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Fellowships and New Books for History of Science Faculty

ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship Award to McCray; New books from Soto Laveaga and Badash

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) announced in January 2010 that W. Patrick McCray, professor in the history of science and technology (faculty page), would share a Collaborative Research Fellowship with Prof. Mara Mills (UCSB, Dept. of English) and Prof. Cyrus Mody (Rice University, Dept of History). The three researchers will work together to study the activities of “high-tech intellectuals.” The ACLS funds awardees up to $140,000 and the UCSB-Rice collaboration was one of only 6 teams selected by the ACLS from a nationwide pool of 70 applicants.

Prof. Gabriela Soto-Laveaga (faculty page) has just published Jungle Laboratories: Mexican Peasants, National Projects, and the Making of Global Steroids (Duke University Press, 2009). (Publisher’s website).

In the 1940s chemists discovered that barbasco, a wild yam indigenous to Mexico, could be used to mass-produce synthetic steroid hormones. Barbasco spurred the development of new drugs, including cortisone and the first viable oral contraceptives, and positioned Mexico as a major player in the pharmaceutical industry. Yet few people today are aware of Mexico’s role in achieving these advances in modern medicine. In Jungle Laboratories, Gabriela Soto Laveaga, reconstructs the story of how rural yam pickers, international pharmaceutical companies, and the Mexican state collaborated and collided over the barbasco. By so doing, she sheds important light on a crucial period in Mexican history and challenges us to reconsider who can produce science.
Professor emeritus Larry Badash (faculty page) has just published A Nuclear Winter’s Tale (MIT Press, 2009). (Publisher’s website with TOC and sample chapter; preview at amazon.com). The nuclear winter phenomenon burst upon the public’s consciousness in 1983. Added to the horror of a nuclear war’s immediate effects was the fear that the smoke from fires ignited by the explosions would block the sun, creating an extended “winter” that might kill more people worldwide than the initial nuclear strikes. In A Nuclear Winter’s Tale, Badash maps the rise and fall of the science of nuclear winter, examining research activity, the popularization of the concept, and the Reagan-era politics that combined to influence policy and public opinion.

hm 8/27/09, 12/29/09, 1/4/10, 2/1; pm 2/1