with
Kenneth K. Wong
)
An Evaluation Of Intradistrict Equity In Massachusetts (Pioneer Institute for Public Policy, 2003) (Research Brief)
(with
Martin R. West
)
Does School District Takeover Work? Assessing the Effectiveness of City and State Takeover as a School Reform Strategy, The State Education Standard 19 (Spr. 2002)
(with
Kenneth K. Wong
)
Can School District Takeover Work? Assessing The Effectiveness Of City And State Takeover As A School Reform Strategy, ERIC/CUE Digest EDO-UD-02-3 (2002)
(with
Kenneth K. Wong
)
Rethinking the Fiscal Role of the States in Public Education, 17:5 Government Finance Review 8 (Oct. 2001)
(with
Kenneth K. Wong
)