WPI Professor is Newest History of Science Society Vice President

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WORCESTER, Mass. - Michael M. Sokal of Worcester, a professor of history at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, was recently elected vice president of the History of Science Society. With a membership of over 3,700 individuals and institutions around the globe, the HSS is the world's oldest and largest organization dedicated to understanding science, technology and medicine and their interactions with society in a historical context. Through its publications and other activities the society provides scholars, decision-makers and the public with historical perspectives on science policy and the potential achievements and limitations of basic and applied science.

In 1988, Sokal became the society's first executive secretary. During his five-year tenure in that post, the HSS executive office was located at WPI and the society's programs were greatly expanded. He will serve the HSS as vice president in 2002 and 2003 and as president in 2004 and 2005. "In many ways, my election exemplifies how WPI has evolved during the past two or three decades," says Sokal. "Through the efforts of all segments of the WPI community, its students and professors now play a greater role than ever before in the scientific and scholarly life of the nation and the world. I'm pleased and proud to be part of this trend and, as HSS vice president and president, I hope to introduce many to all that WPI does so uniquely and so well."

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Sokal graduated from Stuyvesant High School and holds a B.E. in electrical engineering from The Cooper Union and an M.A. and Ph.D. in the history of science and technology from Case Western Reserve University. A faculty member since 1970, he is one of three authors of The Establishment of Science in America, which focuses on 150 years of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is the editor of History of Psychology, a quarterly journal of the American Psychological Association. From 1998 through 2000 he was program director for science and technology studies at the National Science Foundation, where he oversaw all NSF grant-making for research and training in history, philosophy and social studies of science and technology.

Founded in 1865, WPI was a pioneer in technological higher education. Early on, it developed an influential curriculum that balanced theory and practice. Since 1970, that philosophy has been embodied in an innovative outcomes-oriented undergraduate program. With a network of project centers that spans the globe, the university is also the leader in globalizing technological education.