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Drexel Undergraduate Thrives in Unique STS Co-op

Kelsey Boone
Drexel Student Kelsey Boone at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia

June 27, 2017

For her final co-op, Biology major/Politics minor Kelsey Boone found a unique position in the Center for Science, Technology, and Society that enables her to both use her interdisciplinary training and build new, marketable skill sets. Kelsey splits her time between Gwen Ottinger’s research group (the Fair Tech Collective) in the Center for STS and the Chemical Heritage Foundation, an Old City-based non-profit dedicated to the history of chemistry.

At the Fair Tech Collective, she is part of a team working with residents of refinery communities in the San Francisco Bay area to make fenceline air monitoring data more accessible to ordinary people. At CHF, she processes interviews conducted by Ottinger on the history of fenceline air monitoring for inclusion in the organization’s extensive oral history collection, working under the direction of Lee Berry, Curator of Oral Histories and Dave Caruso, Director for the Center for Oral History. Kelsey’s co-op is made possible by National Science Foundation Award #1352143.

Kelsey’s academic path at Drexel demonstrates the power of exploration and the integration of different fields. Beginning freshman year, she had doubts as to whether a career in biological science was the right choice for her, and began to investigate other possibilities within the university. After taking a class in environmental politics she realized her strengths and interests were centered more upon the integration of social science and natural science, which led her to co-op in the Center for Science, Technology, and Society.

In her co-op, Kelsey is developing her experience with social science research methods by collecting public data, taking field notes on participatory design meetings and regulatory hearings, and helping to analyze interview transcripts. At the same time, she is learning techniques of historical preservation, formatting, annotating, and cataloging interviews in a way that will allow future scholars and researchers to use their contents for their own research. Kelsey is practicing technical skills, as well, participating in data analysis and presentation of monitoring data for community members, and maintaining the Fair Tech Collective website. “My experience has given me insight into environmental issues and policy through first-hand accounts," Kelsey says, "as well as given me a chance to work across disciplines and with people in differing fields."