My research investigates the history of medical technologies, particularly the consumer medical technologies that have become embedded in American life. Although these tools range from the simple (bandages, toothbrushes) to the complex (glucose monitors, blood pressure machines), they all share one key characteristic: they are meant to be used, in private, by people without professional medical training or oversight.
I study how these technologies act as boundary objects between professional medical spaces and the private sphere of the home; they both embody scientific conceptions of health and the body and, as they become naturalized in the home, integrate the intimate bodily knowledge of their users. I am also interested in the ways that focusing on the medical tools that patients use can help us understand the medical work that patients perform and, furthermore, to see how patients both create new scientific knowledge and new scientific selves.
My dissertation research traces the history of these ideas by following one of the earliest scientific medical tools that patients had access to, the medical thermometer. I examine the ways that women became enrolled in the practice of thermometry, and how they grew to understand their bodies as objects of scientific inquiry and themselves as practicing scientists.
My side projects explore the social history of the medicine cabinet in the American home, the history of weight loss and dieting techniques (particularly diet drinks), and the ways that medical and technological anxieties are expressed in American popular culture.
When I am not charting and analyzing my own temperature, I enjoy long games of Uno, lime-flavored food and beverages, and being the awkward person who refuses to stop talking about Lost and Battlestar Galactica.
- How to Tell If You're Dead: The 19th-century doctor who wanted to create a "death thermometer", Slate, April 22, 2014.
- Toward a Zombie Epistemology: What It Means to Live and Die in Cabin in the Woods, Ada: A Journal of Gender, Media and Technology no. 3, November 2013.
- Making Up Wizards: Harry Potter, Wizards, and How We Let Technology Create Who We Are, Popmatters, August 17, 2012.
- Eastern State Penitentiary - Philadelphia, PA, British Society for the History of Science Travel Guide, June 19, 2012.