Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

Faculty Experts


Areas of expertise
history of science, British and imperial history

At Southwestern, I have discovered wonderful ways to expand my very specialized knowledge in the history of science into a far broader set of teaching and research interests. I am especially interested in the historical relationship between the sciences and society, the sciences in non-western contexts, and - in a completely different vein - knitting and the fiber arts.

My courses focus on teaching students to see themselves as active, critical, well-informed participants in historical debate.


PhD,Indiana University 1999
MA, PhD,Indiana University 1999
BSFS,Georgetown University 1992


January 01, 1999 - present


I am researching African and European knowledge about and ways of understanding nature in colonial South Africa (18th & 19th centuries). I am interested in trying to recover what Africans (and uneducated European colonists) knew about nature, and to try to understand when that knowledge was and was not accepted by Western science.

I have also recently begun to explore a completely different set of interests by working in the fiber arts and knitwear design.



  • What Kids Want: Kung Fu Knits, under contract with Cooperative Press
  • Nervous Conditions: Science and the Body Politic in the Industrial Age, State University of New York Press, 2006.


  • "Indigenous Knowledge and Contact Zones: The Case of the Cold Bokkeveld Meteorite, Cape Colony, 1838," Itinerario, special issue edited by Lissa Roberts, vol. 33 (2009): 31-44.
  • "What the Dogs Knew: Intelligence and Morality in the Cape Colony," in Canis Africanis: A Dog History of Southern Africa, ed. Lance Van Sittert and Sandra Swart (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2007), 77-90.
  • "Using Structured Debate to Achieve Autonomous Student Discussion," The History Teacher 37 (2004): 335-349.
  • "Worlds Displaced: Projecting the Celestial Environment from the Cape Colony," Kronos: Journal of Cape History 29 (2003): 64-85.
  • "Plant Knowledge at the Cape: A Study in African and European Collaboration," International Journal of African Historical Studies 36 (2003): 367-392.
  • "Local Colour: John Dalton and the Politics of Colour Blindness," History of Science 38 (2000): 401-424.
  • "Swords into Ploughshares: John Herschel's Progressive View of Astronomical and Imperial Governance," British Journal for the History of Science 31 (1998): 419-436.

Honors & Awards


  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship to support six months of archival research and writing in South Africa and Great Britain (fellowship used Jan.-June 2003)
  • Bernadotte E. Schmitt Grant from the American Historical Association to support archival research in South Africa
  • Sam Taylor Award ($2,400) from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, United Methodist Church, to support archival research in South Africa
  • Community Project Grant ($3,500) from the Texas Council for the Humanities, to mount an exhibit on scientific instruments and pedagogy, titled "Physics on the Frontier: An Exhibit on Science at Southwestern University, 1880-1950"
  • Finalist for Basic Books Prize in the history of science
  • National Science Foundation graduate student fellowship (used 1995-1998)

Specific subjects or issues you can knowledgeably discuss:
science in world history (esp. 18th/19th centuries) British and British imperial history in the 18th & 19th centuries gender/feminism and science masculinity

I am willing to talk to the media: yes

I am willing to talk to community groups about my area of expertise: no

Can you do interviews in Spanish? no

Other languages you are fluent in:

Experience with the news media (especially electronic media):

Contact Details:
(512) 863-(office)