Michael McGovern

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I study the history of the human sciences, race, law, and technology with a focus on the history of data: why and how we measure what we do. My dissertation tells the story of how civil rights lawyers embraced statistical proof of discrimination and the impact of their efforts on criminal justice data, employee evaluation, and legal doctrine in the modern United States. By providing a historical account of the opportunities and hazards of quantitative frameworks for racial justice, I seek to inform discussions about discrimination in our current era of big data and machine learning.

I am a certificate student in the Department of African American Studies, and former associate producer of the AAS Podcast. My work has been supported by the Princeton Mellon Initiative, Princeton's School of Public and International Affairs, the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation, and the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine. During my time at Princeton, I have served as a head fellow at the Princeton Writing Center, taught with the Prison Teaching Initiative, and held various roles in the Graduate History Association. This year, I am a co-chair of the History of Science Society's Graduate and Early Career Caucus.

Before coming to Princeton, I received a B.A. from the University of Chicago and an M.Phil. from the University of Cambridge in the history and philosophy of science. I spent time working as a software developer for a large Midwest industrial supplier, and have hosted podcasts for the New Books Network on Science, Technology, and Society. I live in Sunnyside, Queens (namesake of the failed Kal Penn sitcom) and spend my free time as a mercenary tenor in choirs around the city.

Year of Study
Seventh Year
Area of Interest
African American
History & Public Policy
History of Technology
Human Sciences
Intellectual History
Legal History
Medicine & Health
Home Department & Other Affiliations
20th Century
21st Century
North America