HPST Previous Graduate Students

photo of Lydia Barnett


Lydia Barnett

I joined the Stanford History Department as a graduate student in 2004, after graduating from Oberlin College in 2003 with majors in History and Philosophy. My guiding research interest for the last few years has been the relationship between science and religion in early modern Europe. I've worked on a number of 17th and 18th century figures who proposed various ways of harmonizing natural knowledge and religious faith, including the British chemist Robert Boyle, the Swiss geologist Jean-André Deluc, and the British natural philosopher Thomas Burnet, who originated the 18th century genre of physico-theological writing known as 'theories of the earth'. My dissertation, provisionally titled "The Living Rock: Natural and Sacred Histories of the Earth, 1680-1740," takes Burnet as the starting point for an exploration of the multiple forces - literary and philosophical, cultural and religious, economic and political - which reconfigured the earth and its history as a subject of natural knowledge in the early Enlightenment. Future projects I'd love to pursue after the dissertation include: natural history, moral economy, and regimes of land use; the concept of authorship in early modern science, especially as it was deployed in scientific controversies; economies of fossil collecting and the unseen, lower-class labor which often went into the making of large and famous collections; and a long history of ideas about the earth's future in religion, popular culture and natural science.

Alex Bay

photo of AlexBay


I majored in Japanese history with a History of Science minor, working with Peter Duus and Tim Lenoir. My dissertation was on beriberi research and the construction of scientific knowledge in prewar Japan. After graduating in 2006, I began teaching at Chapman University, a small school in Orange County. During the 2008-2009 academic year, I pursued a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science post-doctoral fellowship, living in a rural, costal town several hours south of Tokyo. The picture provided is a bit of the cultural activities I was involved in when not writing my book, The Beriberi Debate: Medicine and Power in Prewar Japan.

photo of LeslieBerlin's book


Leslie Berlin

Leslie Berlin is Project Historian for the Silicon Valley Archives at Stanford University. She also writes the "Prototype" column on innovation for the New York Times. Ms. Berlin is the author of The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley, a biography of Fairchild and Intel co-founder and integrated circuit co-inventor Robert Noyce. She holds a Ph.D. in History from Stanford.

Bradford Harris

photo of Brad Harris

I have always been fascinated with the history of science and technology. I believe that this particular historical field coheres many different academic disciplines and transcends many traditional historiographical boundaries (geographical, temporal, etc.), providing its students with a uniquely comprehensive view of human behavior through the ages. Since arriving at Stanford in the fall of 2008, I have focused my research on the historical relationship between materials engineering and design, business, and environmental and health concerns. My dissertation will explore the historical trajectory of plastics engineering, illuminating shifts in the major plastics feedstocks from bio-based materials through about 1940, to petroleum through the turn of the twenty-first century, with a current shift back to bio-based materials. Resource logistics, policy, and profit projections have all influenced these shifts, and my dissertation is likewise designed to appeal to historians and engineers, policymakers and businesspeople. Studying and working at Stanford has also afforded me the opportunity to enjoy the adventurous and cosmopolitan vibe of the Bay Area. Sailing, dancing, camping, and sports are some of my favorite activities in and around my home in San Francisco.

Brad has won the SHOT 3 minute dissertation video contest, earning him a free trip to the conference of his choice. Congratulations Brad!

Josh Howe

photo of Josh HOwe


I came to Stanford after a B.A. at Middlebury College, followed by a series of jobs that involved teaching, writing, taking photographs, coaching, and leading a variety of outlandish adventures in the outdoors all over the world. Here at Stanford, I have managed to translate my passion for living outside into an intellectual pursuit that straddles the fields of Environmental History and the History of Science. In my teaching, I cover a wide swath in both fields, but my research primarily deals with the political history of global warming. My dissertation, "Making Global Warming Green: Climate Change and American Environmentalism, 1957-1992," investigates how the issue of climate change became the centerpiece of the American environmental movement in the second half of the twentieth century. I focus on the complex institutional, political, and professional relationships between scientists studying climate and American environmentalists, from the early scientific concerns expressed during the International Geophysical Year of 1957 to the United Nations Earth Summit of 1992. In conjunction with my research, I also work closely with the Woods Institute for the Environment and the Interdisciplinary Program on Environment and Resources. Moving forward, I plan to take what has been a global-to-local, science-to-advocacy approach to global warming and turn it on its head. In my next project, I plan to explore the intersections between local, regional, national, and international environmental politics as they have played out in specific places over the last three decades. As an Idahoan, I am particularly interested in the local and state level political responses to the potential impacts of climate change on the resources of the American West. When I am not in the region's archives studying its history, you can find me playing in its rivers, waves, deserts, and mountains.


Christophe Lécuyer

photo of CLs book


Christophe Lécuyer, a graduate of the Ecole Normale Supérieure, earned his Ph.D. in history from Stanford University. He taught at Stanford and the University of Virginia and is currently a principal economic analyst at the University of California. Lécuyer published extensively on the history of electronics, instrumentation, and high tech manufacturing. He is the author of Making Silicon Valley: Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930-1970 (MIT Press, 2006) and (with David C. Brock) of Inventing the Digital World: A Documentary History of Fairchild Semiconductor from Startup to Microchip (MIT Press, forthcoming 2010).


John McCaskey

photo of John McCaskey

John spent twenty years in the computer business, including a successful stint at a software company he co-founded, before returning to academia in 2001. He received his PhD from the History Department in 2006. John now teaches part-time in the History and Philosophy of Science Program and in the Ethics in Society Program. His research and writing concern evolving conceptions of induction from the ancient world to the early twentieh century. He does a lot of work on Jacopo Zabarella, Francis Bacon and William Whewell. He and his wife live in Saratoga, California, part-time in New York City. For his latest teaching and research, see johnmccaskey.com


Brianna Rego

photo of Brianna Rego

I came to Stanford in the fall of 2006 after graduating from Oberlin College, where I studied History and Geology. I was excited to work with Robert Proctor on something to do with secret science, history of medicine, radiation, neuroscience, Cold War science, and science policy. I really didn't think I would find a topic that related to all my interests, but that was before I discovered the huge, fascinating, and important topic that is the tobacco industry. My dissertation, titled "Behind a Veil of Smoke: Big Tobacco and the Hidden History of R&D at Philip Morris, 1950-1985," was a history of the Department of Research and Development at the largest tobacco company. I am interested in the scientific research conducted by the industry itself on the health hazards and dangers of smoking. Throughout the mid-to-late-twentieth century the tobacco industry was publicly denying the harms of smoking. At the same time, industry scientists were working in various ways on projects related to the very harms the industry was denying. I am excited to continue this work and begin new projects on the history of the tobacco industry and the history of industry science as a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Eduction at the University of California, San Francisco. During my time at Stanford, I also earned a Master's degree in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, working with the paleobiology research group on the end-Permian mass extinction and biotic recovery during the Triassic. My Paleo research was completely unrelated to my research in the history of science, but mass extinctions are really cool and being a geologist lets you call hiking and camping "research." This fit in really well with my lifestyle since I'm from Idaho and love climbing mountains. Visit my website at briannarego.com

Peder Roberts

photo of Brad Harris

I came to Stanford from the University of New South Wales in Sydney Australia, back in 2004. I hope to soon become Robert Proctor's first completed PhD advisee! My dissertation focuses on the way science has became the dominant form of legitimate activity in the Antarctic. In a sense, it's a story about how states came to decide that Antarctic science was something worth supporting rather than about how scientists realized Antarctica was interesting -- though of course, you can never completely separate those two questions. With all the focus today about natural resource exploitation and governance in the polar regions, I feel strongly that historical insights can be useful. Climate change has been used as a justification for international research in the Antarctic since the 1940s -- back when it had positive connotations and was thought to be a natural cycle. And at a time when 'scientific whaling' is widely seen as an oxymoron, it's interesting to recall that for many years it was anything but. My research has taken me to Norway, Sweden, Britain, and Australia, but nothing compares to spring in northern California!


J.B. Shank

photo of J.B> Shank

J.B. reports: I am in the process of getting all of my dissertation into book form. One part appeared in September 2008, The Newton Wars and the Beginning of the French EnlightenmentU of Chicago Press, and a prequel of sorts called Before Voltaire: Newton and the Making of Mathematical Physics in France, 1680-1715 is undergoing final revisions and will hopefully be out also from U. Chicago Press, in 2010. Otherwise I spent a year in 2005-2006 at the Institute and Museum of the History of Science in Florence, Italy (not Kentucky...) and started to work more during that year on sixteenth and seventeenth-century science, including a focus on Galileo and the Galileians. That has continued. I am organizing my new work around the title "Science before 'the Arts and Sciences,'" a theme which involves exploring the early modern disciplinary arrangements that joined subjects like mathematics, painting, music, and literature in ways that defy our modern, "Two Cultures" disciplinary divisions."

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