Faculty Research Advising Interests
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I want to work with students who share an interest in strong, independent inquiry into the nature of human society, our knowledge systems and technological endeavors, and their interrelationship. I believe in supporting each student in the commitment they have made to graduate studies, and expect in turn that they approach faculty as senior colleagues whose knowledge and experience can aid them in their projects. I do believe theoretical sophistication as well as some cultivation of disciplinary competencies are essential for PhD level research, even as I encourage highly interdisciplinary research projects. While I am willing to support a student in any topical area, my own research has been in the areas of engineering education reform and the history of computing. I also have research interests in the area of consumer culture, sustainability, institutional change processes, and STEM education. I am also conversant in, or have relevant experiences in the areas of the sociology of knowledge, semiotics, theories of practice, higher education governance, and pedagogy.
In a view from afar, my research focuses on the political economy and sociology of the global development of science, technology, and human values. Closer in, I’m interested in the political, social, and cultural means and ends available to citizens to intervene in scientific, technological, and social justice controversies. Closer still brings the focus to national and international peace, justice and ecology movements (and green parties, sociology of movement knowledge, environmental science, and environmental and security policy-making.)
Values common to progressive social movements around the world include ecological sustainability, nonviolence, social justice and grassroots democracy. Much of my work centers on exploring what it means for citizens to protect and expand these values in their collective lives and in their societies. I aim to understand how, why, and to what effect people work to promote these values. Conflicts over these values are at the core of contemporary disagreements about the consequences of science and technology. Those movements that work for the responsible and equitable development and deployment of science and technology are of particular interest. There is significant theoretical and policy value in examining campaigns for peaceful technologies and strategies, democratically designed, to enhance the status of women, liberate the oppressed, protect the global environment, and advance the cause of justice.
I study what we think about when we think about drugs and drug users, using approaches that view all knowledge as situated knowledge. I’m interested in working with students at the nexus of cultural studies of science, medicine and technology; history of law and policy as it intersects with science, medicine and technology; and historiographic and ethnographic explorations of science and technology (including neuroscience). My own research has been on how the concept of ‘addiction’ has been used in drug science, treatment, and policy. I also have research interests in bioethics and neuroethics, and in these participate in the making and shaping of human and nonhuman kinds. I study social movements that emerge in these arenas, including harm reduction, naloxone access and overdose prevention advocacy, and the shapes that feminist and women’s health movements take today. Conceptual frameworks include discourse analysis of the Foucauldian kind, situational analysis, institutional ethnography, and sociology of knowledge.
I want to work with students who share an interest in science communication, digital infrastructure for researchers, interdisciplinarity especially around sustainability challenges, regenerative/sustainable design, community engagement especially in Troy, ecological education, and ethnography of data practices.
My research is about achieving sustainable economic development, from both regional and global perspectives. Empirical studies focus on formulating and analyzing detailed scenarios about alternative ways of promoting aspects of sustainability to identify solution concepts that look feasible and potentially desirable. My recent focus has been on water availability and quality, its availability and main uses, and on centralized and decentralized approaches to treatment for safe reuse in different contexts. The analysis makes use of mathematical models, and a lot of the effort goes into compiling data from a variety of sources, including process-level engineering information.
My research group is focused on generative justice; that is, the circulation of unalienated value from the bottom-up. Bringing together inner city, Native American, and African communities with university scientists and engineers, we explore culturally situated design, peer-to-peer production, nonhuman collaboration and other alternative forms of science and technology that allow more just and sustainable lifeways.
My research and teaching focus on environmental risk and disaster, and on experimental ethnographic methods and research design. My work extends from poststructural, postcolonial and feminist theory, in particular, and I have a deep commitment to critical pedagogy. I’m interested in working with students with wide-ranging interests and topical foci who share concern with the ways established modes of thought and representation delimit what counts as problems, and as worthy of our attention and concern – often with tragic effects. Currently, I’m working on a book titled Late Industrialism: Making Environmental Sense, on The Asthma Files, a collaborative project to understand how air pollution and environmental public health are dealt with in different contexts, and on design of the Platform for Experimental and Collaborative Ethnography (PECE), an open source/access digital platform for anthropological and historical research. I also runs the EcoEd Research Group, which turns ethnographic findings about environmental problems into curriculum delivered to young students (kindergarten-grade 12), and am helping organize both the Disaster-STS Research Network, and the Research Data Alliance’s Digital Practices in History and Ethnography Interest Group. All of these projects are open to collaboration.
I am a historian and anthropologist of the sciences, especially the life sciences, especially genomics. I’m currently writing a book titled Minding Genomics: Impossible Sciences and the Double Binds of Care. I also work on The Asthma Files, a collaborative project to understand how air pollution and environmental public health are dealt with in different contexts, and on design of the Platform for Experimental and Collaborative Ethnography (PECE), an open source/access digital platform for anthropological and historical research. I am also a co-chair of the Research Data Alliance’s Digital Practices in History and Ethnography Interest Group. All of these projects are open to collaboration. I welcome working with students who share an interest in data practices and other forms of care in science; in designing digital infrastructure for empirical humanities and experimental ethnography; in what writing does and how to write otherwise; and in how asthma is conceptualized and cared for in multiple disciplines and at multiple scales.
Current research interests – (1) The evolution of ultrasociality in humans and social insects, and the implications for sustainability and social/economic evolution. (2) Ecosystem values in East Africa. I am currently completing U.N. funded study of the economic, cultural, and ecological importance of the Sudd Marsh, Southern Sudan. I hope to begin work soon on a similar study of the Cross River National Park in Nigeria, home to an endangered sub-species of lowland gorilla. (3) Complexity and the evolution of economic systems – In 2009 I began working with the evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson on project funded by the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) that assembled a study group of biologists, economists and behavioral scientists exploring the integration of behavioral economics with evolutionary theory. This project has resulted in several workshops and publications. The latest workshop was about “complexity economics” and held at the Frankfurt Institute, February 2015.
The common theme that has emerged from these three lines of research is governance for sustainability and equity. The basic idea is to go beyond the prescriptions of the dominant economic paradigm which essentially limits economic policy to correcting market failures. With the human impact on the natural world reaching a critical point, an income inequality reaching dangerous levels in terms of social stability, it seems clear that governments should take a much more proactive role and promote the public good in ways that the private market is incapable of doing.
I want to work with students who share an interest in social movements, science in politics and governance, social dimensions of food and farming, energy politics, social inequality, qualitative methods, comparative international research, and/or commodity chain analysis.
I want to work with students who embrace radical interdisciplinary approaches to the social sciences, arts, and humanities. As an artist/designer-turned-scholar myself, I am particularly interested in working with and guiding students who are moving into STS from diverse educational and cultural backgrounds, and who want to use multiple humanistic fields and ontologies to interrogate and productively push one another. While I am open to mentoring students pursuing a diverse array of topics, my own research interests may make me particularly useful for students interested in: digital art and design (game design, animation, 3D printing, and web design), technology and the body (biohacking, body modification, transhumanism, performance art), intersections of literature, science, and technology (including game studies, postcolonial literature, pop culture representations of science, and science fiction), diverse ontologies and metaphysics (including feminist, queer, and postcolonial ontologies, magic and science, new materialism, and speculative realism), and interpretive/literary methods.
I want to work with students who share an interest in political economy/ecology, postcolonial and global studies, critical race theory, environmental justice and racism, and research methods. In general terms, my research examines the biopolitics of recent forms of governance (charity, humanitarian, neoliberal) in the delivery and access of food and drinking water systems on historically marginalized groups and populations.
I want to work with students who share an interest in alternative technology design; the politics of design, technology, and materiality; technology and global development; engineering reform; engineering and design education; technology and militarism; and any dimension of social justice or expertise as it intersects with technology creation and use.
I want to work with students who share an interest in political theory and the politics of technology.
I want to work with students who share an interest in science and technology policy, democratic theory, and/or sustainability studies.
STS Graduate Student Research (Spring 2016)
Leo Matteo Bachinger: I work on gerontechnologies under a variety of foci (citizen-science, ideals and morals of care and aging, hegemonic tendencies, …), interested in the co-production of social, knowledge and technology orders.
David Banks: My work focuses on the design of organizations, public space, self-organizing systems, and the political economy of digital networks.
Michael Bouchey: My dissertation examines the consequences of the neoliberalisation of the U.S. space program and utilizes reconstructivist analysis to steer space policy towards more democratic and egalitarian decision-making.
Brian Callahan: My research explores hacker discourse around participation and social justice through local in-person Open Source user group communities.
Pedro de la Torre III: My dissertation examines long-term stewardship, future imaginaries, and intergenerational ethics at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
Mara Dicenta Vilker: My research focuses on the treatments for obesity and overweight in public hospitals and private clinics. I explore how experts, patients/customers and technologies produce, subjectivize and translate different situated obesities.
Kevin Fodness: My dissertation examines web development groups and factors that affect the accessibility of the websites they produce, as well as how those websites are experienced by people with varying disabilities.
Ellen Foster: My dissertation explores informal educational practices and knowledge production in various skill-sharing sites, including past, present, and future imaginaries of hackerspaces, the cultural landscape of their inception and growth.
Colin Garvey: My dissertation research focuses on the the barriers to and potentials for more democratic governance of artificial intelligence (AI). I am currently pursuing an East/West cross-cultural comparison of governance regimes by investigating AI R&D in Japan and the US.
Wynne Hedlesky: My research looks at emerging energy systems in Laos, and the relationships between dominant global development discourses and the on-the-ground choices and strategies of those who support large-scale hydropower versus decentralized energy systems.
Scott Kellogg: My research looks at regenerative anthropogenic ecosystems as prescriptive models of socio-technical resilience for fostering the adaptive capacity of grassroots organizations and sustainability transformations.
Michael Lachney: My research uses ethnographic methods to study how teachers in Ghana and the US negotiate state, technology, and testing standards when implementing construction kit technologies in their classrooms. My work contributes to ongoing debates on educational technology in anthropology, media studies, and technology studies.
Dan Lyles: My research investigates informal STEM educational practices and their promises for contributing to diversifying formal STEM education and democratizing STEM governance. It uses a case-study approach, comparing across a variety of urban farming and educational organizations.
Khadija Mitu: My dissertation critically analyzes the development of fertility preservation, an emerging field of human reproductive science.
Alli Morgan: My research explores the clinical and social emergence of chronic illness in post-conflict countries.
Lee Nelson: My research focuses on obsolescence in a variety of non-traditional and emerging areas, and how obsolescence is induced, responded to, and combated by humans and nonhumans in and across institutional settings.
Karin Patzke: My dissertation investigates bureaucracy, law and rural communities in the dissemination of scientific practices and knowledge in environmental conservation efforts on private lands in Texas.
Lindsay Poirier: My research explores how the logics that inform various scientific and humanities disciplines translate into digital infrastructure and, drawing on feminist scholarship and language theory, questions how diverse and marginalized perspectives are lost in this translation.
Laura Rabinow: My research examines how agricultural biotechnologies are produced, portrayed, and perceived, and how they are being negotiated by a variety of actors on the African continent.
Guy Schaffer: My dissertation examines and supports social movement efforts to study and shape local food waste regimes.
Kate Tyrol: My research investigates the discursive formation of the “fat” subject with a particular focus on bariatric surgery and its role in defining “motherhood."