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Research Grants


The Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology Resident Scholar Program, supported by The Dibner Fund, awards stipends of $3,000.00 per month for up to six months for individuals working on a topic relating to the history of science and technology who can make substantial use of collections in the Dibner Library.

Due to the closure of the National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center for extensive renovations, we regret that the Dibner Library Resident Scholar Program will be suspended in 2008. The Program will resume in 2009.

For more information on the program, please click here.


Dibner Library Resident Scholars 2006

DR. REBEKAH FRANCES HIGGITT is currently an Academic Visitor/Teaching Assistant in the Centre for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine at Imperial College London. She received her Ph.D. in 2004 from the Centre with her thesis, "The Apple of Their Eye? Biographies of Isaac Newton, 1820-70." She hopes to expand on her thesis with her project at the Dibner Library, "Writing and Using the History of Science in 19th-Century Britain." As she notes in her proposal, "the middle decades of the 19th century are particularly important [for publication of histories of science] because of the evolving role of the man of science within wider society, the nascent professionalisation, specialisation and secularisation of science, and the development of a new expertise in the field of history of science." She plans to survey the historical literature in the Dibner Library to tease out the many aspects of this literary area in order gain some understanding into the concept of men of science as historians of science. This may help her understand the importance of such factors as the idealization of science, the intended audiences, the meaning of the term "scientist," the portrayal of scientific disciplines, the social and religious commitments of the authors, and their methodological and stylistic similarities in how scientists produced histories of science in the 19th century. At the Dibner Library, Dr. Higgitt plans to examine the many histories of science we have in addition to our many encyclopedias and biographies of scientists from the 1800s.

DR. EDWARD JURKOWITZ is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has a good publication record and his book, Liberal Pursuits: Hermann von Helmholtz, Ernst Mach and the framing of physics and the human mind has been reviewed and accepted by Kluwer Academic Publishers. He received his Ph.D. in History of Science from the University of Toronto in 1995 with his dissertation, "Interpreting Superconductivity: The History of Quantum Theory and the Theory of Superconductivity and Superfluidity, 1933-1957." His project at the Dibner Library, "Physiological Psychology, the Signaling Model, and Inner Relativity (1860-1905)," is an outgrowth of his research on his upcoming book. This new project is based on the notion that the basic post-Einsteinian concepts of relativity of signals to a particular observer were explicitly examined or foreshadowed by a subgroup of physically trained physiological psychologists such as Hermann Helmholtz, Hermann Aubert, Rudolf Koenig, Arthur Koenig, Wilhelm Wundt, Adolf Fick, Gustav Fechner, and Ernst Mach, among others. These researchers studied how humans received sound and light signals and how these were transmitted through the body, in much the same way that physical scientists and electrical engineers studied the transmission of signals in telegraphic, optical, and acoustical systems. In addition, there was a close connection between the researchers in these two different areas, and Dr. Jurkowitz hopes to be able to better illuminate how this physiological research informed the development of physical relativity. At the Dibner Library he will use the monographs and articles written by the researchers mentioned above as well as most of our extensive collection of 19th- and very early 20th-century works on physiological optics, physical acoustics, and telegraphy. He would also be able to study many of the instruments housed in the National Museum of American History's collections.

DR. CLIFFORD SCHEXNAYDER is Eminent Scholar Emeritus at the Del E. Webb School of Construction at Arizona State University. He has an extensive career as a civil engineer and a long list of publications, including numerous works on the history of civil engineering. The committee was particularly impressed with his ability to author general-interest books on civil engineering and its history. He received his Ph.D. in Construction Engineering and Management from Purdue University in 1980 and has spent most of his career at Louisiana Tech, the U.S. Army Engineering School, and Arizona State University. He is described as the world's leading authority on construction equipment and he has authored the most widely used text in the field. His research project at the Dibner Library, "The Hoosac Tunnel-Birthplace of Modern Tunneling," will utilize his expertise in civil engineering and its history. The Hoosac Tunnel (25,000 feet long) in Massachusetts was the longest tunnel in North America from its completion in 1873 until 1916 when it was surpassed. It took twenty-two years to complete and workers used virtually every kind of device available to bore through the rock, many developed just for this tunnel, and nitroglycerin was first used to blast the Hoosac Tunnel. It is an excellent project to use to trace the historical development of tunneling practice. Dr. Schexnayder will use the primary materials in the Dibner Library relating to the building of the Hoosac Tunnel as well as other contemporary works that describe tunneling practice in Europe.

DR. ARISTOTELIS TYMPAS is Lecturer on the History of Technology at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Athens, Greece. He received his Ph.D. in 2001 from the History, Technology, and Society Department at the Georgia Institute of Technology with his dissertation, "The Computor and the Analyst: Computing and Power, 1880s-1960s." His research project at the Dibner Library, "On the Industrial-Information Revolution Relationship: Towards a History of Steam Engine Calculations," is an extension of his dissertation work on the importance of computing techniques during the heyday of electrification (1880-1930). He hopes to extend his argument back earlier than 1880 by studying the importance of the calculating process in constructing and employing steam engines. Devices such as planimeters and other early forms of slide rules were used for steam engine calculations and Dr. Tympas plans to study the development, availability, and use of these devices to further inform our understanding of the importance of computing and instruments in the history of steam engines in particular and technology in general. He plans to use the Dibner Library's many works on steam engines as well as the numerous general encyclopedia articles and works about instruments.

Learn about our previous Dibner Library Resident Scholars.