David Munns is an associate professor of the history of science and technology at John Jay College, CUNY. He earned his MPhil from the University of Sydney, and his PhD from The Johns Hopkins University. His published work encompasses the history of modern life and physical sciences and technology, environmental history, Anthropocene studies, and waste studies. He is the author of three books, mostly recently Far Beyond the Moon: A History of Life Support Systems in the Space Age. (Pittsburgh University Press, 2021). Coauthored with Kärin Nickelsen, the work reveals how the development of artificial life support systems were as important as the development of rockets in the space age.
With a broad teaching and research profile that additionally includes the history of early modern astronomy, the history of the atomic age, and the history of eugenics and euthenics, Munns is currently working on three interlocking projects. First, “*TRONS: The Story of the Suffix that was the 20th Century,” which compiles about 30 technoscientific devices and their stories carrying the suffix -tron. Second, “Civilizing the Atom: Nuclear Engineers, Teaching Reactors, and the Atomic Age,” another technoscientific history of teaching reactors, distinct from reactors for either weapons or power, that argues that what students gained from their education and experience in the midst of a Cold War was the knowledge and assurance that they could administer their modernist State. While at the Institute, he will be working on his third project: another coauthored work, this time with Allison Kavey, “Not a Decree of Fate: A New History of Eugenics.”