Skip to main content

2019-20 Colloquium Series

The Science Studies Colloquium Series takes place every Monday of the quarter from 12:15p-1:45p in Room 3027, Humanities & Social Sciences Building, Muir College campus, unless noted otherwise.

A reception for the colloquium speaker takes place before the talk from 11:45p-12:15p in Room 3005, Humanities & Social Sciences Building.

Sign up here to be notified of our upcoming colloquium lectures.

Fall Quarter 2019

September 30, 2019

Science Studies Program Meeting

SSP faculty and students only

October 7, 2019



October 14, 2019

John Cheney-Lippold

Associate Professor, Department of American Culture
University of Michigan

Accidents Happen: The Ontological Difference in Statistics and Algorithmics

Catherine Malabou writes of the accident as an “explosive transformation,” the becoming of “someone else, an absolute other, someone who will never be reconciled with them selves again.”

In this talk, I will explore several instances of what we can call “accidental transformations”— the use of statistics to invalidate the signature of a multimillion dollar will, the use of statistics to objectify racial categories in the case of People vs. Collins, and the accidental algorithmics that led to the lethal collision of a Tesla autonomous driving vehicle—to demonstrate how statistics and algorithms are fundamentally transformative, resulting in the production of an epistemic other, a “someone else” that escapes our own metaphysical assumptions. This escape forces us to take into account the accidental nature of statistics and algorithmics, the ontological incommensurability between our world, a world of perception, and its statistical/algorithmic cousin, a world of calculation. Ultimately, this lecture will aim to productively reorient many of the pressing questions and debates being had in terms of algorithmic bias, ethics, and ideas of justice.

October 21, 2019

Travis Chamberlain

PhD Candidate, Department of Philosophy & Science Studies
UC San Diego 

The Pragmatist Commitment to Non-Commensurable Capabilities: Balancing Decision-Making Usefulness of Capabilities Indices Against their Distortionary Measurements

Many contemporary capabilities measures aggregate or completely rank sets of indicators.  Call such measures “Capabilities-Based Index Measures” (CBIMs).  Capabilities approach founders Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum hold that different kinds of well-being values are intrinsically non-commensurable (1987, 1992, 2005, 2009, 2011), meaning different kinds of well-being indicators cannot be completely aggregated or ranked along a single scale.  Because they do not cohere with the non-commensurability of well-being values, CBIMs are at least significantly distortionary.  And yet CBIMs continue to be widely used.  Why is this?  
Inasmuch as CBIMs can point to a specific context and purpose, they may have justification for transgressing non-commensurability of well-being values. Capabilities measures that rank entire populations against one another in a spirit of determining how to award aid may have a justification for treating CBIM rankings as competitive scores, similar to scores given in athletic competitions like figure skating or decathlons.  However, we should be wary of the obtuseness of such measures.  For example, sensitivity analysis of different permutations of weightings of the Human Development Index HDI problematically shows significant shifts in aggregated rankings. And yet, sensitivity analysis of the multidimensional poverty index (MPI) that aggregates capabilities deprivations instead of individual capabilities (the HDI) shows less significant shifts in rankings.  Perhaps because capabilities deprivations cluster, MPI rankings less problematically transgress non-commensurability of well-being values than do HDI rankings.  These examples highlight how contemporary well-being measures balance coherent measurement system representations and operationalizations against context and purpose-relevant usefulness. 


October 28, 2019

Morana Alac

Associate Professor, Department of Communication & Science Studies
UC San Diego

November 4, 2019





November 11, 2019

No Colloquium

Veterans Day Holiday


November 18, 2019

Thomas Conner

PhD Candidate, Department of Communication & Science Studies
UC San Diego



November 25, 2019

Matthew Shindell

Curator, Planetary Science and Exploration, Space History Department
Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum

December 2, 2019

Joan Donovan

Director of the Technology and Social Change Research Project 2019
Harvard Kennedy School- Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy  

What is Media Manipulation?

Journalists face a barrage of information and they must make choices about which stories to cover based on available source materials. Some stories, though, are just that, stories. Our research maps and tracks attempts by “media manipulators” to influence journalists and bait them into picking up false stories. During breaking news events, media manipulators act quickly to establish their narratives by creating and seeding content in order to trick journalists into covering specific highly politicized wedge issues. Manipulators often rely on the speed and ubiquity of social media, which has quickened the pace of news, to make wide scale distribution of polarizing hoaxes possible. Manipulation campaigns are planned and executed across multiple platforms online simultaneously in an effort to capture a wide audience of both everyday users and to ensnare journalists. Broadly, we refer to these tactics as “source hacking,” a versatile set of techniques for feeding false information to journalists, investigators, and the general public during breaking news events or across highly polarized wedge issues. In this paper, we examine four different methods of "source hacking" and show how media manipulators rely on the specific affordances of sociotechnical platforms to surface false information and consequently sway and/or set media agendas. While most journalists are trained to spot savvy public relations, promotional content, and to avoid publishing propaganda, in this networked media environment, hoaxes assume new forms and often mask themselves as social movements. In order for journalists to effectively spot and debunk these hoaxes, theory and methods for addressing source hacking must be developed and widely disseminated across journalism schools and newsrooms.

December 9, 2019

No Colloquium

Finals Week

Winter Quarter 2020

January 6, 2020

Andrea Muehlebach

Associate Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies
Colgate University



January 9-10, 2020

Evelynn Hammonds

Chair, Department of the History of Science

Harvard University


January 13, 2020



January 20, 2020

No Colloquium

Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday 


January 27, 2020



February 3, 2020

Kyle Whyte

Timnick Chair in the Humanities
Associate Professor of Philosophy & Community Sustainability
Michigan State University



February 10, 2020

Olivia Weisser

Associate Professor of History, College of Liberal Arts
University of Massachusetts Boston



February 17, 2020 

No Colloquium

Presidents' Day Holiday


February 24, 2020

Margaret Schabas

Professor, Department of Philosophy
The University of British Columbia

March 2, 2020

Natalie Porter

Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology
University of Notre Dame


March 9, 2020

Nicolas Wey Gómez

Professor of History, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences



March 16, 2019

No Colloquium

Finals Week

Spring Quarter 2020

March 30, 2020

Science Studies Program Meeting

SSP faculty and students only

April 4, 2020

Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga

Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society (STS)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


April 13, 2020

Sarah Shostak

Associate Professor of Sociology and Health: Science, Society, and Policy (HSSP)
Brandeis University


April 20, 2020

Poyao Huang

PhD Candidate, Sociology & Science Studies
UC San Diego


April 27, 2020

Mary Morgan

Albert O. Hirschman Professor of History and Philosophy of Economics, Department of Economic History
London School of Economics and Political Science



May 4, 2020

Chad Valasek

PhD Candidate, Communication & Science Studies
UC San Diego


May 11, 2020

Kadija Ferryman

Researcher/Mozilla Fellow
Data & Society Research Institute


May 18, 2020

Sarah Sachs

Postdoctoral researcher, Science & Technology Studies
Cornell University


May 25, 2020

No Colloquium 

Memorial Day Observance


June 1, 2020


June 8, 2020

No Colloquium

Finals Week






Ricahrd Boyd, Cornell University
John Helly, SD Supercomputer Center
Thomas Dunlap, Texas A&M University
Larry Schneiderman, UC San Diego
Greg Bantick, Pacific College of Oriental Medicine
Rick Jonasse, UC San Diego
JoAnne Yates, MIT
Joseph Goguen, UC San Diego
Rogers Hollingsworh, University of Wisconsin
Peter Galison, Harvard University
James Fleming, Colby College
Scott Miles, U.S. Geological Survey, Western Region Earthquake Hazards Team
Jean Lave, UC Berkeley
Sandra Mitchell, University of Pittsburgh.
John Kadvany, Principal, Policy and Decision Science, Menlo Park
Helen Rozwadowski
Kaspar Elkildsen, Graduate student at Freie Universitat, Berlin.
Craig Callender, UC San Diego
Rick Grush
Fernando Elichirigoity, Long Island University
Lawance Badash, UC Santa Barbara
Peter Reill


Ed Hutchins, UC San Diego
Paul Churchland, UC San Diego
Chandra Mukerji, UC San Diego
Patricia Churchland, UC San Diego
Steven Quartz, Cal Tech
Geoffrey Bowker, UC San Diego
Benjamin Sims, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Michael Root, University of Minnesota
Helena Karasti, Visiting Post Doctoral Researcher
Linda Strauss, Pacific Northwest College of Art
Dominique Boullier, Universite' de Technologie
William Clark, UC San Diego Affiliate and NSF Scholar
Kasper Eskildsen, Freie Universitat
Robert Brain, Harvard University
Wenda Bauchspies, Penn State Univeristy
Aaron Mauck, UC San Diego
Evelyn Fox Keller, Cal Tech/MIT
David Kaiser, MIT
Assistant Professor, Program in Science, Technology, and
Richardson, University of British Columbia
Martha Poon, UC San Diego
Bruno Latour, Center de sociologie de 1novation at the Ecole nationale superieure de mines
Charles Briggs, UC San Diego
Warwick Anderson, UCSF


Robert Engler, UC San Diego
John Cloud, 2002 SIO Ritter Fellow and Cornell University
Michael Curry, UCLA
Caitlin Zaloom, Berkeley
Robert Kohler, University of Pennsylvania
Paul Rabinow, Berkeley
Steve Jackson, UC San Diego
Miriam Padolsky, UC San Diego
Cathryn Carson, UC Berkeley
Nancy Cartwright, UC San Diego/London School of Economics
Anat Leibler, UC San Diego
William Bechtel, UC San Diego
Norton Wise, UCLA
Derek Jensen, UC San Diego
Mauricio Suarez ,Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain


Sigrid Schmalzer, UC San Diego
Jim Fleming, Colby College
Adele Clark, UCSF
Fran Berman, UC San Diego San Diego Supercomputer Center
Lisa Cartwright, UC San Diego
Jed Buchwald, Cal Tech
Doris and Henry Dreyfuss Professor of History
Sal Restivo, Harvey Mudd College
Robert Northcott, London School of Economics
Mary Morgan, London School of Economics
Grischa Metlay, UC San Diego
Ted Porter, UCLA
Andrew Hamilton, UC San Diego
Robert Nye, Oregon State University
Nadine Kozak, UC San Diego
Michael Bernstein, UC San Diego
Neil Thomason, University of Melbourne
Senior Lecturer, Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Zara Mirmalek, UC San Diego Science Studies Program/History Department
Martin Rudwick, University of Cambridge, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, UC San Diego
Mordechai Feingold, Cal Tech
Ernan McMullin, Notre Dame
Jane Maienschein, Arizona State University
Bernard Lightman, York University
Carmel Finley, UC San Diego


Klaas van Berkel, University of Groningen
Michael Evans, UC San Diego
Matt Crawford, UC San Diego
Grace Davie, UC San Diego
Richard C.J. Somerville, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Ron Rainger, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Patrick Carroll, UC Davis
Joel Braslow, UC San Diego
Jesse Richmond, UC San Diego
David Hollinger, UC Berkeley
Jonathan Erlen, University of Pittsburgh
James Griesemer, UC Davis
Domenico Bertoloni Meli, Indiana University
James Evans, University of Puget Sound
Natalie Jeremijenko, UC San Diego
Minakshi Menon, UC San Diego
Paul Hoyningen-Huene, University of Hanover (Germany)
Robert Westman, UC San Diego
Jessica Riskin, Stanford
John Beatty, University of British Columbia
Emily Thompson, UC San Diego
Paul Edwards, Michigan
Samuel Randalls, University of Birmingham (UK)
Lucy Suchman, Lancaster University
Joan Richards, Brown University
Martin Bunzl, Rutgers University
Ken Alder, Northwestern University
Stefan Timmermans, Harvard
Erich Conrad, UC San Diego
Monika Gisler, UCLA


Thomas Hughes, University of Pennsylvania
Simon Cole, UCI
Wendy Parker, UC San Diego
Maureen McNeill, University of Lancaster
Alison Wylie, University of Washington
Steve Luis, UC San Diego
Sophia Efstathiou, UC San Diego
Francis Longworth, University of Pittsburgh
Jon Guice, Green Mountain Engineering
F. Sherwood Rowland, UCI
Steve Huntsman, Naval Postgraduate School
Lesley Cormack, University of Alberta
Florence Millerand, UC San Diego
Robert F. Benjamin, Los Alamos Laboratory
Eden Medina, Indiana University
Kasper Eskildsen, UC San Diego
Erik Conway, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab
Tom Waidzunas, UC San Diego
Ray Chou, UC San Diego
Roger Bohn, UC San Diego
Lyn Headley, UC San Diego
Joan Cadden, UC Davis
Sheila Jasanoff, Harvard
Heather Flowe, UC San Diego
Christopher Smeenk, UCLA
Chris Mooney, author of "The Republican War on Science"
Dan Metlay, US Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board
Ev Meade, UC San Diego
John Heilbron, UC Berkeley
Pamela Long, Independent historian and Getty Scholar 2006-07


Alexandra Minna Stern, University of Michigan
Joseph Gabriel, UC San Diego
Sarah S. Lochlann Jain, Stanford University
Laura Harkewicz, UC San Diego
Sean Cadigan, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Kwan Min Lee, University of Southern California
Steven Epstein, UC San Diego
Morana Alac, UC San Diego
Brian Lindseth, UC San Diego
Eric Martin, UC San Diego
Adrienne Mayor, Stanford University
Matt Shindell, UC San Diego
Alper Yalcinkaya, UC San Diego
Bruce T. Moran, University of Nevada at Reno
Roddey Reid, UC San Diego
Margaret Garber, California State University Fullerton
Katherine Ott, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Peter Galison, Harvard University
Andrea Westermann, Technikgeschichte der ETH Zurich
Elizabeth Dunn, University of Colorado
Emma Johnson, UC San Diego
Cynthia Schairer, UC San Diego
Simon Werrett, University of Washington
Daniel Garber, Princeton University
Lindley Darden, University of Maryland


James Tabery, University of Utah
Jennifer Terry, UC Irvine
Tal Golan, UC San Diego
Sonja D. Schmid, Monterey Institute of International Studies
Tiago Mata, Technical University of Lisbon and Duke University
Reviel Netz, Stanford University
Thomas S. Mullaney, Stanford University
Tal Golan, UC San Diego
Kaushik Sunder Rajan, UC Irvine
Daniel A. Alexandrov, European University at St. Petersburg
Nancy Cartwright, UC San Diego
Samuel Kline Cohn, Jr., University of Glasgow
Nick Huggett, University of Illinois at Chicago
Gregory T. Cushman, University of Kansas
Sharon Traweek, UCLA
Jennifer L. Mnookin, UCLA
Karen Barad, UC Santa Cruz
Ruth Schwartz Cowan, University of Pennsylvania
Charis Thompson, UC Berkeley
Akos Rona-Tas, UC San Diego
Chandra Mukerji, UC San Diego





Marisa Brandt, UC San Diego
Richard Boyd, Cornell; W.Christopher Boyd, UC Berkeley; and Barbara Koslowski, Cornell
Gina Neff, University of Washington
Kirsten Ostherr, Rice University
Chandra Mukerji, UC San Diego
Sarah de Rijcke, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
April Huff, UC San Diego
Matthew Bietz, University of Washington
Alexander Marr, USC
Werner Callebaut, University of Vienna
Ronald Numbers, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Bastiann van Fraassen, San Francisco State University
Harun Kucuk, UC San Diego
Tanja Paulitz, Universitat Graz
Joseph Dumit, UC Davis
Elizabeth Petrick, UC San Diego
Joel Dimsdale, UC San Diego
Christopher Hitchcock, California Institute of Technology
Craig Callender, UC San Diego
Florence Hsia, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Carl Cranor, UC Riverside
Inmaculada de Melo-Martin, Weill Cornell Medical College
Karin Knorr-Cetina, University of Chicago
Hasok Chang, University of Cambridge



Steven Epstein, UC San Diego Sociology
Mara Harrell, UC San Diego Philosophy
Mark Hineline, UC San Diego History
Pauline Sargent, NSF
Margaret Garber, UC San Diego History
Allison Winter, California Institute of Technology
Marta Hanson, UC San Diego History
Diane Vaughan, Boston College
Stephen Toulmin, University of Southern California
Jim Moore, UC San Diego Anthropology
Chandra Mukerji, UC San Diego Sociology/Communication
Barbara Herrnstein-Smith, Duke University
Martin Rudwick, UC San Diego History
Ben Sims, UC San Diego Science Studies
Peter Dear, Cornell University
Joseph Gusfield, UC San Diego Sociology
Elizabeth Bates, UC San Diego Cognitive Science
Judith Halberstam, UC San Diego Literature
Shirley Strum, UC San Diego Anthropology
Adrian Cussins, UC San Diego Philosophy


Linda Liu, UC Berkeley
Naomi Oreskes, UC San Diego History
Francesca Bray, UC Santa Barbara
Angela Lakwete, UC San Diego
Ira Livingston, State University of New York, Stoneybrook
Val Hartouni, UC San Diego
Myles Jackson, Willamette University
Adrian Johns, UC San Diego
Gabrielle Hecht, Stanford University
Nancy Cartwright, London School of Economics
Paul Teller, UC Davis
Pamela Smith, Pamona
Ted Porter, UCLA
Suzanne Kessler
Luce Giard, UC San Diego History
Margaret Meredith, UC San Diego
Susan Davis, UC San Diego Communication
Fred Spiess, UC San Diego
Vince Rafael, UC San Diego Communication
Eric Scerri, Purdue University
David Palumbo-Liu, Stanford University
Charlotte Furth, University of Southern California
Deb Harkness, UC Davis
Paolo Mancosu, UC Berkeley
Robert Adams, USD, Anthropology
Michael Shank, University of Wisconsin


Kathleen Walen, University of London, UC Davis
Geoffrey Bowker, UC San Diego Communication
Jeffrey Bub
Ronald Giere, University of Minnesota
Bogi Anderson, UC San Diego, Medicine
Philip Mirowski, University of Notre Dame
Pat Churchland, UC San Diego Philosophy
Andrew Feenberg, San Diego State University
William Freudenburg, University of Wisconsin
Stephan Fuchs, University of Virginia
Sigrid Schmalzer, UC San Diego
Lawrence Cohen, UC Berkeley
Leigh Star, UC San Diego Science Studies Program/History Department
Andrew Warwick, Imperial College, London
Nancy Nersessian, MIT
Joan Fujimura, Stanford