Faculty Research Advising Interests
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 human evolutionary theory, decision making, social psychology, and/or the interpersonal dimensions of computing.
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.
I want to work with students who share an interest in sustainable economic development, especially from a global perspective.
I want to work with students who share an interest in generative justice.
I want to work with students who share an interest in environmental sciences and politics, environmentalism, and the law, and ethnographic methods.
I want to work with students who share an interest in history and anthropology of the sciences, especially the life sciences, especially genomics; data practices and other forms of care; designing digital infrastructure for empirical humanities and experimental ethnography; what writing does and how to write otherwise; 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 share an interest in medicine and culture, new reproductive technologies, popular images of nature, feminist methods, and/or emerging faculty structures.
I want to work with students who share an interest in Technology in Art and Design, Games Studies and Design, Questions of Ontology, Speculative Realism and New Materialism, Biohacking and Body Modification, Transhumanism, Science and Tech in Popular Culture and Literature, Philosophy of Technology, and/or Morality and Ethics.
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 expertise and socio-technical integration, alternative practices in technology design, politics of design/materiality, design and global development, engineering reform and radical politics in engineering, engineering and design education, technology and militarism, and social justice as it intersects with any of the above.
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
David Banks: My dissertation is a comparative study of two participatory design projects that aim to increase individuals' capacity to challenge exploitation and oppression through public action.
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.
Ben Brucato: My dissertation is on the role of ubiquitous surveillance and social media in producing persistent televisibility of police violence. My primary theoretical and empirical contributions are to the fields of critical police studies, critical technology studies, and surveillance studies.Brian Callahan: My research explores hacker discourse around participation and social justice through local in-person Open Source user group communities.
Jon Cluck: My dissertation is about the biopolitics of amateur biologists (DIY Bio), focusing on how they assemble and use their laboratories.
Pedro de la Torre III: My dissertation examines long-term stewardship, future imaginaries, and intergenerational ethics at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
Taylor Dotson: My dissertation explores how technological artifacts and infrastructures that facilitate strong forms of local community could be encouraged.
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 examines the evolving application of evolutionary theory in a number of areas of human behavior, including the origins of agriculture and sustainable industrial development, using Japan as a comparative field-site.
Rebecca Harrison: My research uses the case study of the American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project to explore the ways in which agricultural biotechnologists actively navigate both a wary public and an unconstructive regulatory framework.
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.
Kirk Jalbert: My dissertation investigates how data produced by citizen science groups becomes mobilized through public data sharing projects – particularly in the social, community, and organizational contexts of volunteer water monitoring groups dealing with shale gas extraction issues in Pennsylvania, New York, and West Virginia.
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.
Karin Patzke: My research investigates law and legal fictions in the dissemination of scientific practices through environmental conservation efforts on private lands.
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.
Tahereh (Sonia) Saheb: My dissertation examines environmental health governance in Iran, and the Middle East more broadly.
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.
James Wilcox:My dissertation explores energy transition pathways by investigating the relationships between sociotechnical imaginaries, household energy provisioning practices, and energy policy interventions in the U.S.