outdoor headshot of Victoria Lee

Victoria Lee

Cain Conference Fellow

Victoria Lee is an associate professor in the History Department at Ohio University and director of the Technology and Society Certificate. She is a historian of modern science and technology, with a focus on the role of Japan in the 20th and 21st centuries. Her book, The Arts of the Microbial World: Fermentation Science in Twentieth-Century Japan (University of Chicago Press, 2021) looks at Japanese society’s engagement with microbes in science, industry, and environmental management. It explores how fermentation expanded beyond small-scale traditional manufactures to take special prominence in food, resources, and medicine, addressing scientists’ and technicians’ role in defining the texture of everyday life and material culture as an aspect of political economy, demonstrating that knowledge of microbes lay at the heart of some of Japan’s most prominent technological breakthroughs in the global economy. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, NPR’s All Things Considered, and Mediapart.

With Jeremy A. Greene (The Johns Hopkins University), Dolly Jørgensen (University of Stavanger, Norway), and Amy Slaton (Drexel University), Victoria organized the 2023 Gordon Cain Conference, “Science in Humanities, Humanities in Science: Embedded Connections.”

Victoria was also a 2011–2012 Ullyot Scholar at the Institute (then Chemical Heritage Foundation). Her research project was titled “Synthetic Fermentation and Applied Biology in Japan, 1910–1960.”

More from Victoria Lee

Notebook cover with marbled paint

Science in Humanities, Humanities in Science: Embedded Connections

Historians and social scientists of science, technology, and medicine discuss their collaborative work to develop and deploy “embedded connections” in the humanities and STEM fields.