Wednesday, June 30, 2021 - 1:00pm

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Bugs, Bodies, Biomes: The Many Futures of Cystic Fibrosis

Come hear the dissertation defense of HSS doctoral candidate Becca Mueller. The Genome and the Biome: Cystic Fibrosis @ Six Feet Apart, is a history and ethnography of cystic fibrosis community that takes the relatively common genetic disease, cystic fibrosis (CF), as a case study of novel diagnostic technologies, risk, and sociality. In this talk, Mueller will present the dissertation, featuring material from the manuscript’s first chapter, “Bugs,” which traces a bacterium whose transmission across the CF population prompted the physical separation of people with CF. Called Burkholderia cepacia, the bug was “a microbial Jeckyl and Hyde.” It was a source of promise for agricultural and industrial microbiologists and a beacon of terror within the CF community given how it could recast a patient’s trajectory and spread across CF clinics and summer camps. With a sustained focus on CF’s rapidly evolving prognosis, Mueller traces how different stakeholders made sense of Burkholderia cepacia in a process that connected disparate actors and bridged siloed scientific disciplines.