2015-2016 Newkirk Fellows

2015 FellowsChasing Science: The New Politics of Knowledge Production
A panel presentation by the 2015-2016 Newkirk Graduate Student Fellows

Monday June 6, 2016

Elizabeth Reddy (Department of Anthropology)         “Instabilities: Mexican Earth and Expertise” (see video)

Alberto Morales (Department of Anthropology)        “Matters of Biodiversity: Marine Natural Products Research and Knowledge Exchange”

Erin Evans (Department of Sociology)                     “Taking Root: Animal Advocacy and the Regulation of Science” (see video)

Stephen Slota (Department of Informatics)              “Troubling the Sciences: Infrastructure, Change and Policy” (see video)

Krista Pfaendler (Program in Public Health)            “Breast and Cervical Cancer Survivorship in Zambia: Quality of Life, Social Support  and HIV/AIDS”

Information on the 2015-16 Newkirk Fellows and their research projects:

Erin Evans, Department of Sociology, School of Social Sciences
How scientists and laboratory culture are influenced by social movement activity, cultural change, and the use of policy reform to try to alter scientific practices

Erin Evans is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology and a 2015-2016 Newkirk Graduate Student Fellow. Her research looks at the effects of civil society on the production of scientific knowledge and how social movement groups and other democratic pressures influence scientific practices. Erin uses the case of animals and research for exploring the long-term effects of social movement activity and policy reform on the institution of laboratory science. She uses a mixed methods approach to her project, including in-depth interviews with scientists, laboratory veterinarians, bioethicists, and other professionals involved in laboratory research with animals, field observation, archival research, and media analyses of newspaper articles from 1900 to 2010. The first article derived from this dissertation project was published in Sociological Perspectives this year.

Alberto Morales, Department of Anthropology, School of Social Sciences
Shifting notions of biodiversity: Marine bio-prospecting in Panama and Costa Rica

Alberto Morales is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology and a 2015-2016 Newkirk Graduate Student Fellow. His research looks at Latin America, specifically Costa Rica and Panama, as leading sources of a new material driving technological innovation: biologically active chemicals harvested from the sea through bioprospecting (the discovery and extraction of substances from ’nature’ to manufacture drugs). His project asks, what happens when Latin American scientists start creating new scientific knowledge about these marine-derived chemicals, when Latin America is the source of new science not just the raw materials? How is the production of this scientific knowledge shaped by its context—both by the long histories of extraction and the local understandings with continuous exposure to neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)? The guiding hypothesis for his research is that scientists in Panama and Costa Rica mobilize new chemical visions of biodiversity to pursue marine bioprospecting with a double promise: 1) to strategically position their blossoming scientific sectors vis-à-vis the global research economy as key sites for developing new medical biotechnologies while 2) simultaneously promoting research that enhances regional projects to combat the legacies of NTDs. Through both archival work and ethnographic methods, including participant-observation and interviews, Alberto will examine the cultural politics of marine bioprospecting and marine biodiversity vis-à-vis NTDs and the growing biotech economy.

Krista Pfaendler, Program in Public Health
Breast and cervical cancer survivorship in Zambia: Quality of life, social support, and the role of HIV/AIDS

Krista Pfaendler is a MPH candidate in the Program in Public Health and a 2015-2016 Newkirk Graduate Student Fellow. Her research seeks to understand quality of life and social support issues for Zambian women diagnosed with advanced stage breast and cervical cancer and to elucidate differences between HIV-positive and HIV-negative women in survivorship, an often neglected part of overall treatment. Through the use of internationally-validated quality of life questionnaires and focus groups of women recruited through the Cervical Cancer Prevention Program in Zambia (CCPPZ) and the Breast Cancer Control Program in Zambia (BCCPZ), Krista will identify concerns for HIV-positive and HIV-negative breast or cervical cancer survivors and potential areas for invention to improve quality of life in survivorship.

Elizabeth Reddy, Department of Anthropology, School of Social Sciences
An ethnographic inquiry into how practioners, scientists and policymakers use technoscientific tools to address the question of how a vulnerable community can be alerted to an imminent threat

Elizabeth Reddy is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology and a 2015-2016 Newkirk Graduate Student Fellow. Her research focuses on seismicity and its effects in the social and technical world.  Her dissertation focuses on Mexico’s Sistema Alerta Sísmica Mexicana, the world’s first and oldest public earthquake early warning system, which can alert Mexico population centers sometimes more than a minute before they are shaken by strong earthquakes. Documenting the work of an interdisciplinary group of practitioners, policymakers, and scientists on a tool available for public use, Elizabeth explores the ideas and practices which inform ongoing disaster prevention strategies in Mexico and around the world. In ongoing collaborations, particularly with US and Mexican practitioners and scientists, she communicates about her findings and contributes to the ongoing international development of earthquake early warning.

Stephen Slota, Department of Informatics, School of Information and Computer Sciences
Troubling the sciences: Infrastructures supporting scientific and policy processes

Stephen Slota is a PhD candidate in the Department of Informatics and a 2015-2016 Newkirk Graduate Student fellow. His research examines NSF-funded organization, EarthCube, an international Cyberinfrastructure project, as a means of better understanding and improving the design of widespread, heterogeneous scholarly information spaces and understanding their sociopolitical consequence. His research work seeks to develop an account of the relationships and infrastructures that allow knowledge produced within and for scientific communities to affect, construct or influence the framing of organizational and government policy. Stephen uses a mixed-method approach consisting of qualitative historical, sociological, and ethnographic methods to develop models of the infrastructures that support the movement of knowledge within and outside of academia. This will impact our understanding of our capabilities and responsibilities as humans on the earth; improve the use of new scientific knowledge in the writing of policy; and help to engage citizens in both the scientific process and the political processes that leverage scientific knowledge. Better understanding of how knowledge is leveraged, valued, communicated, and interpreted as it moves from scholarly communities into other vocations and disciplines can mold new modes of knowledge expression, encourage informed citizen science, and suggest new means of representing scientific knowledge and controversy in the policy arena.