Before joining the STS Program at York University, I studied sociology at the University of Helsinki and science & technology studies at Cornell University. My Master’s dissertation was concerned with the economic factors underpinning research competition in the molecular biology laboratories in the USA and Russia. My doctoral research departs from my interests in science studies to explore responsible innovation and civic governance. My current research interests include civic data governance, data privacy regulations, and participatory innovation. My PhD dissertation focuses on the civic initiatives around data governance in smart cities, using Alphabet/Sidewalk Labs’ smart city in Toronto, Canada as a case study.
William Illsey (Bill) Atkinson
Building on my background as a science writer and sci-fi novelist, I'm investigating the socio-cultural forces that led to the emergence of British science fiction in the late nineteenth century, particularly the 'sensation novel'. My supervisor is Bernie Lightman, York's latest Distinguished Research Professor.
Drew Danielle Belsky
Building on my training in fine arts (ESAD-Strasbourg) and interdisciplinary research in Fine Arts, Critical Disability Studies, and STS (York), my research interests revolve around bodies and visual production. Previous and ongoing projects address mobilizations of disabled bodies in contemporary art and aspects of consent in research and in art production. My doctoral work is primarily concerned with the practices, pedagogy, and professionalization of medical illustrators in Canada from the 20th century to the present. I am interested in the relevance of this under-documented predominantly female profession to the production and dissemination of canonical bodies in medicine and broader culture.
Funding: SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship (2016-2019); AMS History of Medicine Doctoral Completion Grant (2019)
My interests in STS cluster around the histories and political economies of health, environment, and development, especially within postcolonial states and societies. Building on my previous work experience with international public health organisations, my dissertation traces the political and technical determinants of the 'discovery' of the diagnosis of MDR-TB (Multi Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis) in post-liberalisation India of the 1990s and 2000s. This project is situated within the larger theoretical frameworks of sociology of diagnosis and global health histories, as I trace the conduits by which disease concepts historically 'emerge' to inform global health agendas.
Funding: Elia Scholarship (2015-2018); Susan Mann Dissertation Scholarship (2019)
Though my interests are eclectic, I am generally critical of method. Because of this, I tend take greatest interest in works within the philosophy of science. My current research is directed to topics relevant within and around the rationality of science, under determination, realism, prediction, scientific change.
Funding: Carswell Scholarship (2017)
I have spent the better part of my academic career studying branches of philosophy concerned with the biomedical sciences. My MA in philosophy culminated with a study of differentiating phenomenological approaches to the problem of other minds (i.e. how we come to know that there is an other mind in the first place, and whether or not, and to what extent, it differs from that of the perceiver). I hope to further my interest in these questions and the often reductive delineations implicit within them by studying the experience of amorphous health conditions - specifically, psychosomatic illnesses such as fibromyalgia. I use phenomenologists and enactivists as interlocutors in my work, paying special attention to the idea of autopoiesis and the concepts 'habit body' and 'sensorimotor contingencies'. One of the central questions guiding my research is: what epistemological underpinnings are at play in our present understanding of embodiment?
My research interests are broadly surrounding the anthropology and philosophy of biology and the ecological sciences, cartography, postcolonial and feminist STS, and environmental and medical humanities. My dissertation project seeks to situate the phenomenon of wildfires and built environment fires in the context of capitalism and colonialism. I also study how ecologists make sense of their field, their relationship with their non-human subjects, and what that can tell us about ecologists' epistemological orientation to the biophysical environment, their understanding of ideas about human bodies, the environment, wellness and disease, and ecological relationships at large.
Funding: Vernon Oliver Stong Scholarship in Science (2017), Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2019)
My research focuses on the history of modern technology and how it reflects and influences how we understand, see and seek the self. I consider both primary phenomena of how specific technologies have held particular sway over how we fashion the self, including photography, biometrics and self-tracking applications as well as secondary epiphenomena, for instance, the rhetorical similarities between how we talk about machines and ourselves with notions of potential, failure and objectivity.
My PhD research interests lie in a material which has always been on the periphery of my studies in environment, health and culture, but never in the foreground: plastic. Plastic is a slippery subject, as it is a diverse and evolving species of material. From the cellophane wrapper found on a pack of gum to the plastic and carbon fibre composites found in advanced prostheses, plastic has a diversity of uses and associations that are unparalleled in human history. Plastic is also, by way of BPA water bottles and can linings, present in most human and non–human bodies, causing largely unknown effects. Plastic is therefore a good material to think with when it comes to the fuzzy boundaries between the human/object; trash/not–trash world. Through theoretical engagements with actor–network theory, post-humanism and the culture of everyday life, I want to document plastic’s fall from grace: from the revolutionary and utopian material of the early 20th century to the reviled and despised material of today.
Funding: SSHRC Graduate Fellowship (2014-2017)
My research is on online fanfiction communities, more specifically on disabled fans and fanfiction producers who contribute to disability representation and accessibility. My interests in fanfiction and fans have evolved from ongoing work in cultural analysis of disability narrative in popular culture, especially TV shows, to transform into a concern for how they were being taken up by audiences through new media and participatory cultural practices, as well as from my long-time love of fanfiction, as a disabled fan myself. I started my research project during my Masters, and in my doctoral studies, I am further developing it through an examination of how technologies and the development of online community standards around accessibility contribute to the development of disability narratives and identities in fanfiction communities. I use theoretical frameworks and insights from critical disability studies, fan studies and STS to examine the significance of disabled fans and fanfiction producers to developing the presence of disability as subversive political embodiment in digital environments.
Funding: Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2016, 2017), SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship (2018)
My research concerns technoscientific cultures of synthetic sound. Examining the histories, development, and dissemination of electronic music technologies and their attendant practices, I explore the capacities of synthetic sound to influence human and non-human capacities to relate, act, respond, feel, and experience. Such modulations are not limited to the sensorial or aesthetic realm, but propagate through the social, the ecological, and the ethical. My dissertation is methodologically multimodal, availing of ethnographic, philosophical, and practice-based methods.
Laura Lilla Farkas
My research interests include astrobiology science within our solar system, planetary protection, and the ethics concerning extraterrestrial environments and potential extraterrestrial life. For my doctoral research, I am looking at the social influences on planetary protection policies for the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn. These moons that are thought to harbour subsurface oceans are of major relevance to the question of habitability within our solar system, therefore, they are important targets of future exploratory missions. I am conducting my investigations within the frameworks of environmental policy pertaining to space, definitions and recognition of extraterrestrial life, implications of commercially driven or state-sponsored human expansion into the solar system, and space governance. I am hoping that insights gained through this study will ultimately contribute to international multi-stakeholder discussions about planetary protection and space policy.
Funding: Carswell Scholarship (2019)
My doctoral research contextualizes the development of the ‘Body Farm’ at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and seeks to understand how the public image and media work of William M. Bass, the facility’s founder, has contributed to popular understandings of modern forensic anthropology. Beyond my project I work as the Manuscripts Coordinator for the John Tyndall Correspondence Project.
Funding: Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2016, 2017, 2018)
My areas of interest are the political economy of technoscience, critical innovation studies, communication studies, intersectional and decolonial/postcolonial science and technology studies, and human-computer interactions. My current research is at the intersection of technology and society focusing on the social, economic, and political implications of digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and the digital platform economy.
Funding: Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2018), Carswell Scholarship (2018); SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarships (2019-2022)
My research in the history of classification and the human sciences aims to detail the interactions between the built-environment, 'human kinds' and cognitive developments in the sciences. In particular, I am interested in the influence of 'place-based services' on modalities of care in Canada.
Funding: Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2016); SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship (2017-2020)
My research interests include anthropology, cultural and media studies, and critical pedagogy. Currently, I am focused on the engineering profession and engineers’ work to regulate themselves, other professionals, engineering businesses, engineering professional bodies, and engineering education institutions in Canada. By focusing on professional regulation, my research captures the wide and varied scope of engineering practice under the singular term “engineering” in a way that clarifies what it is that engineers actually do. My research connects this idea to public perception and understanding of engineering (through film and media studies) and the contemporary reevaluation of Canadian engineering education. Building on my background in civil engineering, I am working with York University’s new Lassonde School of Engineering to complete my research.
I received an MA in Communication and Culture from a joint program between York and Ryerson University and an Honors BA in Social Anthropology from York University. My current interests focus on the sociology of technological expectations and ideologies surrounding innovative technology. This builds on my MA work focusing on the controversies surrounding the development of strong AI, specifically by analysing how socio-political and economic issues are erased and yet transpire in contemporary techno-utopian discourses.
Funding: Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2019)
The primary focus of my research is at the intersection of Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) science and technology, representations, and engagement. These include the acts and artifacts of technical drawing, design, and collaboration/argumentation. My work is also unique in that it addresses macro-scales of citizenship and public understandings, and brings pragmatism to AEC-STS research. Sports, and games are another research area of mine that provide some input into examining citizenship and engagement. For example, sport serves an important infrastructural role and acts as a political-economic barometer of sorts. Game-based or digital learning competencies are becoming more important in many structures of engagement and decision making.
My research interests include the history of computer mediated communication technologies and the production of gendered textual bodies; social networking technologies and the ways in which socially networked bodies transgress the material and the virtual divide; and the material effects of the textualization of life.
Funding: Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2010); SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship (2011-2014)
My doctoral research will examine how the earnest study of kitsch within the early and high Atomic Age (1945 - 1963) provides a means through which to see how individuals and society came to understand their mediated experiences with ‘the atom’, the implications of this new technology, and the failure of science communication. My project (1) examines how the atom, mass culture, and kitsch became so deeply intertwined during an era of totalizing top-down narratives; (2) presents how kitsch provided opportunities for popular participation in and consumption of atomic science; and (3) argues that kitsch should be approached as a generative tool, necessary for a robust understanding of popular culture, one of ongoing cultural significance in need of more charitable academic focus.
Funding: Vernon Oliver Stong Scholarship in Science (2017); Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2017, 2018)
Katelyn Wan Fei Ma
My PhD research explores the preventive measures and early detection of cyber financial crimes. The key topics of my research include understanding: cyber-criminology with classical sociological theories; high-risk financial depletion channels such as blockchain and cryptocurrency; machine learning in recognizing fraud trends and attack patterns; fraud losses through artificial intelligence capacities; digital evidence for the policing of cyberspace; recommending effective policies and strategies using applicable cyber-victimology; and mitigating Internet-based risks via cyber-insurance.
I am interested in smart cities, air and atmospheres, as well as architecture. In my work, I engage with the notion of atmospheres, as both meteorological and affective, alongside architecture, in order to understand how the design of physical space matters in shaping cultural politics around environmental activism and sustainability. My goal is to trace a line between materiality, materialism and activism, in light of the engineering, conditioning and containment of different airs. I hold an MA from York’s STS program, which I completed under the supervision of Prof. Hélène Mialet, with a thesis on “How Data Matters and Comes to Have Matter”. Prior to this, I was a researcher in a technology lab which facilitated access to information for those affected by government internet censorship. I completed my undergraduate degree in Life Sciences (HBSc) at the University of Toronto, with Majors in psychology and global health, and a minor in cognitive sciences.
After leaving the military I decided to go back to school, but little did I know that I would be caught up in the long journey towards a doctorate. I completed my undergraduate in history, my first MA in sociology, my second MA in HPST, and am now doing a PhD in STS. It seems like an appropriate final destination! My interests are primarily concerned with religious and theological themes in presentations of science in popular culture. I am interested in using macro social theory, history, philosophy, media studies, and religious studies discourses to better understand this phenomenon. I am the administrator for the International Society for Science and Religion.
I am a Board Director of Science for Peace (Canada), and the Chair of a pan-university research-working group on Ocean Frontiers under Science for Peace. I am also serving currently as an honorary council member of the International Peace Bureau (Geneva); and was previously the honorary Chair of ASEAN Secretariat Women’s Wing (ASEAN) 2009-2011. I have been a Course Director at York for the following undergraduate courses: ‘Science and Technology Issues in Global Development’ (Dept. of Science & Technology Studies), ‘Natural Resource Management’ (Environmental Studies), and ‘History of the Environment’ (Natural Science). I have also been included as part of a working group member of an international research caucus on Science, Technology and Art in International Relations (STAIR), chartered in the U.S. under the International Studies Association, and also a member of the Extractive Industries Research Network. My educational background is in Science & Technology Studies, International Law and International Development. My former degrees are from the University of Oxford and Cornell. I received the Vivienne-Poy Award for doctoral research on Asia in 2016 and a Rhodes scholarship in 1992. My previous work experience spans public communications, community outreach, and corporate social responsibility consulting. After getting back to academia, my research focus is on the S & T of transboundary infrastructure development, particularly those concerning maritime regions, peace regimes, regional and international security. My publications include a book of poems, research based articles on the socio-politics of Southeast Asia, and on the S & T of artificial island constructions.
Funding: Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2014); Susan Mann Dissertation Scholarship (2017)
My basic fields of interest are the history of medicine, environmental psychology, and landscape architecture. In particular I study the role of nature and landscapes in western medicine, from the nineteenth century to the present, focusing on patterns of rejection and resurgence in this 150 year time frame in the context of professionalization and boundary-work disputes. My dissertation is currently titled "Gardens as Medical Technology: The use of gardens and landscapes as a technique of healing in Western medicine, 19th – 21st centuries".
My research interests include biopolitics; nuclear technologies; feminist theory; classification practices; materiality and identity formation. Working under the supervision of Professor Aryn Martin, my research explores these interests by examining the spatial arrangements and narratives enacted by Canadian nuclear medical infrastructures. As an anthropologist I employ an ethnographic mode of analysis that is attentive to the complex ways in which various groups seize upon scientific results and nuclear bio technologies to advance competing and overlapping goals within shifting political landscapes.
Funding: SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship (2010-2013)
Callum C. J. Sutherland
My dissertation, “Sockeye at the boundary: Aboriginal knowledge, the Great Divide, and the Calgary School”, explores the precipitous, decades-long decline of Fraser River sockeye salmon in general, and the proceedings of the ensuing judicial inquiry in particular (i.e., the Cohen Commission). These proceedings, I argue, both reflected and reified the primacy of abstract conceptions of sockeye, while simultaneously acknowledging and discrediting local conceptions of the same. I demonstrate that, absent these local perspectives, our present understanding of the sockeye salmon crisis is incomplete at best. It is partially on this basis that I contend, more broadly, that democratization should be treated as an essential component of, and not an impediment to, the development of equitable, judicious, and effective public science policy.
Funding: Enbridge Graduate Student Award (2013); Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2015)
I am interested in evaluating the limits of boundary work and the ways environmental policies are structured around/within such boundaries. My research focuses on understanding how boundaries are constructed, who they are constructed for and why an evaluation of boundary work is central to environmental policy in Canada. With policies that are structured around boundaries — which actively restructure themselves according to temporal, spatial and perspective changes — I seek to evaluate limitations in current understandings of environmental boundaries, considering possible futures once structured on the ambiguous aspects of boundaries.
Funding: Vernon Oliver Stong Graduate Scholarship (2018)