Welcome to Platypus in 2024! We look forward to continuing to publish content on science and technology from anthropological and social science perspectives. We remain grateful to all our readers, as well as our community of Platypus volunteers who keep the blog running.
Last year we published over 60 posts and reached audiences around the world; see the full 2023 Year in Review. This year, we have our largest team yet of Contributing Editors and Multimodal Contributing Editors, a fantastic group of folks from several continents with wide-ranging research interests. Interested in publishing on Platypus? Read the editor bios below and don’t hesitate to reach out to a Contributing Editor or Multimodal Contributing Editor with relevant interests. (You may find their contact information by clicking on their names.) If you’re unsure of who to reach out to, email the Managing Editor, Katie Ulrich, at email@example.com.
Alex Rewegan is a Ph.D. candidate in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS) at the Massachusetts Institue of Technology. He is a cultural and medical anthropologist studying the relationships between drugs and the environment in North America, from public health to agriculture. His dissertation focuses on how science and technology, broadly defined, are employed by different actors in the ongoing construction of legalized cannabis markets in the United States and Canada. Alex is interested in soliciting and supporting blog posts focused on food and agriculture, drugs, policing, and surveillance technologies.
Amy is a PhD student in the department of anthropology at the University of Michigan. Her interests are at the intersection of environmental justice, medical anthropology, and the critical study of public health science in the U.S. and Latin America. She is also interested in multidisciplinary collaboration and how ethnographic data can be put in conversation with other knowledge practices.
Amy is a fourth year undergraduate student completing her degree at Columbia University in Psychology, Computer Science, and Anthropology. She has worked in Corporate Social Responsibility role for Big tech; led non-profit using technology to bridge gender gap in mental health coverage, and an anthropology consultancy. Amy is interested in the intersection of AI, mental health, and the human experience. She is interested in the STS, applied anthropology (how to activate anthropology to produce social change and impact, anthropology in business), anthropology of healing, mental health, algorithms, big data, quantum computing and wellness.
Ana is a doctoral student in anthropology at Oregon State University, working with cultures of computing and producing knowledge at the intersection of anthropology and Science and Technology Studies (STS). Her research interests include artificial intelligence; digital and data-driving technologies.
Clarissa is artisan, educator and researcher, working on the border between science and art. At the moment, Clarissa is a doctoral candidate in Social Sciences (IFCH-UNICAMP) and develops research about body and production of academic knowledge, working with anthropologists and their menstruation experiences during fieldwork. Master in Brazilian Cultures and Identities (IEB-USP), bachelor in Industrial Design (Mackenzie – ProUni) and Social Sciences (FFLCH-USP), interested in the interfaces between body, biology, technology and culture, dialoguing with feminist, decolonial and anticapitalists.
Cydney (they/she) is a transdisciplinary water scholar guided by the premise that equity and justice are fundamental to creating more sustainable futures. Their research incorporates methods from the critical social sciences, natural sciences, and theatre/performance studies to explore human-technology-environment relations. Much of Cydney’s work is focused on water realities in Northeast Brazil and the US. Their ongoing research in the semi-arid region of Ceará, Northeast Brazil explores how socionatural (i.e., interrelated sociopolitical, environmental, and technological) processes shape and are shaped by the lived experience of water insecurity across the rural hinterlands. Cydney has experience working in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Deniz is a cultural anthropology PhD student at Binghamton University. His research is located at an intersection of anthropology, education, and STS. He conducted ethnographic fieldwork for two years with two different course-based undergraduate research programs (abbreviated as CUREs) in an Upstate New York public university. In his dissertation, based on his fieldwork, he is planning to focus on CUREs, emerging research pedagogies, neoliberalization of/in higher education, and limitations of neoliberal critique.
Gabrielle is a PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology at Binghamton University. Her dissertation work is with American amputees as they cultivate new bodily relationships via prosthetic technology. She traces the formation of new subjectivities in medical spaces and engages with the relationship between the altered body, gender, and disability.
Iván has a Ph.D. in Anthropological Sciences from the Metropolitan Autonomous University, Iztapalapa campus. Iván is a lecturer at the Universidad Iberoamericana Puebla and at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Studies, Puebla campus. Iván’s doctoral project focused on the transition from gaming to sports and work in the case of young Mexican video gamers aspiring to become professional digital athletes. Research Interests: Video games, leisure, labor, work, digital anthropology, ethnography, digital art, Mexico, Latin America.
Jessica has a PhD from the anthropology department at Rice University. Her research focuses on the role of surveillance and policing technologies in livable futures. As a legal and political anthropologist, she is fundamentally interested in personhood and illegality within ethical and technical entanglements. These interests are rooted in her ethnographic fieldwork with organizers and police officers in Houston, Texas. Her research traces how technolegal devices embody moral distinctions, pose questions about race and colonialism, help people imagine liveable futures, and addresses questions of secrecy and intimacy in the contemporary United States.
Jessica is a Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology at York University, Canada. Jessica studies bioenergy schemes in Mauritius, through which she examines the possibilities and complications of using sugarcane, a plant rooted in colonialism, to actualize energy futures. Her work queries how biofuels derived from sugarcane and its competitor plant, Arundo Dona, refigure popular imaginaries of what counts as ‘sustainable’ in an increasingly carbon-constrained world.
Kim Fernandes a writer, researcher and educator interested in disability, data and technology. They are also a joint PhD candidate in Anthropology & Education at the University of Pennsylvania, where their dissertation focuses on how disability is identified and enumerated in urban India. Kim is on X @kimmerrlee.
Lucas is a PhD student in the Department of Science and Technology Policy at the University of Campinas, Brazil. As an interdisciplinary scientist, he holds degrees in biological, health, and social sciences. Currently, his research focuses on public participation in health technology assessment for drugs treating rare diseases. His interests span the anthropology of science and health, public participation and engagement, perspectives from the Global South, biotechnologies and their markets and materialities. He has experience in science communication and public engagement across various health research topics, including tropical neglected diseases, rare diseases, disabilities, and public health.
Natalia is a PhD candidate in the School of Anthropology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and actively participates in the Latin American Network of Digital Anthropology and the STS-Chile Network. She studies the 5G rollout in her country, moving between antennas to explore how the system is created, used and resisted in everyday life. Her research interests are critical infrastructure studies, telecommunication governance, digital disconnection studies and the anthropology of mobile phones.
Nishanth is a graduate student at the Department of Science and Technology Studies at RPI. His area of focus falls broadly within the realms of biomedicine, technologies of care, governance, and social movements. His first published paper is titled “Grappling with Morphine: A Local History of Painkiller Use in Kerala, India” (Canadian Bulletin of Medical History).
Paige is a PhD candidate in the department of anthropology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Paige’s research examines the digital transformation of the American health system and its implications for access, equity, and work. Paige’s dissertation project investigates how digital technologies designed to automate diabetes management are playing out in the everyday lives of Americans with diabetes and the health workers who care for them. Prior to graduate school, Paige worked with startup companies developing new medical devices and digital health technologies. Keywords: medical anthropology, American studies, digital health, automation, diabetes, chronic illness, care, work.
Racquel Lee is a PhD Candidate in Sociocultural Anthropology at the University of Washington. Her research explores what innovation looks like in everyday practices at joint venture universities in China through analyzing architectural design, digital technologies, and multilingual knowledge production.
Rushikesh is a PhD research scholar in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences of Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. Rushikesh’s research explores the consequences of modernity on the common lands, especially the pasture lands in India. Rushikesh is doing an ethnographic study of a nomadic pastoral community called “Dhangar,” located in the western part of India, studying their day to day dealings with the changing reality of land and their aspirations from the ‘developing’ world. Rushikesh would be interested in curating posts that deal with anything related to land, commons, nomadism, modernity, and bureaucracy. Rushikesh would also be interested in any post that broadly fits into the theme of Sociology of Knowledge.
Soojin is a Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology at Harvard University. Her doctoral project explores the sociotechnical and gendered discourses and practices surrounding personal data removal and the right to be forgotten in South Korea. Her research interests encompass digital ethnography, data harm, privacy, gender, personhood, memory and forgetting, and South Korea.
Tayeba is a PhD Candidate in Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation looks at the politics and urban ecologies of transnational greening practices and urban forestry in Pakistan. She is also broadly interested in post-colonial cities, environmental justice, and multimodal ethnography.
Thais is a scholar with a background in Social Sciences, having earned her degree from the University of Brasília, and further specialized with a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte. Currently, she is pursuing her PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Brasília. Since 2016, she has been dedicated to researching the ramifications of the Zika epidemic in Recife/Brazil, with a specific focus on the experiences of children diagnosed with the Congenital Syndrome associated with Zika Virus infection. Her research also delves into the scientific practices surrounding this epidemic. Broadly, Valim is interested in exploring themes related to childhood, disability, health, and the intersection of science in these areas.
Ashley “Thao” Dam is a medical anthropologist, budding ethnobotanist, and lecturer in the Department of Health, Ethics, and Society at Maastricht University in The Netherlands. Thao is currently an Explorer for the National Geographic Society researching indigenous Cambodian flora. Thao also writes, draws, photographs and speaks about food under the name @ThaoEatWorld.
Ziya is a Ph.D. candidate in sociocultural anthropology with a minor in geography at the University of Arizona. Currently, he is working on his doctoral dissertation focused on digital farming technologies in Turkey’s agrarian environments. His research and teaching interests are situated at the intersection of science, technology, and society; digitalization; human-technology interactions; media and technology; techno-responsibility; environment and sustainable development; multispecies ethnography; agriculture and food systems; environmental justice and climate change; financialization and green economy (decarbonization); and security studies.
Multimodal Contributing Editors
Adair is a PhD candidate in anthropology at the University of Arizona, with a minor in geography and research interests in forestry and restoration ecology. Adair researches the migration, extinction, and scientific study of plant species in a time of climate change.
Hae-Seo Kim is a PhD candidate in the department of anthropology at the University of California, Irvine. Hae-Seo’s dissertation research is about the sociopolitical environment in which outer space is explored in South Korea, where shamanist, folk, and scientific cosmologies co-constitute the material and social relations of South Korea’s space exploration. Specifically, Hae-Seo works with Korean shamans, astrology readers, political activists and science practitioners who make up South Korea’s “Space Age.” Hae-Seo is interested in learning about different cosmologies and folk stories of outer space from around the world, and in broader academic work Hae-Seo works with feminist, postcolonial, and indigenous theories of science and technology. Hae-Seo enjoys cooking, boardgames, videogames, reading sci-fi, fantasy and detective novels, and lives with two cats that are always hungry.
María is a social anthropologist from Oaxaca, México, focusing her research and practice on the webs formed by labour, technologies, territories, and development in contemporary Mexico and Central America. She approaches these topics through feminist political ecology and political economy perspectives, exploring them in academic research as well as artistic and pedagogical contexts. She coordinates Magma, an independent research-centred press and radio project devoted to climate and economic justice. She also enjoys organising workshops and working with children using tools as radio, photography, video, and cartography.
Maythe is an anthrozoologist of more-than-human kinship. Her PhD explored multispecies entanglements between dogs and their humans in Edinburgh and on the internet by addressing how nonhuman beings both actively and passively figure in the production and proliferation of complex concepts and experiences, such as race and racism, childhood and parenthood, and belonging and loneliness. Her research and art both speak to the broad question of ‘how can we live a good life together?’, making explicit why more-than-human kinship matters. Deliberately taking the phrase ‘words cannot express…’ very literally, she is invested in normalising multimodal ethnography through music, illustrations, and textile art in both academic and applied anthropology.
Prerna is an interdisciplinary researcher and educator currently employed as a Ph.D. Candidate at University of California Irvine’s Department of Anthropology. She researches comparative pedagogical cultures of science, examining how, where, and why pedagogy is designed and mobilized for radical and critical activation in the sciences. Her research takes me to multiple sites, from science education conferences and children’s museums to oral histories and biographies of scientists and educators. In her teaching and collaborations, she helps build educational and pedagogical frameworks for recognizing, characterizing, and addressing environmental and social injustices at the university and K-12 levels. With UCI EcoGovLab, she contributes to a variety of projects to translate environmental governance and justice research into teaching for students of all ages, in different disciplines, and for community activists and environmental professionals. She is a Contributing Editor in the Teaching Tools section of Fieldsights, the online blog for the Society of Cultural Anthropology, a member of the Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography (PECE), and an occasional participant in the organization Science for the People.
Rebecca Carlson is an associate professor of media anthropology at Toyo University. Her research is focused broadly on the production of subjectivities, knowledge and power in the transnational circulation of technology and digital media. She is currently studying bioscientific laboratory research and bioinformatics in Japan.
Rine is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at McGill University. They are a scholar of law, asylum, religion, and Islamic jurisprudence. They are curious about intersections between legal processes and religion.
Angela Vandenbroek, Web Producer
Angela is an assistant professor of anthropology at Texas State University. Her Ph.D. is in sociocultural anthropology from Binghamton University in the department of anthropology. She has additionally worked as an applied anthropologist in design, branding, and information technologies since 2008. Broadly speaking, her work sits at the intersection of business and design anthropology and science and technology studies and focuses on how ambitions for better futures by states, citizens, and entrepreneurs are coopted and reformed by innovation culture and its infrastructures. She has conducted research in Stockholm Sweden’s startup and innovation ecosystem and will be starting research in Austin, Texas starting Fall 2021.
Katie Ulrich, Managing Editor
Katie Ulrich is a PhD candidate in the department of anthropology at Rice University. Katie researches petrochemical replacements made from sugarcane in Brazil, like biofuels and bioplastics, working at the intersection of the anthropology of science, feminist science and technology studies, environmental anthropology, and political ecology.
Naomi Zucker, Public Relations Manager
Naomi Zucker is a PhD student in cultural anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, working at the intersection of medical anthropology and STS. Her dissertation project explores the contemporary life of psychopharmaceuticals, with a focus on drug withdrawal, discontinuation, and deprescribing.