MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000


The 1999—2000 year was a good year for STS. The Program graduated four new Ph.D.s., promoted two faculty members (one to associate professor with tenure; the other to associate professor without tenure), and successfully completed a search for a junior faculty appointment. Assistant Professor David Kaiser will join our faculty on July 1, 2000. Another piece of good news is that Dean for Undergraduate Education and Robert M. Metcalfe Professor of Writing Rosalind H. Williams will be joining the STS faculty as of July 1, 2000, and will become Director of the STS Program July 1, 2002. The public STS colloquia series was again excellent, including the annual Arthur Miller Lecture on Science and Ethics delivered by Dr. Paul Farmer of the Harvard Medical School and Partners in Health. On the administrative side, we conducted a search and hired a new Administrative Officer, Ms. Christine Bates.


In its twelfth year, the History and Social Study of Science and Technology (HSSST) Doctoral Program (a collaborative venture of STS, the History Faculty, and the Anthropology Program) continued to develop in a satisfactory way. We are particularly pleased that four HSSST students completed their Ph.D.s. Dr. Patricia Bentley will continue as a vice president at Sapient Corporation (currently opening the Sydney Australia office); Dr. Karin Ellison will be teaching this year at the University of Minnesota; Dr. Christopher Kelty will continue his research on international developments in virtual surgery; Dr. Hannah Landecker will continue her fellowship at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin. HSSST doctoral students Mr. Brendan Foley and Ms. Rachel Prentice passed their General Exams. Present and incoming students received a variety of grants and fellowships, including fellowships from the Dibner Institute, National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Max Planck Institute, as well as Walter Rosenblith and MIT Presidential fellowships.

The HSSST Doctoral Program received 65 applications for the 2000—2001 academic year. Four students accepted, all of our top choices. Mr. Alexander (Sandy) Brown is an international student from the University of Otago, New Zealand, where he received his B.A. in History in 1998; since graduating, he has been a research fellow in the Department of History at Otago working on a social history project. Mr. Nathan Greenslit received his B.A. from St. John College in the History of Math and Science, and has been at Johns Hopkins University for the last two years in the brain and cognitive science doctoral program. Ms. Jennifer Smith received her B.A. from Macalaster College in Biology and French; she spent last year teaching English in southern France. Ms. Livia Wick received her B.A. from Brown University in Human Biology; she expects a Masters degree summer of 2000 in Arabic History and Literature from University of Paris IV, Sorbonne; currently continuing her research on Middle Eastern medical systems.

HSSST graduate students Mr. Wen Hua Kuo, Ms. Prentice, and Ms. Aslihan Sanal, were the STS representatives to the joint Harvard-MIT Culture and Science Seminar series at the Harvard Center for Literary and Cultural Studies. Professor Michael Fischer and Assistant Professor Joseph Dumit were the faculty coordinators from MIT. HSSST graduate students Mr. Kuo, Ms. Prentice, and Mr. Kaushik Sunder Rajan served on a panel at the European History and Social Studies Conference in Amsterdam in April. HSSST graduate student Mr. Benjamin Pinney had a paper selected for an international Product Management Institute (PMI) research conference, for which he was awarded a Kelly Douglas Fund travel grant to attend the conference. Mr. Pinney also learned this spring that he received a fellowship for 2000—2001 through the MIT Industrial Performance Center. HSSST graduate student Mr. Heinrich Schwarz learned that he had been awarded a Lemelson Center Fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution for Summer 2000.


Professor Louis L. Bucciarelli continues to work under a grant of $47,485 from France-Telecom to carry out a comparative study of the development and use of applications related to Telemedicine in France and in the United States. He was assisted on this project by HSSST doctoral student Mr. Kelty until February when Mr. Kelty finished his doctoral studies.

Associate Professor Evelynn Hammonds received an NSF grant to write an essay on the state of historical scholarship on race in science, medicine and technology. She also received grants from the Ford Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation ($750,000) to establish the MIT Center for the Study of Diversity in Science, Technology, and Medicine in the United States.

Professor Kenneth Keniston continued his research on cultural aspects of software localization with support from the NEC Corporation (via the Provost's MIT Research Support Committee), the Provost’s HASS Fund, and the Mustard Seed Foundation. In addition, he received a grant of $50,000 from the Ford Foundation to organize a working group on "Equity, Diversity, and Information Technology."

Assistant Professor David Mindell continued his research on technology, archaeology and the deep sea with support from the Wade Fund (via the Provost’s MIT Research Support Committee), the Kaplan Foundation, and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The history textbook project, "Integrating the American Past: A New Narrative History of the United States," with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (grant total: $1.754 million over eight years) is in its final year. The project is headed by Professor Merritt Roe Smith and includes Professors Pauline Maier (MIT), Daniel Kevles (California Institute of Technology), and Alex Keyssar (Duke University) as primary authors. Publication is expected in the fall of 2001 and will consist of an electronic version as well as a print version of the text.

Professor Sherry Turkle received $100,000 from MIT’s Committee Research Funds to conduct research on Relational Artifacts.


The STS Program offered 27 undergraduate subjects and 19 graduate subjects. Undergraduate enrollment totaled 428 (fall: 165; spring 263). Graduate enrollment totaled 140 (fall: 80; spring 60). There were three undergraduate majors, two minors, and 28 concentrators.

New undergraduate classes for 1999—2000 included STS.032/21H.101, "American History to 1865," taught by Professors Maier and Smith; STS.037/STS.427, "Food and Power in the Twentieth Century," taught by Associate Professor Deborah K. Fitzgerald; STS.046/SP.482, "The Science of Race, Sex, and Gender in the US," taught by Professor Hammonds; STS.049, "African Americans in Science, Technology, and Medicine," and STS.087, "Biography in Science," both taught by Thomas Meloy Professor of Rhetoric and History of Science Kenneth R. Manning. New graduate offerings included STS.457, "The Concept of 'Race’ in Science, Medicine, and Anthropology," taught by Professor Hammonds; STS.467, "Research Seminar in Deep Sea Archaeology," taught by Professor Mindell; and STS.023/SP.706, "Historic Experimentation," taught by Professors Bucciarelli and Jed Buchwald (which receives LAB credit).

Professors Fitzgerald, Hammonds, and Mindell submitted a proposal to offer a new freshman class called "Factories and Laboratories" as part of a competition sponsored by the D’Arbeloff Teaching Initiative. Out of some 40 entries, theirs was one of three that were selected to do a pilot class, scheduled to be offered next spring.


This year’s Siegel Prize for the best work by an MIT student in science, technology, and society was awarded to HSSST graduate student Mr. Heinrich Schwarz. Mr. Schwarz’s paper, "Hidden Work in Virtual Work," was selected from a field of 18 submissions from a number of MIT departments. Serving on the Siegel Prize Committee for this year’s competition were Professor Manning (chair), Professors Louis L. Bucciarelli, Jr., and Associate Professor Hugh Gusterson.

Dr. Farmer was this year’s speaker at the Annual Arthur Miller Lecture on Science and Ethics held May 8, 2000. Dr. Farmer's talk, "Pathologies of Power: Science, Technology, and the Future of Human Rights" was widely attended.

The family of the late Professor Elting Morison (a founder of the STS Program and a member of the MIT faculty for 35 years) and the Hitchiner Manufacturing Company have given MIT a $500,000 endowment to establish the Morison Lecture and Prize in Science, Technology, and Society. The prize will be given each year to an outstanding individual who embodies the Morison family ideal of combining humanistic values with effectiveness in the world of practical affairs, and in particular, in science and technology. The first award went to Distinguished Visiting Professor of History of Technology Professor Thomas P. Hughes. His lecture, "A Usable History for Engineers," was held April 25, 2000.

HSSST doctoral students Mr. Shane Hamilton and Mr. Sunder Rajan helped graduate students from the STS programs at Cornell, Rensselaer (RPI), and MIT organize an informal conference this spring to improve scholarly and social communications among the major STS programs in the New England region. Hosted by MIT, the conference lasted two days. The first night, Cornell and RPI students met informally with MIT faculty members. The following day, 12 Cornell students, 10 MIT students, and 10 RPI students made brief presentations about their current and their general research interests. Topics discussed ranged from "Street Movements: Design and Change in Urban Transport" to "Codes, Identities and Pathologies in the Construction of Tamoxifen for Breast Cancer Risk Reduction" to "Movin’ All the Clocks Around: Daylight Saving and the Politics of Rural Identity." Despite (or because of) the broad range of topics, students engaged in healthy and encouraging discussions about methodologies and the state of the field. Faculty were intentionally "uninvited" to the presentations, to encourage a sense of tension-free informality. Both the presentations and the social gathering later that night created a sense of amity and scholarly unity among the students. The students are currently working on creating a permanent infrastructure for this event, with each school hosting it once every three years.

The STS Program sponsored an informal dinner on September 30, 2000, to bring together and promote collegiality between HSSST faculty and graduate students at MIT with faculty and graduate students in Harvard’s History of Science Department. Because of the positive feedback, it is hoped that this will become an annual event. Harvard’s History of Science Department will host the event in the coming academic year.

The STS Program held its first Spring Gala. This was an opportunity to celebrate the many accomplishments of faculty, graduate students, and staff. In addition to celebrating the faculty promotions of Associate Professor with Tenure Hugh Gusterson and Associate Professor without Tenure David Mindell, we acknowledged support staff Sophie Wadsworth for receiving a month long residency fellowship at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Sweet Briar (February 2000); a Massachusetts Cultural Council Professional Development Grant ($400) ; and a Concord Cultural Council Grant ($250). Ms. Wadsworth also had a sonnet sequence published in the Winter 2000 issue of The Malahat Review (University of Victoria, BC) and gave a poetry reading in April at the Concord Free Public Library.

We also noted that Visiting Scholar Victor McElheny (formerly Director of the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships until 1998) has begun research and writing of his study, James Watson and the DNA Revolution, for Perseus Books of Cambridge. Work on the Watson project will be supported by a grant Mr. McElheny received from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Other faculty accomplishments are listed individually under Faculty Activities.


STS Colloquia series, headed by Professor Dumit and Leo Marx Career Development Assistant Professor of History and Culture of Science and Technology Jessica Riskin, continued to be a core activity of the HSSST Doctoral Program. This year's series consisted of 22 speakers from such institutions as MIT, Harvard, New School for Social Research, Lancaster University, Colby College, University of Michigan, University College London, University of Chicago and Stanford, and covered a wide range of topics from "Human-Robot Interaction and the Future of Robots in Society," "Systems, Networks, and Webs: Toward a History of Digital Convergence," "African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design," "Agricultural Biotechnology and Globalization," "The Legacy of Computer Science," "Why Did Celsius Think that Water Froze at 100 Degrees Celsius?" Professors Fitzgerald and Smith organized six brown bag lunch discussions for HSSST doctoral students and STS faculty. Three of these talks gave our faculty and students the opportunity to hear work currently in progress by HSSST faculty members Professors Hammonds, Keller, and Jean Jackson. Another gave our faculty and students the opportunity to meet with the director of a parallel interdisciplinary program at the University of Maastricht, The Netherlands. Professor Mindell continued work begun at his January 1999 MIT conference on Deep Water Archeology by holding monthly workshops that brought together archaeologists, engineers, and oceanographers from MIT and other institutions to discuss new deep sea technology.

The India/South Asia Forum, convened by Dr. Abha Sur, a Visiting Scholar in STS, continued for a second year with eight talks presented during 1999—2000. The sessions included such topics as "Rethinking Anti-Colonialism: Local Wars, Global Truces," "Contemporary Issues for Women’s Movement in India," "South Asians in Silicon Valley: Some Field Notes and Thoughts," and "New Nukes: India, Pakistan and Global Nuclear.


Now entering their eighteenth year, the Knight Fellowships continue to attract science journalists from around the world to learn more about the research and innovation they cover. During his second year as Director of the Program, Boyce Rensberger inaugurated a week-long intensive fellowship in molecular biology for science journalists, as well as a three-day program for editors. In addition, Rensberger secured an additional two million dollar endowment pledge grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The eighteenth class of Fellows includes Sahoon Hong, science reporter, Korean Broadcasting System; Akinlabi Jimoh, science writer, The Guardian, Nigeria; Sharon Kay, freelance science writer and producer, New York; Karen Rafinski, medical writer, the Miami Herald; Teresa Riordan, patents columnist, the New York Times; Gary Robbins, science writer, Orange County Register; California; Bari Scott, executive director, SoundVision Productions, Berkeley; Seema Singh, science writer The Times of India, Bangalore; Volker Steger, science photographer, Munich; Angela Swafford, writer and producer,

Fellows attend over 60 seminars with faculty, which are specially organized for them, as well as other seminars and workshops devoted to science and technology and their wider impacts. The Fellowships are supported by an endowment contributed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation of Miami and by alumni and foundation gifts. More information about the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships can be found at


Professor Buchwald co-organized a Dibner Institute conference on technology; coordinated the Dibner Institute Fellows program; published an article in a book edited by Raine Daston for University of Chicago Press; inaugurated a new history of science and technology series with MIT Press (Transformations, first two books are in press).

Professor Dumit is revising his book manuscript Whose Brain Is This? PET Scans and Personhood in Biomedical America and co-chaired the STS colloquia series.

Professor Fischer was on leave during the spring term, published three papers, has three papers in press, and participated in two national conferences. He is stepping down as Director of MIT’s STS Program as of July 1, 2000, a position he held for the past three and a half years.

Professor Fitzgerald completed her book, Yeoman No More: The Industrialization of Agriculture, (Yale University Press, in press).

Professor Gusterson published a book (co-edited with Jutta Weldes, Mark Laffey and Robert Duvall) entitled Cultures of Insecurity: States, Communities,and the Production of Danger, University of Minnesota Press; published an article called "Feminist Militarism" in Political and Legal Anthropology Review.

Professor Hammonds was elected Secretary of the MIT faculty for a two year term; appointed to the Faculty Policy Committee; taught four courses; organized for the fourth year the Joint MIT/Harvard Workshop on "Race" in the Histories of Science, Medicine and Technology; and was appointed to the editorial board of the journal Signs.

Professor Evelyn Fox Keller completed a book manuscript The Century of the Gene (Harvard University Press, in press). She organized and hosted (with Assistant Professor Ned Hall) a colloquium series in the History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences; received a Guggenheim Fellowship and two honorary degrees (Allegheny College; The New School University); and was Visiting Professor, Ecole Normale, Fall 2000. She published two new articles and wrote articles for conferences that will appear in published proceedings.

Professor Keniston directed the MIT-India Program, which sent 18 MIT students as interns this year to eight different sites in India; was Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee Visiting Professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, while he was on leave during the 1999 fall semester and published Earth, Air, Fire, Water: Humanistic Studies of the Environment, edited with Jill Conway and Leo Marx (University of Massachusetts Press, 2000). 

Professor Mindell published Technology, War, and Experience Aboard the USS Monitor (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000). In addition to having a book under contract with Johns Hopkins University Press on A History of Control Systems: 1916—1945, he published two conference proceedings, several journal articles, including "Opening Black’s Box: Rethinking Feedback’s Myth of Origin," Technology and Culture, and several chapters in edited books. In addition, Professor Mindell chaired, MIT’s Independent Activities Period Policy Committee and served as a member of MIT’s Committee on Undergraduate Program.

Professor Riskin served as the STS Undergraduate Academic Officer and co-organized, along with Professor Dumit, the STS Colloquia Series. She published a journal article, an essay, two encyclopedia articles, and a book review.

Professor Smith served as Acting Director of the STS Program during the spring 2000 term, and will become Director of the program for a two-year period beginning July 1, 2000. He continued to head the Sloan history textbook project, "Integrating the American Past: A New Narrative History of the United States," now in its final year. Professor Smith serves on various museum boards and committees, including Hagley Museum and Library, American Museum of Textile History, and The Thomas Edison Papers Project.

Professor Turkle continues to work on program development and fundraising for a new Center for Technology and Identity at MIT and received the Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professorship. She published several chapters in edited books, including "Toys to Change Our Minds" in Predictions, Sian Griffiths, ed.; published several articles, including "The Digital Future: From Rorschach to Relational Artifact" in the Radcliffe Quarterly, Winter 2000; and a report on "Tech-Savvy: Educating Girls in the New Computer Age," co-edited with AAUW Educational Foundation Commissioners, April 2000.


With the resignation of Professor Buchwald, STS hopes to fill the Bern Dibner Professorship of the History of Science during the 2000—2001 academic year. The task of reviewing the graduate program basic courses will continue during 2000—2001. We have also begun a serious review of the undergraduate offerings, and will continue to put into place a more coherent set and diverse range of subjects. We will also continue our efforts to teach and interact with units across the Institute.

More information about the STS Program can be found on the World Wide Web at

Merritt Roe Smith

MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000