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Drexel Visiting Research Professor Nicholas Shapiro, Center for Science, Technology & Society

Nicholas Shapiro, PhD

Visiting Research Professor
Center for Science, Technology and Society


  • BA, Anthropology and Global Public Health, Bard College
  • MPhil, Medical Anthropology, University of Oxford
  • DPhil, Anthropology, University of Oxford

Research Interests:

  • Everyday Infrastructure
  • DIY scientific instrumentation
  • Biopolitics
  • Critical theory
  • Multispecies ethnography


Nicholas Shapiro is a Matter, Materials and Culture Fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation and an Open Air Fellow at the grassroots environmental monitoring non-profit 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. For his doctoral work he tracked the quasi-legal resale of 150,000 former emergency housing units (FEMA trailers) as they were resold across the country using a medley of ethnography, analytically chemistry and GIS mapping.

During a post-doc at Goldsmiths, University of London, I helped to develop a participatory design project aimed at monitoring the air quality impacts of unconventional natural gas extraction in northeastern Pennsylvania. Nick’s work on the chemicals that hold together and corrode late industrial words moves between the social sciences, the natural sciences and the arts.

Selected Publications:


  • Shapiro, N. “Attuning to the Chemosphere: Domestic Formaldehyde, Bodily Reasoning, and the Chemical Sublime” Cultural Anthropology. August 2015, 30(3): 368–393.
  • Shapiro, N. “Un-knowing Exposure: Toxic Emergency Housing, Strategic Inconclusivity and Governance in the US Gulf South.” In Knowledge, Technology, and the Law, eds Cloatre, E & Pickersgill, M. 2014, Routledge.
  • Kirksey, E, Shapiro, N & Brodine, M. “Hope in Blasted Landscapes.” Social Science Information. June 2013, 52(2): 228-256. Republished in The Multispecies Salon, ed. Kirksey, E, 2014, Duke University Press.
  • Kirksey, E, Schuetze, C & Shapiro, N. “Poaching at the Multispecies Salon” an introduction to a special section of the Journal of the Kroeber Anthropological Society, June 2011, 100(1): 129-153.