Jason Oakes

Project Manager

CSTMS Research Unit: Berkeley Program in Science and Technology Studies, PMH, Office for the History of Science and Technology, CSTMS
Affiliation period: September 2016 -


Degrees PhD in History and Sociology of Science :: University of Pennsylvania (2014)
MA in History and Sociology :: University of Pennsylvania (2010)
BA in Biology :: Reed College (2000)
Research Areas

I am a research associate in Science and Technology Studies at UC Davis. My research orbits around the history of biology and the human sciences in the 20th century. I’ve been interested in the interactions between the research systems of biology and economics for a while, and recently I’ve been thinking more generally about how different lines of research work impinge on and facilitate one another.

For instance, it has been noted that economics and political economy often borrow concepts from biology and natural history. And, in turn, biology has frequently used models and procedures developed by economists. Why is this so? And how does it happen, specifically? Does it happen differently in different specialties and situations? How? And why?

Additionally, I am interested in 'histories of the future.' That is, how conceptions and notions of the future have changed over recent human history. Some of these conceptions are ‘cultural’ in the sense that they go on outside of the requirements of technical work such as scientific research, though of course that’s an unsupportable distinction to make with any precision. But different ideas of what the natural and human-built world will look like in 20 years, or 200, are also dependent on the technical modeling practices of researchers in many specialties. How many people will there be? Will there be enough stuff? How high will the sea levels rise? What will the climate be like? These propositions about the future are different in 2016 than they were in 1984, and different again than in 1968.

I’m also interested in how histories of the future and the human sciences interact with social movements and policy concerns, though this last piece of my research is still under-specified. I’m looking forward to making it less so soon.

last updated: September 21st, 2016

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