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Meet STS Professor Chloe Silverman

September 25, 2014


Chloe Silverman, PhD

Chloe Silverman, PhD

Chloe Silverman, PhD, joined the College last fall as an associate professor in the Center for Science, Technology and Society. In this Q&A, the social scientist reveals why she’s recently been sporting a beekeeper suit and what she hopes to add to the CoAS community.

Hometown: Palo Alto, CA
Degree: PhD in History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania
Research interests: I am interested in how emotions shape medical and scientific work, how communities of experts and non-experts collaborate on medical problems, and how scientists communicate with different publics. My current research project is on honeybee health and illness; my previous work was on autism spectrum disorders.

Q: What did you do before coming to Drexel?
A: I taught in the English department at Penn State.

Q: What’s your favorite book? Movie?
A: The best books I read this past year were “Just Kids” by Patti Smith, “Flight Behavior” by Barbara Kingsolver, and “A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki. “Blade Runner” is a movie I can watch again and again.

Q: What’s your favorite food or restaurant?
A: I love Han Dynasty on Market between 37th and 38th.

Q: If you could have dinner with three people (dead or alive) who would they be?
A: Joss Whedon, Temple Grandin and Ann Patchett

Q: What’s one thing you couldn't live without?
A: I could live without coffee, but I would be very, very sad.

Q: When is the last time you did something for the first time? What was it?
A: My current research project has meant that I’ve had to don a bee jacket and veil while observing entomologists working in honeybee colonies during the spring and summer.

Q: What was the most memorable class you took as an undergrad and why?
A: I loved all of the classes that I took during my junior year in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at University College London. Coming from a liberal arts college in the U.S., it was strange and exciting to immerse myself so deeply in a single field, and it really confirmed my love for science studies. Although I never actually took a class with him, my senior thesis advisor at Vassar, the hypertext author and theorist Michael Joyce, taught me so much about language and about trusting my instincts as a researcher and writer.

Q: Which current event/issue do you think students should know more about and why?
A: Everyone needs to understand the disability rights movement. It’s crucial for students in order to advocate for themselves, their families and friends; it’s also a set of approaches that are central to creating a more equitable world.

Q: What’s one thing every student who plans on taking one of your classes should know about you?
A: I think that expressing ideas and arguments in writing is an essential skill that matters far beyond the classroom. I push students to refine their work, but I also try to assign writing that reflects what we write in real life—not just essays, but opinion pieces, reviews, stories and descriptions.

Q: What made you want to become a professor?
A: All of the wonderful teachers I’ve encountered thus far, and continue to meet. I love introducing students to new ideas and perspectives that they can apply in their daily lives, and I love the chance to share my own research with students.

Q: What do you consider to be your biggest achievement thus far in your career?
A: I’m pretty happy about my book, “Understanding Autism: Parents, Doctors, and the History of a Disorder” (Princeton University Press, 2011).

Q: What course would you be most excited to teach at Drexel and why?
A: I’m looking forward to teaching courses on the politics of disability and animal studies. I’m also excited to design a laboratory course for the STS master’s program on cognitive difference and neurodiversity.

Q: What do you hope to add to the CoAS community?
A: The STS Center is growing in exciting directions under Kelly Joyce’s leadership. I’m thrilled to be participating in developing its national presence as a research center for science studies.

See Chloe Silverman, PhD, in action: CoAS Dean’s Seminar: “Honey Bee Health, Uncertain Illnesses, and Medical Care,” Wednesday, October 2, 2014, 3:30 – 5 PM, Disque 109.