Ellan Spero received a BS/MS in Fiber Science at Cornell University as well as an MA in Museum Studies and Textile & Fashion History at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She has worked as a textile conservator on projects ranging from the history of the American presidency and military to ancient Peruvian mummy bundles. She has also studied field development in women's higher education, specifically the history of home economics. Her fiber science work examined the degradation of polyurethane in ultrasuede and self-decontaminating textile surfaces for protective clothing. Her dissertation project engages nascent stage academic-industrial collaboration during the interwar period, a particularly critical time of self-definition for American higher education in science and technology. Using product-oriented applied chemical research at MIT as a case study, she examines science education and laboratory practice within the academic-industrial context, both as a process of boundary negotiation, and of broader institutional change.
textile; industry; consumer culture; design; development; protective clothing; home economics