My research is broadly concerned with what I call the history of “biological futures”—the ideas, materials, and practices that have shaped contemporary systems of knowledge about life and its potential. I am especially interested the values that animated forward-looking projects in biotechnology and ecology in the 20th century. My research cuts across the History of Science, Medicine and Technology, Science and Technology Studies (STS), and anthropology of science, medicine, and technology.
My recent research on infrastructures for freezing and extending life has opened new questions about death and decay as well as big data and the politics of its reuse. I have also recently begun a new book project that explores the entangled histories of post-World War II science fiction and the history of life science and medicine. It traces the production of ideas about risk and the nature of expertise within and beyond scientific institutions. I have devoted particular attention to the career of Michael Crichton, a Harvard MD and best-selling author of a staggering range of pulp fiction focused on the promise and perils of emerging science and technology.