My longstanding research interests concern the ways literature reflects on and helps shape cultural transformations. I've written about the literature of slavery, the labor movement, capital cases, and modernization. I also conduct research into engineering education, especially for underrepresented populations, and the role of the humanities in public life.
WPI's trans-disciplinary and collaborative environment is exciting and inspiring to me, particularly our orientation toward social justice and the impacts of technology on the planet and its sentient inhabitants. My most recent research projects are collaborations with engineers and other humanists on engineering education. With David DiBiasio (chemical engineering), Zoe Reidinger (biomedical engineering), and Paula Quinn (Center for Project-Based Learning), I am involved in an NSF-funded study of the climate in engineering education for LGBTQ+ students. With students and colleagues I am developing role-playing games (RPGs) to teach engineering and science within a rich cultural context that attends to historical particulars. We call these RPGs "Humanitarian Engineering Past & Present." We now teach the first of these games, on 19th-century Worcester, MA, to WPI first-year students. The Liberal Education & Engineering Studies Division of ASEE awarded our paper, "The Theatre of Humanitarian Engineering," its best paper for ASEE 2017. Another RPG, on current-day rural Morocco, is in development.
I've taught a range of HUA literature and writing courses, Inquiry Seminars, and Great Problems Seminars, including "Feed the World," "Technology and the Developing World," and "Humanitarian Engineering Past & Present." Like most WPI faculty, I also advise IQPs on and off campus.