HPS Graduate Students
I have always been fascinated with the history of science and technology. I believe that this particular historical field coheres many different academic disciplines and transcends many traditional historiographical boundaries (geographical, temporal, etc.), providing its students with a uniquely comprehensive view of human behavior through the ages. Since arriving at Stanford in the fall of 2008, I have focused my research on the historical relationship between materials engineering and design, business, and environmental and health concerns. My dissertation will explore the historical trajectory of plastics engineering, illuminating shifts in the major plastics feedstocks from bio-based materials through about 1940, to petroleum through the turn of the twenty-first century, with a current shift back to bio-based materials. Resource logistics, policy, and profit projections have all influenced these shifts, and my dissertation is likewise designed to appeal to historians and engineers, policymakers and businesspeople. Studying and working at Stanford has also afforded me the opportunity to enjoy the adventurous and cosmopolitan vibe of the Bay Area. Sailing, dancing, camping, and sports are some of my favorite activities in and around my home in San Francisco.
"As to the fable that there are Antipodes," St. Augustine wrote in the fifth century, "that is to say, men on the opposite side of the earth... men who walk with their feet opposite ours, that is on no ground credible."
I am driven to seek our Antipodes - to pursue awareness of how the ideas and visions of our present are both helped and hindered by the knowledge and assumptions we inherit from our past - to discover ground credible, un-credible, and incredible. I'm drawn to topics in which humanity directly confronts fundamental questions of existence, questions asked in one form or another by men and women in the past, questions that remain with us, often in new forms, in the present. They echo through centuries, even millennia. What do we know of the universe? How do we understand matter, space, and time? What is man in relation to other life? What is the self, the mind and/or (a more recent development) the brain?
I am also interested in the interaction between natural philosophical, and later scientific, knowledge and law, politics and power.
I graduated from Harvard University in 2004 with a degree in astrophysics. Thereafter, I worked in neuroscience research for four years before commencing graduate studies in 2008.
I entered the PhD program in History at Stanford in the fall of 2011. I did my undergraduate work at Princeton and have a law degree and a masters in liberal arts from Stanford. Before entering the PhD program, I had careers as a corporate securities lawyer and as an entrepreneur and executive in software companies. My primary interests are in the history and philosophy of biology, particularly evolutionary biology and ecology. I am especially interested in the applications of principles of complex systems to biological processes. My current plan for my dissertation is an historical and philosophical analysis of the "tree of life" diagram from Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species. I want to analyze how Darwin came upon the idea for the diagram, how he developed it, and how it can provide us a window through which we can better understand his thinking. I also argue that the diagram can give us a useful framework for analyzing a number of current questions in the philosophy of biology and in evolutionary biology more generally. I am married, have two children and live in San Francisco. I am an avid skier and cook.
I began the Stanford PhD program in the History of Science in 2009 after completing an undergraduate degree in History and Philosophy at Columbia University. I wrote an undergraduate thesis on the importance of occult sciences to the 16th century study of cosmography, which encompassed the first extensive English writings about the Americas. At Stanford, I am continuing to investigate the history of early-modern European thought in its global context. When not reading, I have been a classical music radio DJ on WKCR FM New York. I like Go, maps, body-surfing, folksinging, and food of all kinds. I believe in rhetoric and the Renaissance dictum, "History is philosophy teaching by example."
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