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Prof. Dr.

Michael D. Gordin

Year of election: 2019
Section: History of Science and Medicine
City: Princeton
Country: USA
CV Michael D. Gordin - English (PDF)

Research

Research priorities: History of Modern Science, Russian History, Scientific Communication, Nuclear History

Michael D. Gordin is an American science historian and slavicist. He studies the history of modern science, with an emphasis on the institutions and infrastructure that lie beneath the production of knowledge. Most of his work falls in three categories, which together emphasize the importance of studying phenomena on the edges of major developments in order to illuminate what is typically taken as the mainstream.

First, he has published three books and many articles that explore the unique development of modern science within Slavic-dominated spaces, ranging from Prague to Vladivostok, but concentrating on European Russia. In conventional accounts of the history of science, the Russian case is either ignored (with partial exceptions like D. I. Mendeleev and his periodic system of chemical elements) or treated as pathological (as in the case of T. D. Lysenko’s campaign against Mendelian genetics). When analyzed transnationally, these cases help illuminate general characteristics that are shared with “Western” science.

Second, he continues to research scientific communication, particularly the effects of language choice on the development of science. As he has documented in Scientific Babel (2015), the striking dominance of global English in communication in the natural sciences is a recent phenomenon, and represents a transformation in the underlying organization of global knowledge-production. He also maintains an interest in the history of constructed languages (Plansprachen).

Finally, he works on the boundary debates between what counts as science and what as pseudoscience, as rational and irrational, and how these arguments trace the boundaries of sociological communities within the sciences.

Career

  • since 2013 Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Princeton University, New Jersey, USA
  • 2009-2013 Professor of the history of science at Princeton University, New Jersey, USA
  • 2007-2009 Associate professor of the history of science at Princeton University, New Jersey, USA
  • 2003-2007 Assistant professor of the history of science at Princeton University, New Jersey, USA
  • 2001-2005 Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  • 1992-2001 Study of history and doctorate, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Functions

  • since 2017 Director of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts at Princeton University, New Jersey, USA
  • 2012-2013 Founding Director of the Fung Global Fellows Program at Princeton University, New Jersey, USA
  • 2008-2013 Member of the Board of Directors, Philadelphia Area Center for the History of Science (PACHS)

Projects

  • 2014-2019 Chair of the Editorial Board of the journal Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences

Honours and Memberships

  • 2020 The Derek Price/Rod Webster Prize of the History of Science Society
  • since 2019 Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
  • 2019-2020 Research Fellow of the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington D.C., USA
  • 2011 Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, New York, USA
  • 2011 Graduate Mentoring Award, Princeton University, New Jersey, USA
  • 2007 Roy G. Neville Prize, Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  • 2002 Basic Prize in the History of Science

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