MIT Reports to the President 1996-97


The 1996-97 academic year marked a transition in leadership: Professor Merritt Roe Smith handed over the Directorship of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) to Professor Michael M.J. Fischer, and Professor Kenneth Keniston handed over the Directorship of Graduate Studies to Associate Professor Deborah Fitzgerald. Professor Keniston became the Director of Projects, a newly created position to help the Program with outreach, grantsmanship, and raising of money, a capacity in which he has excelled in the past. In September 1996, the faculty held a follow-up to the Faculty Retreat held the previous May. A new Core Course was approved and ran throughout the 1996-97 academic year, involving a majority of the faculty who were in residence, the first year students, half of the second year class, many of the third year students, and one or two of the more advanced students. A review of the undergraduate program is in its initial phases under a committee led by Associate Professor Larry Bucciarelli.


In its ninth 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. Present and incoming students received a variety of grants and fellowships, including fellowships from the Dibner Institute, Ida Green, the National Science Foundation (NSF), American Association of University Women, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation. The HSSST Doctoral Program received 67 applications for the 1997-98 academic year. Five of the eight students offered admission to the HSSST Doctoral Program accepted. Important roles in the program were played by Professors Fitzgerald (Director of Graduate Studies; STS), James Howe (Anthropology Program), and Peter Perdue (History Faculty), all of whom were members of the Doctoral Program Steering Committee. As Director of the STS Program, Professor Fischer also served on the Doctoral Program Steering Committee.

The major new initiative in the doctoral program was the launching of a new Core Course (STS.201/202), proposed at the spring 1996 Faculty Retreat, planned over the summer, and approved at the September follow-up

meeting. Built around substantive topics ranging from the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century to the molecular biology revolution, the computer revolution, and environmental issues, it is an attempt to bring into juxtaposition the different methods and frameworks of the several disciplines that make up the STS Program, and thereby to work out, by doing, the distinctive ethos of this interdisciplinary program.


Assistant Professor David Mindell received a grant of $13,800 from the James H. Ferry, Jr. Fund (administered by the MIT Research Committee). Funds were awarded to support the development of Mindell's joint STS/Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) course, "Structure of Engineering Revolutions." Distinguished Visiting Professor Thomas P. Hughes received a grant of $65,000 from the Sloan Foundation; Hughes will be creating a network of websites on the history of technology. Work continued on the history textbook project, "Integrating the American Past: A New Narrative History of the United States," which is funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (grant total: $1.754 million over eight years). The project is headed by Professor Smith and includes Professors Pauline Maier (MIT), Daniel Kevles (California Institute of Technology), and Alex Keyssar (Duke University) as primary authors.


The STS Program offered 25 undergraduate subjects and 21 graduate subjects. Undergraduate enrollments totaled 313 (fall: 124; spring: 189). During the 1996-97 academic year there were 5 majors, 7 minors, and 42 concentrators representing the Classes of 1997 to 2000. On the graduate level, the new two-semester Core Course (STS.201/202, "Introduction to STS") was taught by Professors Fischer and Fitzgerald, with other faculty members participating in various strands of the course.


The 1996 Siegel Prize for the best work by an MIT student in science, technology, and society was won by Ms. Hannah Landecker, a third year doctoral student in HSSST for her paper "Seeking Cellvationô: HeLa Cells and

Immortality." The 1997 Annual Arthur Miller Lecturer on Science and Ethics was Dr. George Annas, the Edward R. Utley Professor and Chair of the Health Law Department and Director of the Law, Medicine and Ethics Program at Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health. Annas' talk , "Cloning the Capitalism Gene: Genism, Patenting, and Privacy," addressed some of the social and political issues raised by cloning. Some 300 people were attracted to a panel discussion on "The Media, the Government, and Scientific Misconduct: The David Baltimore Case in American Political Culture" with Professors David Baltimore (MIT) and Kevles; this was the best attended of the Fall 1996 STS Colloquium series. On May 1, the STS Program hosted a dinner meeting with faculty members from Harvard's History of Science Department. In addition to Professors Fischer (Director of STS) and Peter Galison (Chairman of Harvard's History of Science Department), ten STS faculty members and five Harvard History of Science faculty members attended this dinner. Professor Fischer organized this dinner to give the faculty of both groups the opportunity to meet and discuss ways in which both organizations can collaborate on future events.


In its seventh year, the STS Colloquia Series, headed this year by Professor Fischer, continued to be a core activity of the HSSST Doctoral Program. The series comprised of 21 speakers from such institutions as the Max Planck Institute for Wissenschaftgeschichte, the California Institute of Technology, the Harvard School of Public Health, Stanford University, and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, and covered a wide range of topics from "Image and Logic: The Material Culture of Physics," to "Performing 'TAXOL': Facts, Actors and Imbroglios in the Biography of an Anti-Cancer Drug," to "The Sounds of Plasma Physics," to "Racial Discrimination and Health: An Epidemiologic Perspective." Professor Fischer organized five brown bag lunch discussions for HSSST doctoral students and STS faculty to have the opportunity to meet with directors of parallel interdisciplinary programs at the Royal Swedish Institute of Technology and at Rice University (Professors Svante Lindqvist and George Marcus), to have informal discussions of a student video-ethnographic exploration (Mr. Christopher Kelty's video done at the Whitehead Institute) and processes of doing ethnographic work in high tech but third world settings (Dr. Peter Redfield, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, on the French space station in French Guiana); or with visiting faculty on the background behind getting innovative work accepted (Professor James Livingston, Rutgers University).


The STS Newsletter's fall issue focused on the transitions in the Program; the spring issue provided interesting statements by graduate students of their projects. The STS Working Papers, under the editorship of Professor Keniston, provides a means of disseminating early versions of work in progress. Landecker and Keniston were the two new STS Working Papers put out this year: "Seeking Cellvation: HeLa Cells and Immorality" and "Software Localization: Notes on Technology and Culture." In the early fall, the Program hosted a dinner to salute Professors Smith and Keniston for their decade of leadership of the Program, and Professor Charles Weiner upon his retirement.


Now entering their fifteenth year, the Knight Fellowships continue to attract science journalists from around the world to MIT to learn more about the research and innovation they cover. The fifteenth class of Fellows includes six journalists from the United States and three from Australia, Switzerland, and Japan. During their nine months on campus, Fellows attend some 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. Senior Research Associate Victor McElheny, an experienced science journalist who has been Director of the Knight Science Journalism Program from its inception, finished writing a biography of Edwin Land, the inventor of instant photography (deceased 1991), who was nearly 40 years a Visiting Institute Professor at MIT. More information about the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships can be found at the following URL:


Professor Jed Buchwald edited and wrote the introduction for the journal Archimedes, Vol. I; and became co-editor of a series, Studies and Sources in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences. He wrote an article on

"Mathematics in 19th Century Physics" (Journal of the Center for Applied Computing), and two obituaries for Thomas Kuhn. He received a $300,000 grant from the Sloan Foundation's "Limits to Knowledge" program, and under it co-organized a workshop on "The Spectrum." He organized a Dibner Institute workshop on "The Electron." He joined the advisory boards of the American Institute of Physics and the 7 Pines Symposium (co-organizing a meeting of the latter), and chaired the Nominating Committee of the International Union for History and Philosophy of Science. He gave talks at Tel Aviv, Notre Dame, Bologna, and Edinburgh.

Professor Fischer published three articles; five encyclopedia essays, two articles, and two reviews are in press. He gave papers at four conferences, and was the conference commentator at a fifth. He was an active editorial board member on four journals. He took a lead role in shaping and coordinating the new Core Course for the HSSST Doctoral Program, and co-taught a seminar at the Harvard Medical School in the Health Science Technology (HST) Program.

Professor Fitzgerald published two articles and lectured at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. She supervised two undergraduate theses, and served on five MIT committees. Outside MIT she served on the Society for the History of Technology's Dexter Prize Committee, was Advisory Editor for the journal Technology and Culture, served on the Nominating Committee of the History of Science Society, and served as co-editor of a monograph series at the Johns Hopkins University Press.

Professor Loren Graham, on leave during 1996-97, completed his book What Have We Learned about Science and Technology from the Soviet Experience? (Stanford University Press). He received the highest award of the History

of Science Society, the George Sarton Medal, "for a lifetime of professional contributions to the history of science." His book, The Ghost of the Executed Engineer, was the subject of a panel discussion at the joint meeting of the AAAS and the Moscow Aviation Institute. He gave papers in Moscow on the development of philosophy of science in Russia, and in Norway on "The Abortive Effort to Reform Russian Science." He chaired the selection committee of the MacArthur Foundation for its fellowships in Russia, and serves on the selection committee for the McDonnell Foundation, which intends to give several large "Centennial Fellowships" to historians and philosophers of science. He also worked with Dr. Irina Dezhina, Visiting Scholar in STS, on an effort to engage American foundations in support for Russian science.

Associate Professor Hugh Gusterson's book, Nuclear Rites: A Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War, was published by the University of California Press. Two articles were also published, "Nuclear Weapons Testing: Scientific Experiment as Political Ritual" and "Remembering Hiroshima at a Nuclear Weapons Laboratory." He attended six conferences, and presented seminars at MIT's Defense and Arms Control Studies and Center for International Studies. He served on the Institute's HASS-D Committee. He won a fellowship to be in residence at the Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford University in 1997-98.

Assistant Professor Evelynn Hammonds was promoted to Associate Professor effective July 1, 1997. She co-edited a volume, Gender and Scientific Authority; and published three articles in edited volumes on African-American feminism. She presented papers or keynote addresses at six conferences, served on the Program Committee for the Organization of American Historians, and on the Committee on Women for the History of Science Society. She co-taught a joint Harvard-MIT monthly workshop on race in medicine, anthropology, and biology. She led a faculty/graduate student workshop at the University of California at Berkeley's Department of African-American Studies on interdisciplinary studies. She supervised a UROP student project on "Black Male Physicians and Black Women Health Activists." At MIT she served on the Dean of Admissions' Search Committee, the Women's Studies Steering Committee, and the HSSST Doctoral Program Admissions Committee.

Professor Evelyn Fox Keller received an honorary doctorate from Lulea University in Sweden, gave six special lectures or keynote addresses, and nine conference or colloquia lectures around the world from Australia to Israel and Europe. In addition to five articles in press, she co-edited a volume on Feminism and Science, and was a member of the Gulbenkian Commission Report on the Restructuring of the Social Sciences.

Professor Keniston was on leave in the fall. He published two articles on software localization, and co-edited a volume on environmental issues for which he was the principle author of the introduction. He organized two workshops on software localization, one in Canada, and one in India; he gave talks in Italy and India.

Professor Mindell, the new Frances and David Dibner Assistant Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing, designed a new course on the structure of engineering revolutions to be offered jointly with the School of Engineering in fall 1997. He served as the Undergraduate Academic Officer for the STS Program in the fall. He gave an EECS colloquium on "The History of Control Systems," and presented a paper at the Dibner Institute Conference on the History of Atmospheric Flight.

Professor Theodore Postol attended conferences in Beijing, New York, and Washington on arms control, cooperation on nuclear challenges, and ballistic missile defense;he spoke at Carleton College, Stanford

University, the Asia Society, and the Japan Institute of International Affairs. He published an article on "U.S. Missile Defense Activities Violate, Undermine ABM Treaty"; and has a second invited article in preparation. He received grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, W. Alton Jones Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. He served on the editorial boards of two journals, and as a consultant to the Office of Nonproliferation and National Security, Department of Energy Science and Technology Advisory Group. At MIT he serves as co-organizer of the Defense and Arms Control Studies (DACS) Technology, Defense and Arms Control Seminar series, and is a member of the Lincoln Laboratory Campus Interaction Committee.

Professor Smith received an honorary doctorate from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in recognition of his "outstanding contributions to the history of technology." He was on leave during 1996-97 to work on the Sloan American History Textbook Project. He served as editor of the history of technology series at the Johns Hopkins University Press, as a senior advisor to WGBH's acclaimed television series, "The American Experience," on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Thomas A. Edison Papers, on the board of trustees of the Hagley Museum and Library, the Museum of American Textile History, and the Steamtown Institute.

Professor Sherry Turkle gave twenty-two lectures or conference papers (Simmons College Graduate School of Management, the Santa Fe Institute, the New School for Social Research, and the American Sociological Association, to name a few venues). A British edition of her book, Life on the Screen, was published, and translations were begun for editions in Chinese, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish. She published six chapters in books, and four articles in journals. She was a Fellow, World Economic Forum; Mentor, Ross School and Institute; Member, Massachusetts Women's Forum; Board of Directors and Board of Incorporators, Harvard Magazine; Editorial Advisory Board, Science, Technology, and Human Values; and Advisory Board, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. At MIT she served on the Committee on Privacy, the Communications Forum (her sixth year), and the Women's Studies Steering Committee (her 12th year). She served as an advisor to students from MIT (3), Harvard (1), and Brandeis (1).


STS hopes to fill three junior tenure-track lines. Searches will be run during 1997-98, with the hope of filling at least two positions for the academic 1998-99 year. The search process is designed to consciously and proactively pursue affirmative action to diversify our faculty. The task of reviewing the graduate program basic courses in the wake of the new Core Course will continue during 1998-99, as well as beginning a more serious review of the undergraduate offerings.

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

Michael M. J. Fischer

MIT Reports to the President 1996-97