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2023-24 Colloquium Series

The Science Studies Colloquium Series takes place on Mondays from 12:15pm-1:45pm in the Arts and Humanities Building, 6th Floor, Room 624 or by zoom.

To be added to our colloquium email list please email

Fall Quarter 2023

October 2, 2023

Science Studies Program Meeting
SSP faculty and students only 

October 9, 2023 (Zoom Lecture)

Marisa Brandt
Academic Specialist
Lyman Briggs College
Emily York
Associate Professor, ISAT
James Madison University

Critical STS Pedagogy as Collaborative Infrastructures: Our journeys from SSP to STEM Teaching & Learning Research 

As scholars trained in both Communication and Science Studies at UCSD, the authors both saw STS as a framework for studying and critiquing technoscientific communities from the outside. When we became professors, we each found that being critical “outsiders” was no longer viable: in our teaching and in our institutions, we had opportunities and responsibilities to work with STEM students and colleagues. In this talk, we chart our parallel, and sometimes intersecting, journeys from critical STS observers of other technoscientific worlds, to teacher-scholars who reflexively work to bring STS both into our classrooms and our broader institutions in the hopes of forging new collaborative infrastructures for technoscientific education. This has also allowed us to participate in assembling an international academic community of critical STS educators. In the first half of the talk, we discuss how we each came to see and use STS as a critical pedagogy for STEM education praxis. In the second half, we describe how we came to extend this work institutionally through an ongoing research project with partners across four institutions. Through this work, we have come to understand the potential for critical STS pedagogies as infrastructures for collaborative research, as evidenced in the STS as a Critical Pedagogy Workshop (NSF #1921545) and the Collaborative Research and Education Architecture for Transformative Engagement With STS (CREATE/STS, NSF #2121207). We also invite you to join us on October 16 for “Bringing Critical STS Approaches Into Undergraduate STEM Education: A Workshop.”


October 16, 2023 (Zoom Workshop)

Marisa Brandt
Academic Specialist
Lyman Briggs College
Emily York
Associate Professor, ISAT
James Madison University

Bringing Critical STS Approaches into Undergraduate STEM Education: A Workshop

In Part II of our SSP Colloquium on “Critical STS Pedagogy as Collaborative Infrastructures” (October 9) we bring theory into action in an interactive pedagogy workshop. Grounded in our own teaching experiences and collaborative research, we highlight educational practices that can inspire and motivate undergraduate STEM students toward critical STS sensibilities, and that cultivate their capacities to be sociotechnical thinkers and interdisciplinary collaborators in their majors, internships, and jobs. In this hands-on workshop, we will demonstrate several techniques and approaches for enacting critical STS pedagogies in the undergraduate STEM classroom, including an interactive demonstration of the “Creative Anticipatory Ethical Reasoning” (CAER) framework developed in the STS Futures Lab. The CAER framework is also a central component of the CREATE/STS research project described in the October 9 SSP Colloquium. Note: The two talks can stand alone, though we encourage participants to attend both sessions for a more complete picture of the project. 

October 24, 2023

Student Choice Speaker: Gabrielle Hecht
Professor of History and (by courtesy) Anthropology
Stanford University

Residual Governance: How South Africa Foretells Planetary Futures

Residual Governance dives into the wastes of gold and uranium mining in South Africa to explore how communities, experts, and artists fight for infrastructural and environmental justice. Mining in South Africa is a prime example of what Hecht theorizes as residual governance—the governance of waste and discard, governance that is purposefully inefficient, and governance that treats people and places as waste and wastelands. Ultimately, Hecht argues, the history of mining in South Africa and the resistance to residual governance and environmental degradation is a planetary story: the underlying logic of residual governance lies at the heart of contemporary global racial capitalism and is a major accelerant of the Anthropocene

Bio: Gabrielle Hecht is Professor of History and (by courtesy) Anthropology at Stanford University. Her previous award-winning books include Being Nuclear: Africans and the Global Uranium Trade and The Radiance of France: Nuclear Power and National Identity after World War II.




October 30, 2023 (Zoom Lecture)

Aspen K.B.Omapang
Information Science PhD student
Cornell University 

A Walk Down Dole Avenue: Disruption, Resistance, and Relations From Within the Academe

Often the neo-liberal academy institutionalizes a settler-colonial logic of extractivism unto researchers. For example, instead of using our position to transfer power, resources, and access to communities, academics instead appropriate knowledge to gain high-status among peers. Black feminisms and decolonial scholar-activists have prompted us to do more than think and instead challenge Imperialism and Western thought. Using our academic identities and affiliations as conduits for resource redistribution, this talk explores modes in which folks have wrecked, scavenged, retooled, and reassembled the settler-colonial university into anti-colonial contraptions.

During this talk, I will begin by outlining a few theoretical and methodological approaches to disruptive and resistive praxis. Next, I will contextualize the position of “academic” against the history of academic land dispossession and current settler colonial acts of the academe. Lastly, I will turn to the ongoing resistance to academic conferences as a practical case study of these practices. 

Aspen will be joined by discussant Keolu Fox Ph.D., Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian), Anthropology, UC San Diego


November 6, 2023 

Coffee and Cookies: Drop-In Hour with SSP Faculty

SSP Grads only


November 13, 2023 (Zoom Lecture)

Anna Bonnell Freidin
Assistant Professor of History
University of Michigan

Childbirth and Communities of Care in Ancient Rome

How did Romans mitigate the risks of childbirth? This talk will explore the communities marshaled to protect birthing people and their offspring. Amulets—whether made of stone, plants, or something else—will be our primary focus, as they reveal a networked approach to uncertainty by drawing together human and nonhuman agencies.


November 20, 2023

Palashi Vaghela, Phd
UCSD President’s Postdoctoral Fellow  

Department of Communication 

Hidden in Plain Sight: Decoding Inscriptions of Caste and Gender in Computing

Recent caste discrimination lawsuits in Silicon Valley have renewed global interest in the phenomenon of caste, this time in the computing industry. A recent bill in California (SB403,) emerging from the anti-caste activism in the technology industry, also proposed to add explicit legal caste protections in the US. Caste has been added in nondiscrimination policies of universities like Brown and Brandeis and firms like Apple and IBM in the last 3 years. This recent attention is set against a long-standing counter-narrative in the global Indian diaspora that computing is essentially meritocratic and, thus, casteless.

In this talk, I show how this myth of castelessness is produced, maintained, broken or worked-around within the global computing industry. I discuss how caste is reconfigured in the modern context of computing, how casteism is sustained and kept hidden, how casteist narratives of merit are challenged, and consequently, why this matters. To do this, I will draw on two years of ethnographic work in India and the Indian diaspora with Dalit (formerly untouchable) and upper-caste women engineers to reveal the relationship between caste, gender and computing. I will elaborate how a Dalit feminist study of caste and its complexities offer methodological and epistemological interventions in the analysis of socio-cultural worlds of technology 

November 27, 2023 (In-Person)

Davide Carpano
PhD Candidate
Sociology and Science Studies
UC San Diego

The Corporate Roots of Free and Open Source Software: IBM’s Adoption of the Linux Operating System, 1998-2005

This talk discusses IBM’s adoption of the Linux operating system between 1998-2005, documenting an early episode of corporate adoption of free and open source software (FOSS). My research – based on 30 oral histories, and a broad range of archival documents – complicates narratives around the origins of FOSS, which see it as a movement rooted in the needs and practices of developers who are depicted as craftsmen or artisans that protect their projects from corporate incursion. Contrary to this view, I show how corporate participation played a critical role in shaping key FOSS projects like Linux, contributing to the success they have enjoyed over the previous two decades. During this time, FOSS has become a critical part of the infrastructure undergirding data capitalism, enabling and facilitating flows of data. In this talk I will discuss how IBM played a role in creating the social infrastructure through which these open projects could be influenced by corporate actors and discuss the implications of my research for our understanding of how power functions in open sociotechnical systems.

December 4, 2023

"We are All Latourians Now"

Bruno Latour’s Legacy for the Practical Ethics of Ecology and Health

Please visit the website for details and registration

No Colloquium

Finals Week

Winter Quarter 2024

January 8, 2024

Science Studies Program Meeting
SSP faculty and students only 

January 15, 2024

No Colloquium
Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday 

January 22, 2024 (Zoom Only)

Caley Horan
Associate Professor
History Department

Investing in the Stars: Financial Astrology in Modern America

This talk charts a history of financial astrology in the twentieth-century United States, contextualizing “market gazing” within the histories of both economic forecasting and astrological practice and consumption. The talk begins with a brief discussion of major changes to both fields during the early years of the century. It then moves to the 1930s-1950s, a period marked by financial astrology’s interactions with interdisciplinary academic research on cycles and its embrace by technical analysts (or “chartists”). The next stop in the talk is the 1980s, when financial astrologers blended chartist methods devised in the 1940s and 1950s with new computing technologies and a therapeutic ethos connected to the rise of New Age culture. The talk closes with a discussion of the mainstreaming of financial astrology in the twenty-first century and offers some tentative conclusions concerning the significance of astrology’s long relationship with economic life in the United States.


January 29, 2024 (Hybrid)

Meet the Creature

In this colloquium, five faculty in the UC San Diego Science Studies Program will provide introductions to their research: Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra in Sociology, Cathy Gere in History, Lilly Irani in Communication, David Pedersen in Anthropology, and David Serlin in Communication. The aim is to give Science Studies graduate students a sense of the faculty’s current work, but the event is open to all. 


February 5, 2024 (Zoom Lecture)

Nick Seaver
Assistant Professor, Anthropology
Director, Science, Technology & Society
Tufts University

Computing Taste: Care and Control in Algorithmic Recommendation

The people who make music recommender systems have lofty goals: they want to broaden listeners' horizons and help obscure musicians find audiences, taking advantage of the enormous catalogs of music streaming services. But for their critics, recommender systems seem to embody all the potential harms of algorithms: they flatten culture into numbers, they normalize ever-broadening data collection, and they profile their users for commercial ends. This talk presents the results of several years of ethnographic fieldwork with makers of music recommendation in the US, describing how they navigate the tensions between care and control in the construction of algorithmic systems.

February 12, 2024 (Zoom Lecture)

Leah Horgan

Postdoctoral Fellow (Computing Innovation Fellow)
Northwestern University


Data as Deferral: Risk and Resources in the Los Angeles Data-Driven Homelessness Initiative

Data-driven and smart city approaches are now an unquestioned obligatory point of passage for policymaking and problem solving in the city, with applications ranging from wildfire management to education to economic crises. This talk examines not whether new data technologies and smart projects are equitable or live up to their potential, but rather how the emphasis on and investment in becoming data-driven—or driving problem-solving through data, models, and dashboards—produces vast material and epistemic infrastructures of data-drivenness while deferring other forms of political action and will. The analysis centers on the Los Angeles Mayor’s data-driven homelessness initiative, a project that monitored houseless communities through cross-departmental collaborations and academic partnerships. Utilizing data dashboards, houseless individuals are paradoxically portrayed as both at risk and as risks, particularly as risks for exhausting the city’s limited resources. This talk contends that the axiomatic notion of "limited resources" in public administration, coupled with emerging data-driven tools, justifies increased (and resource-intensive) investments in surveillance and data infrastructures, while datafying rather than meaningfully addressing entrenched social issues.

February 19, 2024

Presidents' Day Holiday
No Colloquium

February 26, 2024 

Susanna Lindstrom
Visiting scholar at Scripps: KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Stockholm, Sweden


Co-Environing the Ocean and Climate: The Argo program

The Argo Program is an international scientific network that coordinates observations of the global ocean. In operation since the late 1990s, Argo has significantly increased the amounts of ocean data that are available for scientists and others to use, and fundamentally informs climate models. In this talk, I will consider how the Argo program – including the physical floats, the data they record, and the strategies, expectations and motivations formulated around the program – has environed the ocean in relation to climate change over the past two decades. I will discuss the implications of the resulting interlinking of ocean and climate science and policy for perceptions of ocean sustainability, suggesting that the prominence of prediction in studies of climate change has informed a similar narrative also for ocean governance. I will then place this argument in the context of contemporary formulations surrounding so-called digital twins of the ocean, suggesting that ideas of prediction made possible by Argo contribute to visions of a human-ocean relationship increasingly centered around notions of control, active management and economic development. 


March 4, 2024 

Joyce Havstad
Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy
University of Utah

The Two (Misconduct Response) Cultures 

A somewhat recent guest post at Retraction Watch—by Plastic Fantastic (2009) author Eugenie Reich—distinguishes two types of characteristic response by American research institutions to allegations of research or professional misconduct in science.  The first type is dubbed “Investigate and Disclose” and the second “Delay and Deny” or “Delay and Downplay.”  Reich’s own study of how, in the early 2000s, Bell Labs handled allegations of research misconduct by physicist Jan Hendrik Schön purportedly showcases the first of these two types of response. 

However, many of us are likely also familiar with cases that seem to fit the second type.  Here we might have in mind how Duke responded in the 2010s to allegations of research misconduct within the lab of pulmonologist William Michael Foster as well as that of cancer researcher Anil Potti.  We might also be thinking about how UT Austin has (or has not) responded to allegations of professional misconduct by biology and philosophy professor Sahotra Sarkar.  Harvard’s ongoing handling of related allegations pertaining to the behavior of anthropologist John Comaroff might seem pertinent as well.

As Reich puts it, “A Delay and Deny response is not helpful to anyone outside a tiny inner circle of administrators, irrespective of the merit of the allegations.”  This, along with the seeming prevalence of this type of response, raises the following question: how does a response as unhelpful, cliquish, and ethically dubious as this arise—much less endure and propagate?  And: what purportedly justifies this behavior, amongst those displaying it?

In this talk, I will present data from my recent experience as lead of the Research Ethics Consult (REC) service at the University of Utah—data which I think sheds some light on these darker practices within research ethics and research administration.  The relationship between these two domains is an evolving and a fascinating one, deserving of careful study.  Efforts to combat fraud in science, or address the replication crisis, often gesture towards the need for greater oversight and management of research.  But I will argue that further investment in administrative or bureaucratic rules, regulation, and policy is not necessarily a reliable route to enhanced ethicality.

March 11, 2024

Chris Willoughby

Assistant Professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies
University of Nevada

Masters of Health: Racial Science in Antebellum American Medical Schools

Medical science in antebellum America was organized around a paradox: it presumed African Americans to be less than human yet still human enough to be viable as experimental subjects, as cadavers, and for use in the training of medical students. By taking a hard look at the racial ideas of both northern and southern medical schools, Christopher D. E. Willoughby reveals that racist ideas were not external to the medical profession but fundamental to medical knowledge. In documenting this pedagogy, his talk charts the rise of racist theories in U.S. medical schools, throwing new light on the extensive legacies of slavery in modern medicine.

March 18, 2024

No Colloquium
Finals Week

Spring Quarter 2024

April 1, 2024

Science Studies Program Meeting
SSP faculty and students only  

April 11, 2024 

Science Studies Graduate Student Symposium


April 15, 2024 (In-person)

Salih Can Aciksoz
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
UC Los Angeles

A Terrorist Ambulance: War, Health, and Humanitarianism in the Middle East 

Where lies the distinction between humanitarianism and terrorism in our contemporary political milieu? What are the medical, ethical, and political dilemmas that humanitarian physicians face when states conflate medical humanitarianism with terrorism? In this talk, I address these questions by focusing on the unprecedented politicization and, at times, criminalization of humanitarian medicine along and across Turkey’s militarized Syrian border. Examining the vexed relationship between war and healthcare in the Turkish/Kurdish/Syrian borderlands, I show how the political constructs of humanitarianism and terrorism stand in a complicated relation to state sovereignty, illustrating both its immanent logics and its limits.


April 22, 2024 

bt werner
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
UC San Diego
Climate Crisis as Resistance: The Science Behind Solidarity with Earth

The scientific consensus on climate change, that societal “activities, principally through emissions of greenhouse gases, have unequivocally caused global warming…” (IPCC), asserts a global problem with a singular cause and a circumscribed solution that must be designed and implemented principally by STEM and policymaking experts. In contrast, Indigenous collectives, communities and Nations diagnose the climate crisis as a symptom of a long-duration illness, a cleansing fire, Earth’s resistance movement against colonialism, capitalism, racism and patriarchy (Futuros Indigenas; MK Nelson), which manifests as disparate disruptions to the human world and local struggles led by those with close and extensive relations with the more-than-human world. In this seminar I introduce a framework, based in complex systems science, with which scientific and Indigenous analyses can be compared. Using this scientific framework,  I explore general characteristics of systems of power, injustice, and resistance against injustice, and I argue that societies characterized by a focus on efficiency lose capacity to adapt, that patterns of resistance enter into an indirect, long-term relationship with power that can quantitatively characterized on a scale from stabilizing to destabilizing (revolt), and that the Indigenous conception of the climate crisis as Earth’s resistance has a scientific basis. I conclude with an open discussion of possibilities for joint struggle/solidarity with a revolting Earth in the midst of a climate crisis.

April 29, 2024 (Hybrid Lecture)

BoYun Chen
Associate Professor
History & Asian Studies

Swarthmore College

Managing Life and Livelihoods in the Ryukyu Islands 

Composed of fifty-five major islands, the Ryukyu archipelago extends from Japan’s southernmost main island of Kyushu to Taiwan. Throughout the islands’ history, disruptions incurred by trade, imperialism, war, and increased resource extraction yielded long-lasting environmental impacts on the islands, as well as social and political consequences. Increased trade resulted in population growth and rising agricultural productivity during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, followed by significant deforestation. The last centuries of the Ryukyu Kingdom (?-1879) constituted a crucial era in the political economy of the islands, during which the court instituted new bureaucratic offices to regulate agricultural land, forests, and craft production. Redistribution of land, the growing of new crops, and selective afforestation transformed the local ecology. Such an extensive rearrangement of the physical environment of the islands impacted the materials with which farmers and craftsmen worked and accordingly, their livelihoods. Shifting our attention to the peripheries of empires, this talk interrogates the deep entanglements of material circulation, laboring bodies, embodied skills, and local ecologies during an era of resource depletion.

May 6, 2024 (Zoom Lecture)

Kathleen Connelly
PhD Candidate 
Department of Philosophy and Science Studies
UC San Diego

May 13, 2024


May 20, 2024 (Zoom Lecture)

Polina Petruhkina
Visiting Scholar with Philosophy and Science Studies
Moscow State University


May 27, 2024

No Colloquium
Memorial Day Observance

June 3, 2024