I am a curator at the Science Museum (London) and a historian of science with expertise in two main areas: the interrelation of art and science, particularly with regard to modernism; and the history of scientific instrumentation.
My current book manuscript, provisionally titled Scientific Moderns, deals with a number of interwar projects that characterised themselves as both scientific and artistic – these schemes, typically utopian in their ambitions, bore the imprint of continental modernism but were particularly adapted to the British ideology of 'planning' and the 'social relations of science'. A particular focus is on the way these projects relied on and entailed 'modern' citizens, and how these new citizens were to be managed and communicated with by the new breed of elite artist/scientist.
At the Max Planck I will be working in more detail on the role of social data gathering in this context, exploring the data-gathering practices of the social survey movement 'Mass-Observation' (founded 1937) and expanding the scope of my research to take in developments outside the United Kingdom (in particular US public opinion polling and sociometry).
Previous studies have focused on the material culture of science. Having working on early-modern astronomical instrumentation and the history of the microscope, I now intend to write a series of papers broadening the scope of what constitutes a scientific instrument. A current paper uses the example of a modernist laboratory was itself a giant scientific instrument, and a future project will take the case of early-modern astronomical texts and their use as instruments. This methodology is also relevant to my current project on social data, in which I consider the development and circulation of sociological metrics as instruments.