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Bers Professor in H&SS: Ruth Cowan

Ruth Cowan

Dr. Ruth Schwartz Cowan, professor of the history and sociology of science, has recently been appointed to the Janice and Julian Bers Professorship in the History and Sociology of Science, SAS Dean Samuel H. Preston announced.

Dr. Cowan received her Ph.D. in the history of science at Johns Hopkins University in 1969. She took her masters in history from UC Berkeley in 1964 and her A.B. in zoology from Barnard College in 1961.

Her current research investigates the intersection between gender studies and the histories of modern science, technology, and medicine. A leader in her field, she chaired the National Academy of Science's U.S. National Committee for the International Union for the History and Philosophy of Science and was formerly president of the Society for the History of Technology, as well as a member of the Smithsonian Council.

Dr. Cowan has received a number of prizes and grants, including the Leonardo da Vinci Prize, the Dexter Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as recent grants from the Sloan Foundation, the NSF, and the NIH. In 1999, she traveled to Cyprus as a senior Fulbright scholar to research the prevention and treatment of thalassemia, a genetic blood disorder.

Before joining the faculty at Penn this fall, she was professor of history and chair of the Honors College at the State University of New York at Stony Brook where she had been on the faculty since 1967.

A prolific writer, Dr. Cowan has published in popular, professional, and academic journals, including Technology and Culture, Women's Studies, Isis, and The Washington Post. She is the author of five books, including A Social History of American Technology. She is currently at work on two manuscripts: Breaking the Mold: Women Engineers in the United States and Bad Genes, Good People: The History and Politics of Genetic Screening.

The Janice and Julian Bers Professorship in the History and Sociology of Science was created by Janice Smith Bers, who earned her B.A. in elementary education at Penn in 1939, and her husband, the late Julian S. Bers. Mr. Bers studied finance at the Wharton School and headed two major industrial ventures during his career, culminating as head of Imperial Metal and Chemical Company. An Emeritus Trustee of the University, Mr. Bers also served as a trustee of the Penn Health System. In 1968, he was honored with the Alumni Award of Merit.


  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 10, October 29, 2002