I study classification and quantification in the histories of the human sciences and technology in the twentieth century United States. My dissertation, tentatively titled, "Just in Numbers? Statistics, Civil Rights, and Criminality in Postwar America," is a history of statistics and probability throughout the American legal system during the rise of mass incarceration and the rightward shift in American politics. As statistics departments began to crop up in major universities, and microcomputers spread throughout academia, industry, and government, ready-to-use quantitative tools became ubiquitous with little general understanding of the mathematics under the hood. In courts, battles raged over how to define discrimination statistically, and enforce uniform standards on sentencing. When more conservative courts turned away from using statistical tests as evidence, metrics and automation were increasingly coming to define law enforcement and the infrastructure of the court system.
I completed general exams in May 2018 with a major field in Modern Science (Erika L. Milam) and minor fields in Modern Technology (Emily Thompson) and Modern U.S. History (Margot Canaday). Before coming to Princeton, I ensconced myself in Cambridge, where I developed an affinity for calculators, then spent two years working as a software developer for a large Midwest industrial supplier. I occasionally host podcasts for the New Books Network on Science, Technology, and Society. I nurse side interests in the histories of genetics, information technology, the sciences of mind and brain, and populations as objects of knowledge.
Prospective applicants, feel free to reach out to me with any questions about studying History of Science at Princeton or in general.