What Have Our Graduate Students Been Up To? A 2020-2021 Timeline

From presentations in Peru to publications in Germany to virtual events broadcast all over the world, the graduate students in the program for History and Sociology of Technology and Science (HSTS) in the School of History and Sociology (HSOC) have been busier than ever this year. 

However, this timeline of their achievements is more than just a showcase of their work. It’s also a glimpse into the many varied topics students can explore in the School. In pursuit of their master’s and doctorate degrees, HSTS graduate students are also advancing the conversation on subjects as diverse as messenger pigeons, eco-feminism, Covid-19 vaccines, and the history of personal computers. But their research is still united by a common theme—the School’s mission to “explore the past, engage the present, and define the future.”

Check out what our graduate students achieved in the 2020-2021 academic year, and get a sneak peek into what’s coming next!


June 2020

Graduate student Kera AllenIn June 2020, Ph.D. student Kera Allen published From Programming to Products: Softalk Magazine and the Rise of the Personal Computer User in the journal Information & Culture. Allen and her co-authors analyzed over one thousand reader letters to Softalk Magazine from 1980 to 1984. The shift in conversation topics from programming to software applications, products, and services showed a new class of computer users emerging from the original hobbyists.

In the same month, Ph.D. student Amber Brooks published Dr. Battey’s Ovariotomy, 1872 - 1878 in Peitho: Journal of the Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition. It explores some of the many diseases and illnesses attributed to women’s ovaries throughout history and the real-world impact that has on medical diagnoses today.


July 2020

In July, Ph.D. student Alejandra Ruiz León published a Spanish-language article titled Una Historia de dos Historias. La Ciencia Para Combatir al Coronavirus y la Desinformación, which translates to A Tale of Two Stories. The Science to Combat the Coronavirus and Misinformation. It appeared in the book A Ciencia Cierta. Miradas Científicas Para Comprender la Pandemia published by Penguin Random House.


Graduate student Elise Li ZhengAugust 2020

In August 2020, Ph.D. student Garrett Bunyak presented Inferiority By Association: Migration Narratives, Animality, and Chicana/Ecofeminist Possibilities at the American Sociological Association (ASA) Annual Conference in San Francisco, California.

Elise Li Zheng, a graduating master's student who will continue in the HSTS Ph.D. program, presented Interpreting Fitness: Self-tracking with Fitness Apps Through a Postphenomenology Lens virtually at the 4S (Society for Social Studies of Science) Annual Meeting hosted in Prague. The article dissects a small part of the complicated relationship between technology and health.


September 2020

In September, Ph.D. student Jack Linzhou Xing with co-author Naubahar Sharif at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, published From Creative Destruction to Creative Appropriation: A Comprehensive Framework in the journal Research Policy. The paper is a case study of a Chinese e-hailing company that used "creative appropriation" to dominate the taxi industry and "creative destruction" to destroy it and take over the market with private cars.


October 2020

Graduate student Alejandra Ruiz LeonIn October, Alejandra Ruiz León presented Piura con Ciencia: How the History of Science Changed the Vision on How to Communicate Science in the North of Peru at the Pedagogy, Popularization, and the Public Understanding of Science conference hosted by the Science History Institute. In her abstract for the project, León wrote, “Our study showed the effectiveness of measuring science popularization projects from a history of science’s perspective.” Read the full abstract here. In the same month, León also spoke at Women Leadership Day with Facebook Latin-American.

Additionally, Garrett Bunyak presented From Donald Trump to the Most Diverse Square Mile in America at the virtual Mid-South Sociological Association (MSSA) Annual Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

Ph.D. student Mike Bivona presented his paper Blowback: Kareem Khan and the Emerging Shape of Justice, Under Drones at the "Controversial Figures" session of the 2020 Society for the History of Technology Annual Meeting. Kareem Khan, a 20-year-old soldier in the U.S. Army, was killed by a bomb during Operation Iraqui Freedom in 2007. Bivona was also a 2020-2021 Sam Nunn Security Program Fellow.

Finally, Elise Li Zheng’s book review, Redefining the Datafication of Selves: Review of Data Selves: More-than-Human Perspectives, by Deborah Lupton, appeared in Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology.


November 2020

In November, Alejandra Ruiz León was a finalist at the Falling Walls conference in Berlin, which showcases research work from international scientists in a wide variety of fields. Leon was chosen as a finalist in the "Science Engagement" category for her work as the director of Mitocondria CC, her science communication company in Peru. Watch her video from the event here. León also spoke about the importance of the popularization of science to form a "critical citizenship" in the #ProgramaDeCiencias series with the Peruvian National Library. Watch the full conversation (Spanish).


Graduate student Marjorie HallJanuary 2021

In January, master's student Gloria Calhoun published Why Wire Mattered: Building U.S. Networked Infrastructures, 1845–1910. in Technology and Culture. It documents the challenges of building the vast wire networks the telegraphs needed and their importance as the foundation for the phone and internet networks that came after them.

Kera Allen presented "A Castle on a Hill": The First U.S. Microcomputer Public Access Center at the Career, Research, Innovation, and Development Conference at Georgia Tech. In September 2021, she will also present it at The Circulation of Computer Knowledge Beyond Schooling, 1980 – 2000 Online Workshop.

HSOC graduate students Kera Allen, Gloria Calhoun, Marjorie Hall, and Sharon Rachel presented papers at the 2021 Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts Graduate Conference and Mike Bivona helped moderate the event. Marjorie Hall presented The Stain-Resistant Black Box: The Visibility of PFAS Compounds and Impacts on Regulatory Efforts, and Sharon Rachel won honorable mention for her presentation on Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis of the Everyday Sexism Project. Read Rachel's abstract on the awards page.


February 2021

In February, Elise Li Zheng published Interpreting Fitness: Self-tracking With Fitness Apps Through a Postphenomenology Lens in the journal AI and Society. "Emerging technologies have changed the way people exercise," Zheng wrote in the introduction. "But do these new trends change the way people see health and fitness?" Her paper examines this question.


March 2021

Graduate student Declan AbernethyIn March, Ph.D. student Mario Bianchini presented his paper The Perfect(able) German Body: Sport as Technological Utopianism in East Germany at the History of Technology Working Group, the monthly meeting at the Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine.

Gloria Calhoun presented Entrepreneurs and Technological Change: Inventing Underground Wired Infrastructure 1870-1910 at the virtual Business History Conference annual meeting. She was a finalist for the 2021 Kerr Award for best first paper delivered by a new scholar.

The School of History and Sociology gave Ph.D. student Declan Abernethy the 2021 HSOC Homer Rice Award for Community Service, which recognizes an HSOC graduate student whose volunteer activities foster a sense of community in the School and the broader community.

HSOC also named Elise Zheng the 2020 Graduate Student Teaching Assistant of the Year for Online Teaching, and Garrett Bunyak the 2020 Graduate Student Instructor of the Year. Zheng was a teaching assistant for both history and sociology classes, and Bunyak taught HTS 3008: Class, Power, and Inequality

In addition, Alice Clifton-Morekis received the 2021 Graduate Student Legacy Award, one of three Ivan Allen Jr. Legacy awards given by the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts every year. The award honors "faculty and students whose lives and work embody the spirit of Georgia Tech alumnus Ivan Allen Jr.," the former mayor of Atlanta and champion of social courage and justice.


Graduate student Mario BianchiniApril 2021

In April, Alejandra Ruiz León lent her expertise at a communication meeting with a board of ministers in Peru about new ways to communicate the vaccination campaign. The conversation is part of the Diálogos Bicentenario (Bicentennial dialogues) series celebrating 200 years of independence in Peru.

Ph.D. student Mario Bianchini published a German-language article about computer toys in the German Democratic Republic (Through Play, Knowledge: Computer Toys as ‘Real-Existing’ Utopia in the German Democratic Republic). It appeared in Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismus Forschung (Yearbook for Historical Communism Research). Bianchini is also the principal researcher for the project Between Bukharin and Balcerowicz: a Comparative History of Economic Thought Under Communism. Learn more about the project here.


May 2021

Graduate student Sooa LeeIn May, Declan Abernethy presented his paper Imagining a United Atlanta: Atlanta United FC, Imagine Community, and Inequality in Modern Atlanta at Atlanta Studies in May 2021. Abernethy's paper uses "a mixed-methods approach to study the rise and impact of Atlanta's new Major League Soccer franchise."

In addition, Ph.D. student Sooa Lee defended her dissertation The Emergence and Development of Cross-National Knowledge Sharing and Production: Case Studies of International Collaborative Projects in South Korea. She graduated in the Class of 2021—congratulations, Sooa!

Finally, Marjorie Hall and co-author William Hall published Beyond Sustainability - How the New Climate Initiative Affects Environmental Compliance and Planning in APWA Reporter Magazine, the monthly publication from the American Public Works Association.


Graduate student Alice Clifton-MorekisWhat's next?

Front-Line Fowl: Messenger Pigeons as Communications Technology in the U.S. Army, by Alice Clifton-Morekis, will appear in the Spring 2021 issue of History and Technology.

In July 2021, Mario Bianchini will present "Through Play: Knowledge": Computer Toys and the Scientific Technological Revolution in the GDR" at the Annual Meeting of the International Committee for the History of Technology in Prague, Czechia.

In November 2021, Ph.D. student Clare Barbour will present Mapping Snowden's Files: GIS Evidence of Technological Colonialism and the 'Persistence' Feature of Infrastructure at the SHOT Annual Meeting. Her presentation will be part of the panel on Cable Empires: Superimposing U.S. Intelligence Cable Infrastructure on the British Submarine Telegraph Cable.

Garrett Bunyak's article Inferiority by Association: Animals, Migrants, and Chicana/(Eco)feminist Possibilities will appear in the book Like an Animal: Critical Animal Studies Approaches to Borders, Displacement, and Othering. The volume will challenge fundamental concepts of race, displacement, and refugees and show "how we can bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice at the border."

Graduate student Jack Linzhou Xing

Christopher Long will publish Dragonflies in the African Bush: Security Ramifications of Low-Cost Light Attack/Air Reconnaissance Aircraft Proliferation and the Chinese Aviation Industry in the book Proliferation of Weapons and Dual-Use Technologies - Diplomatic, Information, Military, and Economic Approaches. The book explores "the rapid pace of technological evolution in diplomatic, information, military, and economic sectors, which has contributed to a dynamic international policy environment."

Jack Linzhou Xing was one of four co-authors on the forthcoming paper Capitalism, Overwork, and Polanyi's Dialectics of Freedom: Emerging Visions of Work-Life Balance in Contemporary Urban China. It will appear in the book Work, Society, and the Ethical Self: Chimeras of Freedom in the Neoliberal Era, which connects "investigations of work to questions of personal and professional identity."

Marjorie Hall won a Brooks Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems (BBISS) Graduate Student Assistantship in the BBISS GRA Scholar Program. The highly competitive fully-funded two-year program will begin in Fall 2021. It will bring together seven Ph.D. students from different schools to work, study, and train as an interdisciplinary team to become the next generation of leaders in sustainability. 


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