My Research InterestsSpecialties: science in American culture with an emphasis on contexts for scientific practice including museums, participation in science through education at every level and public engagement, institutional frameworks for science, women in the natural sciences
Much of my research is at the intersection where scientific practitioners cross paths across disciplinary boundaries to work with each other or with public audiences, educators, and authors. My earliest work was on the formative years of establishing scientific institutions, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, followed by ongoing research dealing with North American (and then comparatively Australian) museums of natural history. Participation in science, especially by women, has led to investigations of science education from the elementary to the collegiate level. All of these topics reveal the dynamic ways in which science has embedded itself in our culture and also make clear the ways in which social, political, and intellectual matters far removed from scientific activity can influence scientists. Much of my work is on the mid-eighteenth century through the early twentieth century, formative years for scientific culture in the United States. I have spent two years in Washington, DC, as a Smithsonian and as a Fulbright fellow, taught at the University of Munich and Cornell, and lectured widely here and abroad. Active in the History of Science Society and serving in numerous capacities including president, I also have been a long-standing and active member of the AAAS including its Section L. Since 1989 I have been part of the Program in the History of Science and Technology and currently direct it as it collaborates with another program at the University of Minnesota to offer graduate degrees in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine.