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Invention Assembly Workshop

"HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES ON INVENTION & CREATIVITY"
March 2003

Participant Biographies

 

MERRITT ROE SMITH (Chair)
Leverett and William Cutten Professor of the History of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Merritt Roe Smith received his B.A. in history from Georgetown University in 1963 and his M.A. and Ph.D. in history from Pennsylvania State University in 1971. Before coming to M.I.T. in 1978, he taught at Ohio State University and the University of Pennsylvania. Smith's book, Harpers Ferry Armory and the New Technology (1977), received the 1977 Frederick Jackson Turner Award, the 1978 Pfizer Award, and nomination for the Pulitzer Prize in History. He has received numerous fellowships and recognition, including a Regents Fellowship from the Smithsonian Institution, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Senior Fulbright Scholarship in Sweden, a Thomas Newcomen Fellowship at the Harvard Business School, and the Leonardo da Vinci Medal from the Society for the History of Technology. Smith is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and currently serves on the boards of the American Museum of Textile History, the Thomas Edison Papers Project at Rutgers University, and the public television series, "The American Experience."  His research focuses on the history of American industrialization and the role of the military in technological innovation. He is editor of Military Enterprise and Technological Change  (1985); Does Technology Drive History?, co-edited with Leo Marx (1994); and Major Problems in the History of American Technology, co-edited with Greg Clancey (1998). Most recently, Smith co-authored (with Pauline Maier, Alex Keyssar and Daniel Kevles) Inventing America: A History of the United States (2002).

 

CLAIRE CALCAGNO
Visiting Scholar, Program in Science, Technology and Society
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Claire Calcagno is a maritime archaeologist currently working in STS as a member of the Research Group in Technology, Archaeology and the Deep Sea (DeepArch). Currently, she is conducting research on Harold E. Edgerton and his seminal engineering contributions to archaeology conducted in submerged contexts. For this investigation, which reviews the developing technologies of underwater archaeology, she is particularly interested in exploring the processes of cross-pollination between the engineering, oceanographic and archaeology communities, both with relevance to how the discipline of maritime archaeology first evolved, as well as to current issues in remote sensing and deep-water research.

Calcagno received her bachelor's degree in fine arts (art history) from Harvard in 1982.   Graduate work in archaeology at the University of Oxford led her to a master's in maritime archaeology (M.St. 1991) and a doctorate  (D.Phil. 1998), with a dissertation on seafaring and maritime exchanges in the Central Mediterranean region between the 12th to 9th centuries BC (due to be published with BAR Archaeopress, Oxford). In recent years, she has taught courses in maritime archaeology and technology at Boston University  (1999-2000), and the University of Southampton (2001), as well as in humanities studies at Stanford University (2000-2001). Her archaeological fieldwork experience has included surveys and excavations on land, in addition to under water in Italy, France, Tunisia, Turkey and Bermuda, and will extend to American waters this spring with a remote sensing project on the USS Monitor with M.I.T./DeepArch.

 

MERTON C. FLEMINGS
Director, Lemelson-MIT Program
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Merton C. Flemings is Toyota Professor of Materials Processing emeritus at M.I.T., where he has been a member of the faculty since 1958. Flemings established the Materials Processing Center at M.I.T. in 1979 and was its first director. He served as Head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering from 1982 to 1995, and from 1998 to 2001 as M.I.T. director of the Singapore-MIT Alliance, a major collaboration between M.I.T. and Singapore in distance engineering education and research. He is author or co-author of 300 papers, 26 patents and two books in the fields of solidification science and engineering, foundry technology, and materials processing. Flemings has received numerous awards and honors, including election to the National Academy of Engineering and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has worked closely with industry and industrial problems throughout his professional career. Flemings is Chairman of the Silk Road Project, a not-for-profit corporation devoted to fostering creativity and celebrating local cultures and global connections.

 

RAYVON FOUCHÉ
Assistant Professor, Science and Technology Studies
Cornell University

As a cultural historian of technology, Rayvon Fouché studies the ways in which the social, cultural and political spheres we inhabit interact with scientific and technological artifacts, practices, and knowledge. His research interests also include American and African American cultural history, the intersections between technology and media representations, and theories of race and racial identification. He aims to bring STS scholarship together with studies of race to understand how racism and racial identification differentially influence various cultural communities during technological creation, development and production.

Fouché's current research continues to consider the relationships between race and technology by exploring the effects that technological developments, pre-analog to post-digital, have on racial and cultural relations. In this work, he examines the ways that technological change references and reflects the fluid meanings of race and the nature of race relations in the United States. He is exploring the ever-shifting racial terrain of the United States in the twenty-first century to provide a new mapping of technological and race relations. 

Fouché has been a post-doctoral fellow of African and Afro-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis and an assistant professor of African American Studies, American Studies and History at Purdue University. He is the author of Black Inventors in the Age of Segregation (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003).

 

ROBERT FRIEDEL
Professor of History of Technology, History of Science, Environmental History
University of Maryland

Robert Friedel received his Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University in1977. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Maryland he was a historian at the Smithsonian Institution and at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He continues extensive work with museums, consulting and collaborating in a range of projects for museums and agencies in Calcutta, Delhi, Stockholm, Munich, Pittsburgh and Washington. He has held fellowships at the Smithsonian, the Hagley Museum, the American Antiquarian Society, and the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology. He has written several monographs on the history of technology, focusing largely on the nature of invention (Pioneer Plastic, Edison's Electric Light, and Zipper: an Exploration in Novelty). In addition he has published numerous articles and shorter works on material culture, as well as the history of technology, ranging from the history of materials to changes in the engineering profession. He is active in numerous capacities for the Society for the History of Technology, and has been a contributing editor for American Heritage of Invention and Technology since 1985, and an advisory editor for Technology & Culture since 1993.

 

LILLIAN HODDESON
Professor of History and Physics
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Lillian Hoddeson specializes in the history of twentieth-century physics and technology. Her current research on scientific creativity and problem-solving draws on her training in physics (Ph.D., Columbia, 1966) and the history of science (Princeton, 1973-1975), as well as her earlier research on how children learn science, and her more recent studies in cognitive psychology at the University of Illinois. All her books-on the atomic bomb (Critical Assembly), solid-state physics (Out of the Crystal Maze), big science in particle physics (The Ring of the Frontier, The Birth of Particle Physics, Pions to Quarks, and The Rise of the Standard Model), the transistor (Crystal Fire), and the life and science of the double Nobel Prize winning physicist John Bardeen (True Genius)-deal with questions of creativity and invention in the production of science and technology. Her extensive use of oral history interviews as a research tool over the last 30 years and her regular graduate seminar on this subject have brought her deeply into questions of individual and collective memory, a subject she is pursuing presently in collaboration with psychologists in the context of a faculty seminar and undergraduate honors course.  She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the Center for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois, in addition to a 2002 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellow.

THOMAS P. HUGHES
Mellon Professor Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania
Distinguished Visiting Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Thomas P. Hughes's most recent books include Rescuing Prometheus (Vintage, 2000); American Genesis (Penguin, 1990), a Pulitzer Prize finalist; and Lewis Mumford: Public Intellectual (Oxford University Press, 1990), edited with Agatha Hughes. He is a member of the American Philosophical Society, U.S. National Academy of Engineering, Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Hughes is a recipient of the Leonardo da Vinci Medal from the Society for the History of Technology. He has also been awarded honorary degrees from The Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and Northwestern University.

 

VICTOR K. MCELHENY
Visiting Scholar, Program in Science, Technology and Society
Former Director and Founder, Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Victor K. McElheny began The Knight Fellowships program at M.I.T. in 1983, originally known as the Vannevar Bush Fellowships in the Public Understanding of Technology and Science. McElheny was the program's creator and leader-mentoring more than 140 science writing fellows-until he retired in June of 1998 to devote full time to writing. Along the way, McElheny assured the program's survival in perpetuity by securing an endowment from the combined funds of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and M.I.T. itself.

McElheny is a longtime science writer who worked for The Charlotte Observer, Science magazine, The Boston Globe and The New York Times, reporting on such topics as science in Antarctica and Europe, the Apollo lunar landing program, and the green revolution in Asia. While at The New York Times during the 1970s, he wrote the first newspaper story describing the genetic engineering technique called recombinant DNA, the subject of intense controversy over several years in the 1970s. Also at The New York Times, he founded one of the first technology columns in American newspapers. McElheny's freelance work has included numerous articles for newspapers and magazines in addition to television writing and appearances. In 1978, he joined Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as the first director of the Banbury Center for conferences on environmental health risks and fundamental biology. He came to M.I.T. in 1982 to create the fellowships program with funding from the Sloan Foundation and the Mellon Foundation.

In 1998, McElheny published a major biography of Edwin Land, the inventor of instant photography and founder of Polaroid Corporation, titled Insisting on the Impossible: The Life of Edwin Land. He is currently at work on a biography of James Watson.

 

DAVID A. MINDELL
Dibner Associate Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

David A. Mindell received his B.S. in electrical engineering and his B.A. in literature from Yale University in 1988, followed by his Ph.D. in the history of technology from M.I.T. in 1996. He was a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow and a fellow at the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology. Before coming to M.I.T., Mindell worked as a staff engineer in the Deep Submergence Laboratory of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where he is currently a visiting investigator. He is also currently an adjunct researcher at the Institute for Exploration in Mystic, CT. His research interests include technology policy (historical and current), the history of automation in the military, the history of electronics and computing, and deep-sea archaeology. Mindell heads M.I.T.'s "DeepArch" research group in deep sea archaeology. He is the author of War, Technology and Experience Aboard the USS Monitor (2000) and Between Human and Machine: Feedback, Control, and Computing before Cybernetics (2002).

 

JOEL MOKYR
Robert H. Strotz Professor of Arts and Sciences
Professor of Economics and History
Northwestern University

Joel Mokyr has an undergraduate degree from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Ph.D. from Yale University. He has taught at Northwestern since 1974, and has been a visiting professor at Harvard, University of Chicago, Stanford, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the University of Tel Aviv, University College of Dublin, and University of Manchester.

Mokyr specializes in economic history and the economics of technological change and population change. He is the author of Why Ireland Starved: An Analytical and Quantitative Study of the Irish Economy, The Lever of Riches: Technological Creativity and Economic Progress, The British Industrial Revolution: An Economic Perspective and his most recent, The Gifts of Athena: Historical Origins of the Knowledge Economy (Princeton University Press, 2002). He has authored over 60 articles and books in his field. Mokyr's books have won a number of important prizes including the Joseph Schumpeter memorial prize (1990) and the Ranki prize for the best book in European Economic history. His current research is an attempt to apply insights from evolutionary theory to long-run changes in technological knowledge. He is also working on The Enlightened Economy: an Economic History of Britain, 1700-1850, to be published as a volume in Penguin's New Economic History of Britain.

He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a former vice president and currently president-elect of the Economic History Association. He served as the senior editor of the Journal of Economic History until July 1998, and is currently serving as editor in chief of the Oxford University Press Encyclopedia of Economic History (to appear in 2003) and the Princeton University Press Economic History of the Western World. He served as chair of the Economics Department at Northwestern University between 1998 and 2001 and was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford between September 2001 and June 2002.

 

ARTHUR P. MOLELLA
Director, Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation
Smithsonian's Institution's National Museum of American History

Under the directorship of Arthur P. Molella, the Lemelson Center has sponsored a series of interdisciplinary programs and exhibits. Most recently, Molella co-curated the international exhibition, Nobel Voices: Celebrating 100 Years of the Nobel Prize. Invention at Play, another exhibition of the Lemelson Center, has embarked on a three-year national tour, following its run at the Smithsonian.

Previously, Molella served as chairman of the Museum's History Department and as head curator for the Smithsonian's Science in American Life exhibition, among others. He received his doctorate in the history of science from Cornell University. He is co-editor of volumes 1-4 of The Papers of Joseph Henry and has written extensively on the relations of technology and culture. Molella is currently preparing a book (with Robert Kargon) on "techno-cities" in the US and Europe. He is also co-editor of Inventing for the Environment, to be published by MIT Press in fall 2003.

He is on the Executive Council of the Society for the History of Technology and has served as the book review and advisory editors for the Society's journal, Technology and Culture. He is a member of the National Advisory Council for the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery of Skidmore College, and sits on the Board of Sponsors for the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University.

 

NATHAN ROSENBERG
Fairleigh S. Dickinson, Jr. Professor of Public Policy Emeritus
Stanford University

Nathan Rosenberg received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin and A.B. from Rutgers University. He has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Purdue University, Harvard University, the University of Wisconsin, The London School of Economics, and Cambridge University. Rosenberg has served as chairman of the Stanford Economic Department. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Bureau of Economic Research, chairman of the advisory board of the UN Institute for New Technology, and a fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Swedish Royal Academy of Engineering Sciences. He is also the recipient of honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Lund and the University of Bologna.

Rosenberg's current research interests are the economics of technological change, the economic role of science, and economic history and development. His current research deals with the role of scientific knowledge in influencing the rate and direction of technological change, determinants of technological change in the chemical sector, determinants of technological change in the medical sector, economic performance of "high tech" industries, and universities as economic institutions. Rosenberg's teaching interests are science and technology in economic growth, comparative economic development, and European and American economic history. His cross-disciplinary interests are in the engineering disciplines, and in interactions between economic, scientific and technological phenomena. Recent Books include: Schumpeter and the Endogeneity of Technology (2001); Paths of Innovation, with David Mowery (1998); and Exploring the Black Box (1994). His professional associations are AEA, Royal Economic Society, Economic History Association, and Swedish Royal Academy of Engineering Sciences.

 

EVAN I. SCHWARTZ
Author and Independent Journalist

Evan I. Schwartz received his B.S. in computer science from Union College in 1986. He is an author and journalist who writes about innovation and the impact of technology on business and society. He is currently a contributing writer for MIT's Technology Review. A former editor at Business Week, he covered software and digital media for the magazine and was part of teams that produced 12 cover stories and won a National Magazine Award and a Computer Press Award. He has also published articles in The New York Times and Wired.

Schwartz' most recent book, The Last Lone Inventor: A Tale of Genius, Deceit, and the Birth of Television (HarperCollins, 2002) tells the story of television inventor Philo T. Farnsworth and his epic battle against RCA tycoon and NBC founder David Sarnoff. His first book, Webonomics (Broadway Books, 1997), anticipated the emergence of the Internet economy. His second book, Digital Darwinism (Broadway Books, 1999), anticipated the Darwinian shakeout among the dotcom species. Each was translated into nine languages and named as a finalist for a Computer Press Award for non-fiction book of the year. He is currently working on a book about the culture of invention, for the Harvard Business School Press. He has recently served as an adjunct lecturer at Boston University's College of Communication.

 

ROSALIND H. WILLIAMS
Robert M. Metcalfe Professor of Writing
Director of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Rosalind H. Williams attended Wellesley College and received a B.A. in history and literature from Harvard College, a M.A. in modern European history from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Williams came to M.I.T. in 1980 as a research fellow in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society. In 1982, she joined the Writing Program (now the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies) as a lecturer. In 1990, Williams was named Class of 1992 Career Development Professor, and in 1995, the Robert M. Metcalfe Professor of Writing. From 1991 to 1993 she served as associate chair of the M.I.T. Faculty, and from 1995 to 2000 as dean of students and undergraduate education.

William's first book, Dream Worlds: Mass Consumption in Late Nineteenth-Century France (University of California, 1982), explores the complicated relations between technological change, cultural values, and marketing techniques at a critical moment in the development of modern consumer society. Her next book, Notes on the Underground: An Essay on Technology, Society, and the Imagination (MIT Press, 1990), explores the implications for human life in the transition from a predominantly natural to a predominantly built environment. As a cultural historian of technology, she has also considered the implications of this transition in studies of Lewis Mumford, Jules Romains, Enlightenment thinkers, and the issue of technological determinism. Her latest book, Retooling: A Historian Confronts Technological Change (MIT Press, 2002) draws upon her experiences as a historian and MIT dean to comment upon our "technological age." Her next book will use literary texts to examine experiences of the world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when global systems of transportation and communication began to affect those experiences in significant and complicated ways.                          


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