Meet Our Graduate Students

PhD Students
/ Applied Ethics / History of Science / MAIS

 Current PhD Students

Nicholas Blanchard 

Nicholas Blanchard

(ABD, Farber)

I moved to Corvallis from California's San Joaquin Valley and in the process traded two seasons for four. I was beside myself in autumn and cannot wait to see this thing called spring. Fresno was very good to me, however. I completed a bachelor's and a master's degree in biology at California State University, Fresno. My undergraduate interests centered on ecology and evolution, while my graduate project dealt with molecular genetics and plant pathology. I spent summers in the field, at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, and at the University of Tennessee. Mulling over my choices at the end of my first masters, I visited Oregon State and was immediately drawn to the History of Science program. My experience thus far has left me pleased that I took the tangent that led me here. The warmth, enthusiasm, and commitment of my mentors and colleagues are telling of the pride and fulfillment they find in their work.

My interests in the history of science gravitate toward evolutionary biology. Subsidiary and related interests include: developmental biology, evolutionary theory, animal science (i.e. artificial selection), plant pathology, and famine study. I travel whenever the opportunity arises. I also enjoy a good game of basketball, however much it suffers once I join in. I am obsessed with old cars and older architecture. As time and money allow, I also collect and restore antique furniture and obsolete gadgets.

Barbara Canavan 

Barbara C. Canavan

(ABD, Guerrini)

Barbara’s dissertation in progress is entitled, “Avian Influenza: Opening Pandora’s Box at the Roof of the World”. By means of historical analyses of avian influenza, a case study, and oral interviews with scientists, Barbara’s dissertation examines bird flu at the human-animal interface. Beginning with the “fowl plague” in the late nineteenth century, the dissertation examines change over time in how scientists came to understand avian influenza.

Throughout, historical accounts of human influenza are parallel with reports of flu in animal species such as pigs, horses, and birds. When virologists first proposed a link between human and bird viruses, both veterinarians and medical practitioners dismissed the idea. It is a story about a paradigm shift in scientific understanding. The primary actors in the case study include an aquatic bird that migrates over the Himalayas to a large lake on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (Roof of the World); a railroad to Tibet that traverses the vast permafrost landscape; an avian virus that first appeared in 1997; scientific knowledge networks; and people and geopolitics.

Barbara examines the points of controversy about the role of bird migration in spreading avian flu viruses into new geographic areas. Although remote in location, Qinghai is a critical place to understand the interconnections of history, bioscience, ecology, climate change, and global health. The research will deepen knowledge about the ecological pathways of viruses and the role of interdisciplinary knowledge networks in their discovery. Actors and events at Qinghai serve as powerful heuristic tools to understand the past and the present of avian influenza.

Laura Cray 

Laura Cray

My research currently focuses upon the biological sciences of the nineteenth and early twentieth century.  Most recently, I have been researching the history of myrmecology (the social study of ants) and entomology and am in the process of writing about William Morton Wheeler’s efforts to apply his observations on the social structure of ant colonies to social planning in human societies in the 1910s-1930s. Other areas of interest include the history of the natural sciences, and cartography.

An Oregon native, I received my BA in Anthropology from Western Oregon University.  There, my research focused upon historical archaeology of homesteading in the American West.  My honors thesis, “Rock Walls and Rusted Dreams: An Archaeological Examination of Homesteading on the Crooked River National Grassland, Oregon,” examined the cultural, economic, and ecological causes for the collapse of the homesteads in the 1930s and the ways in which those events have contributed to modern conditions on the Grassland. Also included was a discussion of cognized environments and the ways in which they shape human understanding of the world through culture and individual interaction with the landscape. I hope to apply my anthropological background to the history of science to create an interface between scientific thought and constructions of social and physical environments.

Brenda Keller 

Brenda Kellar

Did you know that the European honey bee, Apis mellifera L., is an introduced species in North America? How would the United States be different if that introduction had not taken place? Perhaps the recent bee mortality problem has made you wonder what will happen if honey bees disappear from the U.S.? These are the questions that started my fascination with agricultural economics and technologies.

Closely tied to those fields, and equally fascinating, is the way in which knowledge about pollination grew and disseminated. Three hundred years separated Nehemiah Grew's (1641-1712) identification of pollen as the male in sexual plant reproduction and the 20th century acceptance of honey bees' importance to pollination for many plant species. My research focuses on those three hundred years.



Linda Richards 

Linda Richards

(ABD, Hamblin)

In 1972, before my ninth birthday, I wrote President Nixon and asked him to send my father home from Vietnam. Instead, on my birthday, the June issue of Life magazine arrived on my doorstep. In the magazine was the now famous picture of nine-year-old Kim Phuc, running after being napalmed by American forces. Just as napalm was a product of chemists in a laboratory, I found science intimately connected to dominance. I studied science with the intention of understanding both its application to nuclear warfare, as well as its potential to create health and sustainability.

I have a BS in Science/Math with a Peace Studies minor from Southern Oregon University (SOU). As a certified mediator, journalist, community organizer, public education employee, and co-director of a small nonprofit, I have been educating the public and students about nuclear issues and conflict resolution in a variety of settings for over 20 years. My SOU Masters in Management project was collaboration for veterans' health with the Military Science Department. At my graduation in 2007, I was awarded the Universidad de Guanajuato Award at Southern Oregon University as the female outstanding graduate student. My interests in the history of science are broad, encompassing nuclear science, environmental history, leadership, ethics, and traditional ecological knowledge. I am thrilled to have access to Atomic Energy Archives, and the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Special Collection, and the amazing faculty at OSU. I intend to research nuclear history and create nuclear history curriculum from the environmental justice perspective, with a minor in Peace Studies. I look forward to obtaining a PhD from OSU and an academic career as an effective communicator and teacher. A commentary by Linda, "No More War! 50 Years Later," was published in Life@OSU, and she was recently profiled in the article "Peace on Earth is at the heart of OSU doctoral candidate's work."

Andy Hahn Andy Hahn

My interest in the history and philosophy of science began after I graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a BA in philosophy and a minor in mathematics.  Through the history and philosophy of science, I found scientific explanations and methods which I had not previously come across that suited my affinity for the arts and humanities.  In particular, I became interested in Goethe's morphology and the use of the imagination as a tool to understand the natural world. 

To study Goethe's work in closer detail, I completed a Masters of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies here at OSU.  My thesis looked at his use of the imagination in The Metamorphosis of Plants while placing it in three distinct contexts:  its own historical context, it's potential contributions to current theories of natural aesthetics, and its application in a contemporary institution that interacts with adult learners and is engaged in the debate over the use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture.

As a PhD student in the History of Science program here at OSU, I want to continue to look at Goethe's morphology, turning to how it has been received, interpreted, and put to use since Goethe's original formulation. 

Mason Tattersall

Mason Tattersall

(ABD, Luft)

Mason Tattersall is a doctoral candidate in the History and Philosophy of Science who works in the fields of modern intellectual history and the history of science, primarily dealing with the history of questions of relational and transcendent meaning, epistemology, and ontology in European philosophy and the history of science (particularly quantum mechanics). Other areas of interest include: the history of philosophy, particularly the thought of Martin Heidegger; issues of authenticity, meaning, belief, and the history of nihilism; the existentialist tradition, especially Heidegger, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche; historiography and historical thinking; the history of scientific thought, art, literature, expressionism, and visual culture (especially film).

Mason received his BA and MA at the University of British Columbia. BA Honours Thesis: "Encountering Historiography: The Possibility of a Heidegger-Friendly Historiography." MA Thesis: "The Concept of Authenticity in Heidegger's Being and Time: Thoughts and Revisions on a Critical Theme." He is currently working on his PhD thesis on the intersection between philosophy and theoretical physics in Central and Northern Europe in the 1920s.


Edwin Wollert

Edwin Wollert holds a master's in philosophy from Ohio University and a master's in history from American Public University.

He has taught the former for ten years, the latter for two, at the University of Alaska Anchorage and its satellite campus at Matanuska-Susitna College.  He runs a tiny publishing company called Stone Ring Press when he's not studying history of science at OSU, and is an avid hiker, backpacker, and global explorer, having lived in Australia, Mexico, and Wales before moving to the Willamette Valley.  

His doctoral research will explore medicine and science in Tudor England, and will include considerations of humoral theory, alchemy, observational health care, plague, and sweating sickness.  He lives with his supportive and lovely wife, two high maintenance cats, and two rambunctious dogs.

Emily Simpson

Emily Simpson

Emily is a PhD student in the History of Science program at Oregon State University.  Her primary areas of interest are the history of physics and astronomy, the history of cosmology and cosmogony, and the history of the plurality of worlds debate. 

Emily has performed the bulk of her research in Classical and pre-modern astronomy and cosmology and in fictional depictions of extraterrestrial life in seventeenth and eighteenth-century literature.  Emily is currently working on projects in the modern era to extend her scope of knowledge and understand new ways in which the characterization of the extraterrestrial “other” can tell us a great deal about the interdependent relationships among science, culture, and politics.  Other interests include religion and science, science in literature, and U.S. environmental and nuclear history.

Emily received her M.A. from the University of North Texas, completing a thesis entitled “Cosmology, Extraterrestrial Life, and the Development and Character of Western European Thought in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.”  Her research goals are to never stop learning new things, encountering new ways to look at the world, or being surprised by what she finds. 

Tamara Caulkins

Tamara Caulkins
Having taken every science class offered by my high school, I entered college as a pre-med major but was drawn away to music, fascinated by the physics and beauty of sound. Musicology and historic performance practices were central to my study of the classical guitar (MM, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Royal Conservatory of Music in Madrid, Spain). Returning to the sciences through the field of history, I am fascinated by the role of spectacle, aesthetics, and sociability in establishing epistemic authority.

In my master’s thesis in history (MA, Central Washington University), I explored the nascent bourgeois values that the 18th century naturalist Georg-Louis LeClerc de Buffon wrote into his encyclopedic Natural History: General and Particular. I continue to be captivated by the tension between the natural world and the industry, global trade, and high culture that developed over the long eighteenth century.

My current research focuses on the intersections of natural history, culture, and the body through the lens of visual representation in early modern France. Having studied historic dance reconstruction using Feuillet notation (1700-1750) with Wendy Hilton (Stanford) and Anna Mansbridge (Seattle Early Dance), I am hoping to find connections between the way early moderns translated graphic notation on a page into movement and the development of visual graphics in science.

Current Masters Students (History of Science)

Return to Top

Eric ReddingtonEric Reddington

Originally from Oregon, Eric first completed a B.A. in philosophy here at Oregon State University. While an undergraduate, he worked with department faculty doing research and writing and associated with an off-campus discussion group for students of philosophic pragmatism.

Initially, he was interested in the study of science from a discipline-centric perspective utilizing philosophy's entrenched methods. However, aided by additional academic exposure, his intellectual horizons began to shift when he explored an idea encountered in a paper by Carol Cleland, which argued for the asymmetry of causes and effects and affirmed the importance of historical research methodology in the development of both philosophic and scientific knowledge alike. Strongly influenced by this and subsequent revelations, he began to take interdisciplinarity and methodological pluralism seriously and, not unexpectedly, recognized the importance in developing a degree of competence in conducting historical studies.

Reddington's current academic research focuses on medicine in the twentieth-century, particularly on biotechnology, medical ethics, and human experimentation. He is additionally familiar with the history and science of renal transplantation and dialysis therapy and continues to stay abreast of ongoing debates in the philosophy of science. He plans to complete a Ph.D before entering a research and writing profession.

When he can find the time, Eric's hobbies include dabbling in computer programming and learning Gnu/Linux operating systems.

Anna DvorakAnna Dvorak

Anna Dvorak graduated from Michigan State University with a BS in History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Science.  Originally a Genetics major, she found discussing interactions between society and science, much more interesting and rewarding.  History of Science served as a way to unite the hard science classes she was taking with her love for her history electives.  As an undergrad, Anna focused on science in the World War Two era, and in the Third Reich in particular.  She finds the contradictions that existed in German society at this time, and how they were translated into the Nazi practice of science and their views of science, especially intriguing. 

During her time at MSU she planned an independent study that delved into the atomic bomb projects in the United States and Germany.  This sparked her interest in the atomic bomb and the politics surrounding its use and development when World War Two ended.  She has continued in this vein with her Masters work, which focuses on the debate Linus Pauling and Edward Teller had in 1958, and their books published shortly thereafter, arguing the issues surrounding nuclear proliferation and disarmament, and how the Cold War could be ended.  Although these two men have differing opinions as to the development of nuclear weapons, their approaches were very similar and stemmed from childhood experiences.

In her free time, Anna enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest by biking, skiing, and running, and experimenting in the kitchen.





 Is this space reserved for you?

Joshua McGuffieJoshua McGuffie

Joshua McGuffie has taken a winding path to get to graduate studies at Oregon State. He received a BA in Geography from UCLA in 2002 and a Master of Divinity from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley in 2006. He also has taken classes at Buffalo State College in the Earth Science and Science Education department. Since 2007, he has worked at parishes of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in Los Angeles and rural Western New York. His academic interests are a hodgepodge of his earlier degrees: the interaction between science and religion, ethics and the environment, the popularisation of scientific ideas, and the geologic history of climate change. Josh is looking forward to integrating his interest in the humanities with his experience in the Earth Sciences. 

Current Masters Students (Applied Ethics)

Return to Top

Laura Rhoades-Stovall  

Laura Rhoades-Stovall

I am a graduate student in the Applied Ethics (Philosophy) dpt. working on my second Master of Arts degree. My first M.A. is in History from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville with my thesis being on Queen Elizabeth I as a monster. I am also a mother of three with a son studying at OSU in Geology.  I am also married to a fellow Applied Ethics graduate student, David Stovall.

My area of interests are aesthetic philosophy and art. My thesis work centers around the ethics of display in regards to human remains, especially where medical museums are concerned. The questions I am interested in answering are: Whether these displays are ethical, especially in this day and age? What part does the treating of human remains as objects have in regards to such things as organ donation and treatment of the dead? Do human remains displays really give us a true understanding of human biology or is it a modern type of "freak show"? I intend to pursue a Ph.D. after earning my M.A. in Philosophy.

Thomas McElhinny


Thomas McElhinny

Thomas is a native Oregonian, having grown up in the Portland metro area.  Since graduating from Oregon State University with a BS in Philosophy he has followed his interests to an internship with Amnesty International in San Francisco and back to attend to some unfinished business with philosophy.  Thomas is an avid white water rafter in the summers, music fanatic, and wanderer, as well as working as a graduate teaching assistant.

Thomas’ academic interests, particularly in applied ethics, focus on the confluence of activism, the web, and privilege.  Considering the vast wealth and opportunity stratification worldwide, the uncertain future of anthropogenic climate change, and failures to meet these challenges (amongst others) with the action required, seems to require individuals to reassess our moral duties to act, and how we act, so as to alleviate harms.

Chih-Wei Peng

Chih-Wei Peng comes from Taiwan. He graduated from National Tsing Hua University with a master’s degree in physics, and was a semiconductor engineer for five years. After quitting his job, he “wandered” at Fu Jen Catholic University and Harvard University in order to study philosophy for four years. His interests in philosophy are broad, including environmental philosophy, moral philosophy, philosophy of religion, metaphysics, existentialism, Buddhism and Taoism.


Claude Bullock

Claude was born in Long Island, New York. He moved to Richland, Washington when he was a sophomore in high school. Once he experienced the Great North West, he is never going back east (except to visit). He received his B.A. of Philosophy in 2013 from Washington State University.

His interests are in race as a social construct and how the social hierarchy is created. He wants to look at who has access to power and why. He also is interested in environmental philosophy.

Current Masters Students (MAIS)

Return to Top

Jane Yao

Jane Yao

“If you don’t know where you are going, you had better know where you come from.” This in my view echoes what I find in the Bible:”Out of the dust wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Genesis 3:19b) I had searched for ten long years for the meaning of my existence until Divine Providence guided me to Corvallis from my hometown, a serene small village. In 2002, I received my B.A. in History from Fudan University in China. As a MAIS student with two fields in History and one in English, I have decided to focus on Christianity in modern China. By focusing on the issue of identity, I will explore how, in the late nineteenth century, Chinese Christians negotiated their new identity by embracing their nation, adopting a foreign religion, and aspiring to be cosmopolitan. I am also interested in examining how Chinese converts and Western missionaries shaped each other as they worked in tandem to establish a Chinese Christendom.

Susanne RanseenSusanne Ranseen

ecology, forest management, history

I received my BA in world history from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California in December of 2008.  I am currently working on my MAIS combining ecology, forest management, and history which allows me to work both in the FES (Forest Ecosystem and society) and the History department.

My thesis concerns the impact of suppression management on tree and fuel density in dry forested systems dominated by Ponderosa Pine and how it affects high severity fires in those areas.  This summer I traveled to the Coconino National Forest near Flagstaff Arizona to have a first-hand look at the Schultz Fire area and to study the fire’s impact and species recovery two years after a high severity fire.  By looking at the history and language of fire management combined with the realities on-the-ground of high severity fires, I was able to get a sense of the health of dry forested systems in the American Southwest.