My ethnographic research examines forms of life in the contemporary arts and sciences. My book, Rendering Life Molecular (Duke University Press, 2015) is an ethnography of an interdisciplinary group of scientists who make living substance come to matter at the molecular scale. This book maps protein modeling techniques in the context of the ongoing molecularization of life in the biosciences. It explores how protein modelers’ multidimensional data forms are shifting the cusp of visibility, the contours of the biological imagination, and the nature of living substance. What, it asks, does life become in their hands?
With support from an Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Government and a SSHRC RDI Grant, I convened the Plant Studies Collaboratory in 2010 to serve as a node for collaborative interdisciplinary research on plant-based ecologies and economies. In new work, I’m investigating how the phenomena of plant sensing and communication are galvanizing inquiry in both the arts and the sciences. This project documents the “affective ecologies” that take shape between plants and people, and among plants and their multi-species affines. As artists and scientists share their work they are propagating new kinds of plant publics. I am tracking how these publics are expanded through what might best be called “end-of-time” botanical tourism in sites like botanical gardens, where vulnerable plant ecologies are displayed for the purposes of climate change education. For more on my past, current, and ongoing research projects click here.
In my teaching I explore the history of anthropological theory, sensory anthropology, multispecies ethnography, feminist technoscience, the intersections of race, gender and science, the craft of scientific practice, and the power of facts in social worlds.