About

I am a historian (and occasional philosopher) of modern science and technology, based at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge. I earned a PhD in History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Minnesota, and have worked at Colby College and Michigan State University, and have spend two years as a resident fellow at the Consortium for History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Philadelphia. My interests lie in the sciences of complex matter—solid state physics, condensed matter physics, and materials science—and the ways in which physicists’ philosophical and ideological commitments shaped the institutional structure of these fields. Solid State Insurrection, my 2018 book, traces the growth of American solid state physics, showing how it remade the scope and mission of American physics and the identity of American physicists in ways that helped physics maintain its outsized role on Cold War American society. My current long-term project investigates the role of industrial patronage in post–World War II university research. It complements and contrasts existing accounts of the military-industrial-academic complex at institutions such as MIT, Stanford, and Caltech by examining institutions where industry and academia partnered to order to check government influence over basic research, especially in nuclear science. Examining the conviction that industry support offered an avenue to academic freedom—which might seem strange from a twenty-first century standpoint—offers a fresh perspective on the attitudes that shaped early Cold War science.