Cathryn Carson


Chair, Department of History


AB, 1990, University of Chicago, history and philosophy of science; also completed requirements for AB, physics, and SB, mathematics

AM, 1993, Harvard University, physics

PhD, 1995, Harvard University, history of science

Research Interests

Primary fields

  • History of 20th-century physics: conceptual, cultural, social, political
  • Relations between science and philosophy and between scientists and philosophers
  • History of science in Germany and the United States
  • Nuclear history
  • History and ethnography of contemporary research institutions

Secondary fields

  • History of technology
  • Modern German history
  • Intellectual history (European, U.S.)

Current Research

  • Heidegger and modern theoretical physics
  • Ethnography of data science
  • Engineering nuclear waste: Constructing knowledge and uncertainty across timescales

Campus Service

Operational Lead, Data Science Education Program, 2016-present

Chair of the Faculty Advisory Board, Data Science Planning Initiative, 2015-2016 (info here, FAB report here)

Co-Chair, Data Sciences Education Rapid Action Team, 2014 (report: Sketch 1.2, 1/19/2015)

Associate Dean of Social Sciences, 2010-2014

Operational Lead and Interim Director, D-Lab (Social Sciences Data Laboratory), 2012-2014

Berkeley Collegium Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, 2017

Distinguished Service Award, Division of Social Sciences, 2014

Carol D. Soc Distinguished Graduate Student Mentoring Award, 2014


"Reflections on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident" Co-Editor (with Joonhong Ahn, Mikael Jensen, Kohta Juraku, Shinya Nagasaki, and Satoru Tanaka), Reflections on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident: Toward social-scientific literacy and engineering resilience (Heidelberg: Springer, forthcoming 2015).
"Weimar Culture and Quantum Mechanics" Co-Editor (with Alexei Kojevnikov and Helmuth Trischler), Weimar Culture and Quantum Mechanics: Selected Papers by Paul Forman and Contemporary Perspectives on the Forman Thesis (London: Imperial College Press, 2011).
"Heisenberg in the Atomic Age" Heisenberg in the Atomic Age: Science and the Public Sphere (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).
"Reappraising Oppenheimer" Co-Editor (with David A. Hollinger), Reappraising Oppenheimer: Centennial Studies and Reflections (Berkeley: Office for History of Science and Technology, 2005).

Selected Articles

Carson, Cathryn. "Knowledge economies: Research and war." Cambridge history of World War II, vol. III, Part A. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2015.

Carson, Cathryn. "Engineers, social scientists, and nuclear power: A narrative from within." In Reflections on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident: Toward social-scientific literacy and engineering resilience, ed. Joonhong Ahn, Cathryn Carson, Mikael Jensen, Kohta Juraku, Shinya Nagasaki, and Satoru Tanaka. Heidelberg: Springer, forthcoming 2015.

Sunderland, Mary E., Behnam Taebi, Cathryn Carson, and William Kastenberg. "Teaching global perspectives: Engineering ethics across international and academic borders." Journal of responsible innovation 2014,

Carson, Cathryn. Chapter in Blazing the trail: Essays by leading women in science, ed. Emma Ideal and Rhiannon Meharchand, 59-65. Irvine, CA: CreateSpace, 2013.

Carson, Cathryn. "Method, moment, and crisis in Weimar science." In Weimar thought: A critical history, ed. Peter E. Gordon and John P. McCormick, 179-199. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013.

Carson, Cathryn. "Modern or antimodern science? Weimar culture, natural science, and the Heidegger-Heisenberg exchange." In Weimar culture and quantum mechanics: Selected papers by Paul Forman and contemporary perspectives on the Forman Thesis, ed. Cathryn Carson, Alexei Kojevnikov, and Helmuth Trischler, 523-542. London: Imperial College Press, 2011.

Carson, Cathryn. "Science as instrumental reason: Heidegger, Habermas, Heisenberg." Continental Philosophy Review 42 (2010): 483-509.

Carson, Cathryn. "Beyond reconstruction: CERN's second generation accelerator program as an indicator of shifts in West German science." In Physics and politics: Research and research support in twentieth century Germany in international perspective, ed. Helmuth Trischler and Mark Walker, 107-130. Beiträge zur Geschichte der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft, v. 5. Stuttgart: Steiner, 2010.

Carson, Cathryn. "Science policy as Ordnungspolitik: Heisenberg as social and political theorist in the scientific-technical age." In Who is making science? Scientists as makers of technical-scientific structures and administrators of science policy, ed. Albert Presas i Puig, MPI Preprint 361, 35-44. Berlin: Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, 2008.

Carson, Cathryn. "The revolution in science." In A companion to Europe, 1900-1945, ed. Gordon Martel, 19-34. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006.

Carson, Cathryn. "Heisenberg als Wissenschaftsorganisator." In Werner Heisenberg 1901-1976: Beiträge, Berichte, Briefe — Festschrift zu seinem 100. Geburtstag, ed. Christian Kleint, Helmut Rechenberg, and Gerald Wiemers, 214-222. Stuttgart: S. Hirzel, 2005.

Carson, Cathryn. "Reflections on Copenhagen." In Michael Frayn's Copenhagen in debate: Historical essays and documents on the 1941 meeting between Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, ed. Matthias Dörries, 7-17. Berkeley: Office for History of Science and Technology, 2005.

Soo, Mary, and Cathryn Carson. "Managing the research university: Clark Kerr and the University of California." Minerva 42 (2004): 215-236.

Carson, Cathryn. "Objectivity and the scientist: Heisenberg rethinks." Science in context 16 (2003): 243-269.

Carson, Cathryn. "Bildung als Konsumgut: Physik in der westdeutschen Nachkriegskultur." In Physik im Nachkriegsdeutschland, ed. Dieter Hoffmann, 73-85. Frankfurt: Harri Deutsch, 2003.

Carson, Cathryn. "Nuclear energy development in postwar West Germany: Struggles over cooperation in the Federal Republic's first reactor station." History and technology 18 (2002): 233-270.

Carson, Cathryn, and Michael Gubser. "Science advising and science policy in postwar West Germany: The example of the Deutscher Forschungsrat." Minerva 40 (2002): 147-179.

Carson, Cathryn. "Heisenberg and the framework of science policy." Fortschritte der Physik 50 (2002): 432-436.

Carson, Cathryn. "Old programs, new politics? Nuclear reactor studies after 1945 in the Max-Planck-Institut für Physik." In Geschichte der Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft im Nationalsozialismus: Bestandaufnahme und Perspektiven der Forschung, ed. Doris Kaufmann, 726-749. Göttingen: Wallstein, 2000.

Carson, Cathryn. "The origins of the quantum theory." Beam line (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center) 30:2 (2000): 6-19.

Carson, Cathryn. "New models for science in politics: Heisenberg in West Germany." Historical studies in the physical and biological sciences30, no. 1 (1999): 115-171.

Carson, Cathryn. "The peculiar notion of exchange forces — I: Origins in quantum mechanics, 1926-1928." Studies in history and philosophy of modern physics 27 (1996): 23-45. "II: From nuclear forces to QED, 1929-1950." Studies in history and philosophy of modern physics 27 (1996): 99-131.

Carson, Cathryn. "Who wants a postmodern physics?Science in context 8 (1995): 635-655.

Faux, D.A. Faux, G. Gaynor, C.L. Carson, C.K. Hall, and J. Bernholc. “Computer simulation studies of the growth of strained layers by molecular-beam epitaxy.” Phys. Rev. B42 (1990): 2914-2922.

Carson, C.L., J. Bernholc, D. Faux, and C.K. Hall. “Efficient techniques for computer simulations of heteroepitaxial growth.” App. Phys. Lett. 56 (1990): 1971-1973.


Member of the Editorial Board, Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
Cathryn Carson


3221 Dwinelle Hall

Office Hours

Curriculum Vitae