2017 Hixon Forum Participants

See the 2017 Hixon Forum page for schedule and locations of events.

Morana Alač, University of California, San Diego

“The Mute Sense and Everyday Work in Olfactory Psychophysics”

Alač is associate professor in communication and science studies at UC San Diego. She conducts ethnographic research of scientific laboratories and other settings of technology production and use where she focuses on multimodal and multisensory aspects of ordinary interactional practice.

Filippo Bertoni, Aarhaus University

“Planetary Senses: Attending to the Sociotechnical Making of Earth”

Bertoni received his PhD from Amsterdam University. His work—in the Aarhus University Research on the Anthropocene project and in an emergent creative research studio in Amsterdam—focuses on biogeochemical articulations of the planetary, through a research practice that attends to contemporary shifts in sociotechnical assemblages and their historical flows, paying attention to the reciprocal transformations of the context and the content of scientific work.

Cristobal Bonelli

“Making Sense of Non-sense: Bodies, Absences and Socio-material Memory in Southern Chile”

Bonelli is a senior researcher working in the intersection of clinical psychology, social anthropology, and science and technology studies. His research interests include healing, seeing and eating practices, as they connect (to) the materiality of the body and its memories. Thanks to a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship hosted by UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Bonelli’s research concerns how social relations are related to groundwater practices in the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile.

Jih-Fei Cheng, Scripps College

“Race, Texture, and Magnification in Twentieth-Century Virology”

Cheng’s research examines the intersections between science, technology, media representations, and social movements. He utilizes interdisciplinary feminist and queer of color approaches, including visual, textual, and historical methods, to study activist uses of media to document, mobilize action, and leverage the survival chances of communities made vulnerable to illness through systemized health and economic disparities.

Marianne de Laet, Harvey Mudd College

“In the Absence of Words”

De Laet directs the Hixon Riggs program for responsive science and engineering. Her work on sensing follows two tracks: an interest in the connections between tasting and knowing, and current fieldwork on (among other things) the presence/absence of language in living with dogs.

Joe Dumit, University of California, Davis

Fascia: Goopy, Viscous, Missing”

Dumit is professor of anthropology and the director for the Institute for Social Sciences at UC Davis. He studies how science and medicine change and how the lives of Americans, including consumers, patients, doctors and scientists also change as the nature of facts and evidence change.

Vivien Hamilton, Harvey Mudd College

“Insensible Danger: Radiation Safety in American Hospitals”

Hamilton is assistant professor of the history of science at Harvey Mudd College. She studies how physics has gained cultural authority as well as scientific expertise during the twentieth century.

Rebeca Ibáñez Martín, University of Amsterdam

“Showing, Seeing, Smelling: Exhibiting Waste Futures”

Ilbáñez Martín is a researcher at the Health, Care and the Body research group in the University of Amsterdam. She is the editor of the book Cuerpos y Diferencias (Plaza y Valdés 2012) and author of the manuscript Bad to Eat? Empirical Explorations of Fats as Food (2014). She is studying an experimental nutrient recovery system from wastewater developed at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology.

Adam Johnson, Harvey Mudd College

“Contamination: The Effect of the 1%”

Johnson is professor of chemistry at Harvey Mudd Collge. His research focuses on the design and synthesis of amino alcohol ligands with tunable steric and electronic properties in order to develop better organometallic catalysts for interesting organic transformations.

Alison Kenner, Drexel University

Workshop– “Breathtaking Through Time”

Kenner is assistant professor in the Department of Politics at Drexel University. She specializes in the study of contemporary health practices and how biomedical science and emerging technologies shape the way we understand and care for chronic disease conditions.

Jacob Lahne, Drexel University

“Making Sense: Sensory Valuation as a ‘Science From Below’”

Lahne is assistant professor of culinary arts and sciences at Drexel University. He studies sensory perception and food preparation and consumption, with a focus on craft and artisan foods, home cooking and in vivo meals.

Rachel Mayeri, Harvey Mudd College


Mayeri is a professor of media studies at Harvey Mudd where she teaches courses on animals, animated documentary, and the anthropocene. As a Los Angeles-based artist, she makes films for the nonhuman demographic, and video installations about mind-controlling parasites.

Christopher Nyerges

Nyerges is the author of multiple books, co-founder of the School of Self Reliance, and a renowned expert in foraging.

Heather Paxson, MIT

“Sensing Food Risk at the Border”

Paxson is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Anthropology at MIT. She is interested in how people craft a sense of themselves as moral beings through everyday practices, especially those activities having to do with family and food.

Laura Perini, Pomona College

“Visual Evidence Beyond the Boundaries of Expert Vision”

Perini is chair of philosophy at Pomona College and coordinator of the Science, Technology, and Society program at The Claremont Colleges. Her research focuses on the types of graphic representations used by scientists to communicate.

Madeline Schwartzman

“Parsons: the New School for Design”

Schwartzman is a New York City writer, filmmaker and architect whose work explores the human sensorium through social art, book writing, curating and experimental video making. Her book See Yourself Sensing: Redefining Human Perception (Black Dog Publishing, London, 2011) collects fifty years of futuristic proposals for the body and the senses, and her forthcoming book, titled See Yourself X: Human Futures Expanded (Black Dog, February 2017), explores the future of the human head.

Nicholas Shapiro, Chemical Heritage Foundation

“Decontamination Beyond the Chemical Register”

Shapiro is a Matter, Materials and Culture Fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation and an Open Air Fellow at Public Lab. His research revolves around the complex figure of formaldehyde as a gateway to understanding common and caustic domestic chemical ecologies and the instruments through which such invisible realities are known.

Sergio Sismondo, Queen’s University

“And Damn Near Died’: From Sensorial to Statistical Styles of Medical Inquiry”

Sismondo teaches at Queen’s University, Canada. His research is on the political economy of pharmaceutical knowledge, looking at relations between research and marketing in areas from clinical trials through medical education.

Christy Spackman, Harvey Mudd College

“Let’s Measure It: Hacking Gas Chromatography to ‘Improve’ Taste”

Spackman is the Hixon-Riggs Early Career Fellow in Science, Technology, and Society at Harvey Mudd College. Her research examines the ways that the design and technological manipulation of sensory experience shape how people use, value and react to the ingestible environment.

Sharon Traweek, UCLA


Traweek is associate professor of gender studies and history at UCLA. She is engaged in a multi-national collaboration developing digital archives and collecting oral histories among Japanese national laboratories with a focus on foreign and women scientists.

Dwight Whitaker

“Orange is the New Brown: Using an LCD Display to Experiment With Color Perception”

Whitaker is associate professor of physics at Pomona College. His early research studied low-temperature physics and quantum fluids, but now Whitaker and his group investigate the biomechanics of seed and spore dispersal by plants. In his teaching on light and optics, Whitaker has also developed a keen interest in visual perception.

Emily Yates-Doerr, University of Amsterdam

“Voices of Cortisol: Praxiographing a Concept”

Yates-Doerr is assistant professor of anthropology at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, and holds a three-year VENI innovational research grant from the Dutch Science Foundation (NWO) for the project “When Global Health Meets Local Development: A Case Study of the ‘First 1000 Days of Life’ Initiative in Guatemala.”