WPI's Sokal New President of History of Science Society

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass. - Michael M. Sokal, professor of history at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), has assumed the position of president of the History of Science Society - the world's largest society dedicated to understanding science, technology, medicine, and their interactions with society in historical context. Sokal was elected to the leadership of the society in 2001, and he will serve a two-year term through the end of 2005.

Sokal has been a member of the History of Science Society (HSS) since 1969, serving in numerous positions, including vice president in 2002 and 2003. He was the society's first executive secretary, from 1988 to 1992. During his five-year tenure in that post, the HSS executive office was located at WPI and the society's programs were greatly expanded.

As president of HSS, Sokal is focusing on two key initiatives. The first is building bridges to a large number of constituencies such as working scientists, educational leaders, government policy makers and the general public. The second is to secure the long-term future of the society's Current Bibliography, which indexes new work in the history of science at the end of each year, via expanding its endowment.

"Michael is the epitome of the well-rounded individual we so value at Worcester Polytechnic Institute - someone fluent in the ways of science, engineering and technology as well as the humanities and arts," says John F. Carney III, WPI provost and vice president for academic affairs. "The impact of his thirty-plus-year career on the WPI campus and his profession has been profound."

Sokal joined the WPI faculty in 1970, and has taught and conducted research in the areas of the history of American science and technology, and the history of psychology. He also oversees student academic projects in the history of science and technology. He has received numerous honors for his contributions to WPI, including the Trustees' Award for Outstanding Creative Scholarship in 1988, and the Paris Fletcher Distinguished Professor in the Humanities from 1993 to 1995.

From 1998 through 2000, Sokal took a leave from WPI to serve as program director for science and technology studies at the National Science Foundation. In this position he oversaw all NSF grant-making for research and training in history, philosophy and social studies of science and technology.

Sokal's numerous other professional activities include serving as 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 the editor of History of Psychology, a scholarly journal published quarterly by the American Psychological Association for the Society for the History of Psychology. He also is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and is a member of the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society.

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Sokal graduated from Stuyvesant High School and holds a B.E. in electrical engineering from The Cooper Union, in addition to an M.A. and a Ph.D. in the history of science and technology from Case Western Reserve University.

About the History of Science Society

The History of Science Society was founded in 1924, initially to ensure the survival of Isis, the premier international journal dedicated to the history of science. Today, the organization has grown to more than 3,000 individual and institutional members across the world who support the society's mission to foster interest in the history of science and its social and cultural relations. The society publishes Isis, Current Bibliography, and Osiris, an annual publication that focuses on a single theme, bringing together original articles to address emergent research in the history of science and its cultural influences.

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865, WPI is a pioneer in technological higher education. WPI was the first university to understand that students learn best when they have the opportunity to apply the knowledge they gain in the classroom to the solution of important problems. Today its students, working in teams at more than 20 project centers around the globe, put their knowledge and skills to work as they complete professional-level work that can have an immediate positive impact on society.

WPI's innovative, globally focused curriculum has been recognized by leaders in industry, government and academia as the model for the technological education of tomorrow. Students emerge from this program as true technological humanists, well rounded, with the confidence, the interpersonal skills and the commitment to innovation they need to make a real difference in their professional and personal lives.

The university awarded its first advanced degree in 1898. Today, its first-rate research laboratories support master's and Ph.D. programs in more than 30 disciplines in engineering, science and the management of technology. Located in the heart of the region's biotechnology and high-technology sectors, WPI has built research programs-including the largest industry/university alliance in North America-that have won it worldwide recognition.