MIT Reports to the President 1997-98


The 1997-98 year was one of changes and productivity in many different STS arenas. We graduated one new Ph.D., Ms. Rebecca Herzig, who accepted a job at Bates College. We hired two new junior faculty. In one search we received 113 applications, interviewed five finalists, and selected Dr. Jessica Riskin (Ph.D. Berkeley, formerly assistant professor at Iowa State, and this past year a Dibner Fellow) as Assistant Professor and the first holder of new Leo Marx Career Development Chair in the History and Culture of Science and Technology. In the other search, we received 136 applications, interviewed four finalists, and selected Dr. Joseph Dumit (Ph.D., University of California at Santa Cruz, formerly a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard's Department of Social Medicine and a lecturer in MIT's Anthropology Department, and this past year a Dibner Fellow) as Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Science and Technology Studies. We made two promotions: Associate Professor Evelynn Hammonds to tenure, and Associate Professor Louis L. Bucciarelli to Full Professor (joint with the School of Engineering). We hired a new Director for the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program: Mr. Boyce Rensberger from the Washington Post. Our new Core Course for graduate students went through its second iteration. Assistant Professor David Mindell, who joined our faculty last year as the Francis and David Dibner Assistant Professor of the History of Manufacturing and Engineering, successfully mounted, together with Professor Charles Leiserson of Course 6, a major new subject, "The Structure of Engineering Revolutions." We had a stellar colloquium series, including the annual Miller Lecture on Science and Ethics, delivered by Professor Hammonds, and student-organized brown bag discussions. Most importantly we pursued a series of new research agendas through a number of ongoing workshops on: risk and high hazard technologies (led by Dr. Constance Perin, Professor Mindell, and Professor Michael M.J. Fischer); race and science (led by Professor Hammonds); deep water archeology (led by Professor Mindell); environmental cleanup (led by Professor Emeritus Charles Weiner and Professor Fischer); and ethical issues in the biosciences and biotechnologies [led by Professor Fischer and Professors Byron and MaryJo Good (Harvard University, Department of Social Medicine)].


In its tenth 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. One student completed her Ph.D. and immediately obtained a job; three others passed their General Exams. Present and incoming students received a variety of grants and fellowships, including fellowships from the Dibner Institute, the Spencer Foundation, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The HSSST Doctoral Program received 54 applications for the 1998-99 academic year. Three students accepted. This was an odd year, and for idiosyncratic reasons, our initial four top choices did not accept our offer (one choosing to put off graduate school entirely; another choosing between STS, medical school and English, in the end chose English; a third choosing to go where his spouse had an offer; and the fourth after agonizing for weeks chose to go to a place that could offer graduate training in English as well as History of Science). The three students to whom we did offer placements and who accepted our offer, however, are among the original short list and promise a superb and interesting freshman class. One is a minority woman engineer moving towards history of technology; another is a Viennese trained Turkish woman interested in biotechnology in the Muslim world; the third is an Oxford trained Indian biochemist interested in science and development in India.

This was the second year of the Core Course (STS.201/202) proposed at the spring 1996 Faculty Retreat and first taught last year. Built around substantive topics ranging from the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century to the molecular biology revolution, the computer revolution, and environmental issues, the Core Course is an attempt to bring into juxtaposition the different methods and frameworks of the several disciplines that make up the HSSST Program, and thereby to work out, by doing, the distinctive ethos of this interdisciplinary program.

In an on-going plan to stage graduate courses among the Core Course, foundation courses, and electives, next year's required introductory sequence will consist of foundation courses in historiography and anthropology/social theory, along with a one-semester integrative Core Course at the start of the students' second year.

HSSST Graduate Students Ms. Hannah Landecker, Mr. Chris Kelty, and Mr. Ted Metcalfe helped run and participated in the Cultural Studies of Science Seminar Series at the Harvard Center for Literary and Cultural Studies. Professor Fischer was the faculty coordinator from MIT.


Professor Bucciarelli received a grant of $47,485 from France-Telecom to consider a comparative study of the development and use of applications related to Telemedicine in France and in the USA. He will be assisted on this project by HSSST doctoral student Mr. Kelty.

Professor Kenneth Keniston received three grants to support his research on cultural aspects of software localization. The NEC Corporation (via the Provost's MIT Research Support Committee) awarded Professor Keniston $60,000; the Provost's HASS Fund awarded $19,688 and Professor Keniston also received a start-up grant of $10,000 from the Mustard Seed Foundation for this work.

Professor Mindell received three grants to support his research on technology, archaeology and the deep sea. The Wade Fund (via the Provost's MIT Research Support Committee) awarded a grant of $50,000; Professor Mindell has also received $25,000 from the Kaplan Foundation and $41,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

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 Merritt Roe 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 18 undergraduate subjects and 25 graduate subjects. Undergraduate enrollments totaled 344 (fall 160; spring 184). During the 1997-98 academic year there were 5 majors, 3 minors, and 41 concentrators representing the Classes of 1998-2001.

New undergraduate subjects offered in 1997-98 included "History of Manufacturing" (STS.033/STS.275), taught by Professor Smith; "Analog to Agents: The History of Computing" (STS.035), taught by Professor Mindell; "Down and Dirty: Technical Experts, Citizens, and Cleanup Controversies" (STS.095), taught by Professors Fischer and Weiner. New graduate subjects included "The Structure of Engineering Revolutions" (STS.185J), offered by Professors Mindell and Leiserson; and "Research Seminar in the History of Technology" (STS.930-931), offered by Professor Smith.


The 1997 Siegel Prize for the best work by an MIT student in science, technology, and society was shared by Ms. Diane Greco, a fifth year doctoral student in HSSST for her paper "Unspeakable Practices? On the Communicability of Practical Knowledge During the Rise of the British Magnetic Crusade"; and Rob Martello, a third year doctoral student in HSSST for his paper, "Paul Revere's Last Ride: The Road to Rolling Copper." Both of these papers were published as STS Working Papers. The annual Miller Lecture on Science and Ethics was delivered by Professor Hammonds. In May, a retirement dinner was held for Mr. Victor McElheny, Director of the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program, whose MIT affiliation will continue next year as a Visiting Scholar in STS.


In its eighth 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 27 speakers from such institutions as the Universities of Pennsylvania, Maastricht, Wisconsin, Louisiana State, Johns Hopkins, Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Chicago, Cornell, Delhi School of Economics, National Railway Museum (York, England), MIT and Harvard, and covered a wide range of topics from "The Three Gorges and the Central Artery Project," "Nuclear Fusion," "Race, Gender, and Medical Biography," "Art as Medicine, Medicine as Art," "Quantum Teleportation," "The Early History of the Electronic Music Synthesizer," and "The Birth of Scientific Expert Testimony." A series of brown bag lunches on graduate student and postdoctoral projects at other universities were organized by students in the cultural studies of science (on the history of prostheses by Mr. Matthew Price of Stanford University, on the history of prostheses and anomalies in medicine and dentistry by Dr. Edward Seldin of MIT and the Massachusetts General Hospital, on the sociology of acoustics research in Denmark by Mr. Mads Borupof the Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, and on the environmental history of Germany by Ms. Alexandra Schmidt of Christian-Albrechts-Universitaet in Kiel, Germany) and by the students in the history of technology (on the history of prostheses by Mr. David Serlin of New York University, and on the history of shipbuilding by Professor David McGee of the Dibner Institute).

On-going workshops were a major vehicle for developing new research agendas this year:

The workshop on Control in Contexts: High Hazard Technologies in Operation, for instance, was an effort to think through the changing worlds of safety in such high technology industries as aviation, nuclear power, chemical processing, anesthesiology and surgery, and software design. Presentations were made by Dr. David Gaba (Stanford Medical School), Mr. Robert N. Buck (former senior pilot for TWA), Professor John Hansman (MIT, Aeronautics and Astronautics), Mr. Barry Strauch (Chief of Human Performance Section, Aviation Division of the National Transportation Safety Board), Mr. David Lochbaum (nuclear engineer, Union of Concern Scientists), Dr. Elizabeth Drake (Associate Director of MIT's Energy Lab, member National Stockpile Committee of the NRC), Mr. Bernard Fourest (Chief, Nuclear Safety Department, Electricite de France), and Professor Emeritus Leon Trilling (MIT, STS).

The Race and Science Workshop continued in its second year establishing a bibliography, sorting through the conceptual issues in the literature, and creating a community of scholars on the ways in which racial categories bedevil scientific arguments even where race as an analytic category is disavowed.

The Deep Water Archeology Working Group began monthly meetings this spring on the background, new methodologies and instruments, and future plans for the series of Black Sea Trade Route surveys, land and sea excavations.

Down and Dirty: Technical Experts, Citizens, Cleanup Controversies, designed as a workshop-course, brought together technical experts, community activists, and government regulatory agencies involved particularly at two well-known Massachusetts sites, Woburn (drinking water contamination, childhood leukemia) and Cape Cod [Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR) Superfund site, breast and prostate cancers]. Participants included five current or recent MIT and Harvard graduate students in environmental engineering (Ms. Nicole Keon, Mr. David Senn, Mr. Winston Yu, Mr. Scott Hassell, Mr. James Hamilton) along with two of their professors (Assistant Professors Bettina Voelker and Charles Harvey), Ms. Gretchen Latowsky [former organizer of For a Cleaner Environment (FACE), the citizens' organization in Woburn, currently with the John Snow, Inc.], Dr. Richard Clapp (Boston University School of Public Health), Mr. James Murphy (EPA Superfund Community Involvement Coordinator); Ms. Maryann Weygan, Ms. Kathy Engel, and Dr. Joel Feigenbaum (members of the Community Advisory Panel, Massachusetts Military Reservation Superfund Site); Mr. Paul Rifkin (Cape Cod filmmaker); Dr. Robin Wagner [Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) epidemiologist], Dr. Julia Brody (Director, Silent Spring Institute), Dr. Robert Knorr (Massachusetts Department of Public Health epidemiologist), Dr. Louise Ryan and Dr. Marvin Zelen (biostatisticians, Harvard School of Public Health); Dr. Dale Hattis (Center for Environmental Research, Clark University); and Professor David Marks (Director, MIT Center for Environmental Initiatives).

Social and Ethical Issues in the Biosciences and Biotechnologies is also a workshop-course, taught at the Harvard Medical School in the joint MIT-Harvard Health, Science, Technology (HST) Program. Presentations included such topics as the changing political economy of medical science (by Dr. Michael Rosenblatt, Master of the HST track; Dr. Michael Zinner, Chief of Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital); the life course of genetics product development (Dr. James Kaye, Genetics Institute); zenotransplantation, its risks and ethical dilemmas (Dr. Fritz Bach, Beth Israel Hospital); Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) guided therapy and craniotomies (Dr. Ferenc Jolesz, Brigham and Women's Hospital); lasers and minimally invasive coronary surgery (Dr. Sari Aranki, Brigham and Women's); thalasemia and the dilemmas of clinical science (Dr. David Nathan, Director, Dana- Farber Cancer Institute); the shaping of molecular biology and genomics by information theory (Dr. Lily Kay, historian of biology); the use of molecular biology for targeting mental illness (Dr. Bruce Cohen, Director, McLean Hospital); art as medicine, medicine as art (Dr. Eric Avery, psychiatrist and artist, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston); and nanotechnology and biomedicine (Professor Ian Hunter, MIT).

The India/South Asia Forum, convened by Dr. Abha Sur, a Visiting Scholar in STS, is a nascent working group on science and technology in India and South Asia. Initial meetings focused on flaws in economic development assumptions (led by Professor Abhijit Banerjee, Economics, MIT), computer software localization (led by Professor Keniston, STS, MIT), and nuclear tests in India and Pakistan (led by Visiting Professor Parviz Hoodbhoy, University of Maryland).


The STS Newsletter's fall issue focused on issues of science journalism and the public intellectual; and a report on the Dibner Institute workshops on "scientific entities." The spring issue focused on the new course "The Structure of Engineering Revolutions" and the on-going STS workshops. Two new STS Working Papers appeared by Siegel Prize winners Ms. Greco and Mr. Martello.


Now entering their sixteenth 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 sixteenth class of Fellows

includes six journalists from the United States, one from Germany and one from India. During their nine months on campus, 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. Mr. Rensberger, formerly of the Washington Post, begins his duties as new director on July 1, following the retirement of founding director Mr. McElheny. Rensberger's most recent book, Life Itself:

Exploring the Realm of the Living Cell, was published by Oxford University Press in 1997. More information about the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships can be found at the following URL:


Professor Jed Buchwald taught one course and supervised two graduate students. He edited and wrote an introduction for volume 33 of the journal Physics, wrote an article on Hertz, co-authored an article on Thomas Kuhn, and wrote an article for the MacMillan Encyclopedia of Physics on the "Origins of the Wave Theory of Light." He served as a Housemaster, and member of the MIT Museum Board. He became a member of the Einstein Papers Board of Trustees. For the Dibner Institute, he organized a symposium on Thomas Kuhn, and a reunion seminar of talks at Endicott House. He gave talks at a Sloan conference in Toronto, the American Physical Society, the Seven Pines Symposium, on the Ira Flato show on National Public Radio, and at the Dibner conference on Thomas Kuhn.

Professor Fischer co-taught five subjects, coordinated the Core Course for the graduate program, coordinated the Colloquium series, took an active editorial board role in three journals [Late Editions, Public Culture, International Journal of Middle East Studies (IJMES)], was a wrap up commentator at two day-long or multiple-day conferences (at Stanford, at the American Anthropological Association meetings in Washington, DC), gave colloquia at Witwaterstrand and Cape Town Universities, published five encyclopedia essays ("Functionalism," "Structuralism," "Interpretive Anthropology," "Critical Anthropology," "Postmodern Anthropology"), a film review essay (on Jean Rouch and Manthia Diawara), and two book review essays (on anthropological theory; on science studies); wrote two articles ("Worlding Cyberspace," "Before Going Digital/Double Digit/Y2000, A Retrospective of Late Editions,") and was the primary drafter of a co-authored introduction for the second edition of Anthropology as Cultural Critique. Last August, he also co-taught both undergraduate and graduate courses for two weeks at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cape Town. He chaired a search committee and an inter-school promotion committee, oversaw a second search committee, and served on a third search committee.

Associate Professor Deborah Fitzgerald taught three subjects, helped coordinate the fall Core Course for the HSSST graduate students, served as Director of Graduate Studies, served on four dissertation committees; lectured at the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology (Stockholm), Linkoeping University, and Trondheim University; participated in an NSF History of Science conference in Kiev, Ukraine; served on the Dexter Prize Committee (best book in the History of Technology). She served on five MIT Institute committees (Discipline, Writing Requirement, MIT Press, HASS-Equal Opportunity Committee, Women and Minority Faculty Initiative).

Professor Loren Graham, on leave during 1997-98, continued to supervise two doctoral students, served on a search committee, chaired a promotion committee, and gave an STS Colloquium. He published one book in English, What Have We Learned About Science and Technology from the Russian Experience (Stanford), an article ("Russia, Science and Social Constructivism") and a book in Russian (Outline of the History of Russian and Soviet Science), and his A Face in the Rock; The Tale of a Grand Island Chippewa came out in paperback. A book in English (Moscow Stories) is under contract, as is a 12,000 word essay for the Cambridge History of Science, and a Chinese translation of Science in Russia and the Soviet Union: A Short History. He administers grants from the Sloan Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, and NEH; is a member of the advisory committee of the MacArthur Project on Joint Foundation Support for Russian Science and Higher Education; chairs the Selection Committee, Individual Grants in the Former Soviet Union for the MacArthur Foundation, and is a member of the selection committee of the James S. McDonnell Centennial Fellowships. He gave four conference presentations and served on the advisory boards of three professional societies. He conducted a historical tour of local sites and gave a book reading to 80 sixth graders and fifteen adults in Munising, Michigan; and a second book reading at the Munising Public Library. He gave an address to the annual meeting of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, Munising, Michigan.

Associate Professor Hugh Gusterson was on leave during 1997-98. He spent the year at Stanford University drafting a new book. In the fall, he set up a web-page debate forum on the nuclear stockpile policies of the United States, a project technically designed and run by HSSST graduate student, Dr. Babak Ashrafi.

Professor Hammonds was promoted to tenure effective February 1998. She taught four subjects, helped coordinate the fall and spring Core Course for the HSSST graduate students, ran the monthly Workshop on Race in Science, Medicine and Technology, delivered the Arthur Miller Lecture in Ethics and Science at MIT, delivered the William Snow Miller Memorial Lecture at the Department of the History of Medicine, University of Wisconsin, gave a keynote address at Spellman College, was part of a keynote panel at the National Women's Studies Association Meetings, lectured or delivered papers at the University of Illinois-Chicago, UCLA, Northeastern University, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health AIDS Bureau, and the MIT Biology Department. She wrote an article, two reviews, and drafted an introduction for a new book. She served on four MIT committees (Search Committee for new Undergraduate Dean of Admissions; Women's Studies Steering Committee; HSSST Steering Committee, STS; Radcliffe Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies Board and Admissions Committee). She also served as a consultant to NSF, the American Association of Colleges and Universities, and the Women and Scientific Literacy Project.

Professor Evelyn Fox Keller was on leave spring term 1998. In the fall, she taught two courses, as well as one three week module of the HSSST Core Course on modern biology. She serves on two dissertation committees, and supervised a UROP student. She served on a search committee, the Siegel Prize Committee, and the Women's Studies Steering Committee. She organized three workshops and spoke at five conferences. She published two articles ("Developmental Biology as a Feminist Cause," "Explanation in Developmental Biology"), co-authored a third ("Writing and Reading about Dolly"), and wrote five more articles currently in press. A German edition of her book, Refiguring Life, was published.

Professor Keniston published an article on "Politics, Culture and Software" in the Economic and Political Weekly (Bombay), and in the Himal Magazine (Kathmandu), and "Legere, Contare e Consocere il Mondo" in the Italian edition of Technology Review. He received grants from the NEC Fund (MIT), the Provost Fund (MIT), and the Mustard Seed Foundation. He coordinates the India Student Project in Pune, India, a project for MIT students to help with computer connections and literacy in an Indian high school. He participated in site visits at King Fahd University (Saudi Arabia) and the Malaysian University of Science and Technology. He spoke in Bangalore ("Why Indians Can't Compute"), Delhi (on vernacular computing), Kathmandu ("The Forgotten 95% in South Asia"), Torino ("Crisis in Engineering Education"), and Tokyo ("The Information Age").

Professor Mindell completed a book manuscript, Deadly Gripe of Science: Technology, War and Experience aboard the USS Monitor (in press, Johns Hopkins), an article ("Beasts and Systems: Taming and Stability in the History of Control"), two co-authored articles, and a review. He is currently working on a book, A History of Control Systems (also under contract at Johns Hopkins). He was co-principal investigator on two underwater archeology expeditions (Skerki Bank, in the Mediterranean; Midway Expedition to locate and film the wreck of the USS Yorktown). He presented talks at the Rochester Museum and Science Center, the Boston University Conference on Remote Sensing in Archeology, and the Society for Historical Archeology. He won three major grants from the MIT Wade fund, the J. M. Kaplan Fund, and the NSF. He organized and co-taught an innovative new subject in Course 6 and STS, "The Structure of Engineering Revolutions"; as well as a new subject on the history of computing. He also taught a freshman seminar, and co-taught a module on computing in the HSSST Core Course. He serves as Book Review Editor, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine; as a Visiting Scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Deep Submergence Laboratory, and Adjunct Researcher at the Institute for Exploration (Mystic, CT). He is the convener of the Deep Water Archeology Working Group. He served on the HSSST Doctoral Program Admissions committee, the STS Committee on Undergraduate Education, as advisor to one STS undergraduate, and two HSSST graduate students.

Professor Theodore A. Postol co-authored five articles and taught three subjects on technology and policy of weapons systems. He serves as co-organizer of the Security Studies Program's Technology, Defense and Arms Control Seminar Series; and is a member of the Lincoln Laboratory/Campus Interaction Committee. He serves on the editorial boards of International Security, and Science and Global Security. He is a consultant to the Department of Energy's Office of Nonproliferation and National Security, and a member of the Scientific Review Board of Brookhaven National Laboratory. He spoke at workshops on missile defense at Stanford, at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense in London, and at a conference on Start III in Cambridge, MA.

Professor Smith was on leave spring term 1998. In the fall he taught two STS courses. He was the primary thesis advisor for six HSSST doctoral students and a second reader for two HSSST doctoral students. With HSSST doctoral student Mr. Gregory Clancey, he edited Major Problems in the History of American Technology (Houghton Mifflin). He serves on the MIT Museum Board, the MIT Museum Director Search Committee, and the STS faculty search committee for the history of science and technology position. He chaired a panel at the annual meeting of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) and delivered the keynote speech at the Industrial Technology and History Symposium organized by the Japan Research Industries Association, Yokohama, Japan. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Hagley Museum and Library, and the American Museum of Textile History; the Editorial Advisory Boards for Edison Papers, Rutgers University, and the National Park Service; is a book series editor for the Johns Hopkins University Press; and consultant for Unicorn Films.

Professor Sherry Turkle was profiled in the Scientific American (4/98), was named one of the top 50 Cyber Elite by Time Digital Magazine, and one of Boston's Top Wired Women by Boston Webgrrls. Her book, Life on the Screen, came out in paperback and has been translated into eight languages. She published five chapters in books with three more in press; and a journal article. She delivered seventeen invited lectures or conference papers, including keynote addresses to the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Annual Meeting, the National School Boards Association's 11th Annual Technology and Learning Conference, the EDUCOM '97 Annual Meeting, the Nicholas Mullins Memorial Lecture at Virginia Polytechnic Institute; addresses to the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute, Cambridge Hospital's Department of Psychiatry, the CSC Index Senior Management Interchange, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Canadian Business Telecommunications Alliance Annual Conference. She co-taught a popular subject in the Media Lab, helped with the Core Course for HSSST doctoral students, offered a new subject, "Thinking with Objects," as well as her course on computers, gender and identity. She supervised seven student projects, and is a primary advisor or dissertation committee member for three HSSST graduate students. She served on the search committee for the new STS faculty member in cultural studies of science, and serves on the MIT Committee on Privacy.


STS hopes to fill a junior tenure-track position. A search will be run during 1998-99 with the hope of finding someone who has expertise in areas beyond North America and Western Europe. 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 initiatives begun during 1996-97 and 1997-98 will continue during 1998-99 particularly after completing the current series of new hires. 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 the following URL:

Michael M.J. Fischer

MIT Reports to the President 1997-98