Distinguished Research Scholars in residence at the Lemelson Center are senior experts in their fields who maintain a formal scholarly affiliation with the Smithsonian. In exchange, they bring their outside expertise and knowledge to the Smithsonian for the increase and diffusion of knowledge. Often, they are professional scholars who formally and actively collaborate with Lemelson Center and National Museum of American History staff through joint projects, proposal submissions, co-authored publications, etc., and whose work includes the regular use of the Smithsonian's archives and collections. Distinguished Research Scholars have achieved senior status within their academic community, are generally affiliated with a recognized academic institution as active or retired staff, and have an active publication record.
The Lemelson Center is proud to host the following Distinguished Research Scholars:
Robert Kargon, Ph.D., Cornell University
Robert Kargon is the Willis K. Shepard Professor of the History of Science at the Johns Hopkins University. His research areas include the history of physics and technology, Victorian science, and science and technology in America. Kargon’s long-term interests center upon the theory-practice nexus. Currently he is exploring the relationship between science/technology and the city and is developing two new book projects: Spaces of Innovation: the Laboratory, the Studio and the Clinic in Three Eras (with Stuart W. Leslie) and Science in Slave Regimes (with Maria Portuondo). Kargon is also a member of the Eco-City Initiative, a research project of Johns Hopkins, the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Westminster (London), devoted to the sustainable urban development movement. His recent books include Invented Edens: Techno-Cities of the 20th Century (with Arthur Molella, 2008); Urban Modernity: Cultural Innovation in the Second Industrial Revolution (with Miram Levin et al., 2010); and World’s Fairs on the Eve of War: Science, Technology & Modernity 1937-1942 (with Arthur Molella et al., 2015).
Michael Brian Schiffer, Ph.D., University of Arizona
Michael Brian Schiffer is an archaeologist who served on the faculty of the University of Arizona from 1975 to 2014, and most recently as the Fred A. Riecker Distinguished Professor of Anthropology. His interests have included cultural resource management, formation processes of the archaeological record, experimental archaeology (ceramics), human (nonverbal) communication, technological change, materiality, and history of electrical science and technologies. He is currently researching various failed technologies, which will become chapters in a book on “spectacular flops.” Schiffer’s books include Behavioral Archaeology (1976), Formation Processes of the Archaeological Record (1987), The Portable Radio in American Life (1991), Taking Charge: The Electric Automobile in America (1994), The Material Life of Human Beings (1999), Draw the Lightning Down: Benjamin Franklin and Electrical Technology in the Age of Enlightenment (2003), Power Struggles: Scientific Authority and the Creation of Practical Electricity Before Edison (2008, part of the Lemelson Center Studies in Invention and Innovation series), Studying Technological Change: A Behavioral Approach (2011), and The Archaeology of Science: Studying the Creation of Useful Knowledge (2013).
Edward Tenner, Ph.D., Rutgers University
Edward Tenner is a Visiting Scholar in the Rutgers Department of History and a Research Affiliate of the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School. He is author of Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences (1997) and Our Own Devices: How Technology Remakes Humanity (2003). He is working on a new book on efficiency and serendipity, exploring how the two can both reinforce and conflict with each other. Tenner believes that it is obvious that excessive reliance on accidental discovery is inefficient. Using research results from sociology, psychology, and social informatics, he argues that hyperefficiency, by restricting our peripheral vision, can similarly be what he calls "counterserendipitous". His historical and contemporary analysis will lead to suggestions of pro-serendipitous strategies for organizations and individuals.
Christopher Weaver, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Wesleyan University
Christopher Weaver, Distinguished Professor of Computational Media at Wesleyan University, is also a Lecturer and Visiting Scientist in the MIT Microphotonics Center and teaches in Comparative Media Studies at MIT. His current work trains college students to utilize the power of computer-based media to create instructional simulations for young children that demonstrate the basic principles of science and the ways those principles can be applied to their lives.
Weaver has written and contributed to over twenty-five books and publications and holds patents in telecommunications, software methods, device security, and 3D graphics. He is the former Director of Technology Forecasting for ABC and Chief Engineer to the Subcommittee on Communications for the US Congress, and founder of Bethesda Softworks, a world-renowned video game company and the creators of The Elder Scrolls role-playing series—one of the most popular franchises in the history of video games. At the Lemelson Center, Weaver is exploring the increased use of interactive media as an instructional medium, and co-directing the Videogame Pioneers Archive, a first-of-its-kind initiative to examine the creation of an industry through oral histories with its founding pioneers.