Science History Institute
Untold Stories: Making Exhibitions More Inclusive
Each year Nobel Prizes are awarded to a handful of people—overwhelmingly white men—in recognition of great scientific accomplishments. Nobel season is one of the few times that basic research gets widespread news coverage. But the image of science projected by the Nobel Prize is deeply unrepresentative of how contemporary science is actually done.
Recently curators at the Science History Institute rethought the stories we tell about two original instruments that led to Nobel Prizes in chemistry: Bruce Merrifield’s Automated Peptide Synthesizer (1984) and John Fenn’s Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometer (2002). These instruments, which are both on display in our museum, emerged from academic laboratories that employed women and men working in a variety of roles, supported by families and communities. Beyond those labs were universities, generous government funding, immigration policies, and broader changes in technology that made advances in science and medicine possible during the second half of the 1900s.
About the Speaker
Roger Turner is an historian and storyteller. His particular scholarly expertise is in 20th-century atmospheric science, scientific instruments, and environmental monitoring.
At the Science History Institute, Roger helped launch the student role-playing game Science Matters: The Case of Rare Earth Elements, worked on the film The Instrumental Chemist, developed the playful online experience Instruments of Change, and contributes to museum exhibits. He also writes the occassional Distillations story.
Before coming to the Institute, Roger taught at colleges and worked as a public history consultant, advising on oral history preservation, collections development, and public communications. His research on weather forecasting has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the American Meteorological Society, and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. You can read the bits with neat pictures at PicturingMeteorology.com.
About the Series
Now combined with our Saturday Speaker Series, Lunchtime Lectures take a rigorous and entertaining approach to exploring topics for scholars and anyone interested in stories about the history of science. The talks help expand perceptions of the nature of science and how it’s done. This season, our speakers are exploring issues of gender, race, and colonialism in the history of the physical and biological sciences from the early modern period to the 21st century.