Caitlin D. Wylie

Assistant Professor: Science, Technology & Society

Caitlin Wylie
Caitlin D. Wylie applies ideas from social science, history, and philosophy to study how researchers, technicians, students, and other workers make specimens, images, data, and knowledge in research laboratories. This topic includes who works in laboratories and what they do, how people learn to conduct research, and how workers define skill, expertise, and social status. She focuses on science’s unwritten work and workers, such as technicians whose names and work are missing from publications, students and volunteers whose contributions to lab work are often overlooked, and the tacit, innovative, trial-and-error techniques and skills that workers rely on to generate “good” data.


email: wylie (at)
office: A231 Thornton Hall


Ph.D., Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, 2013
MPhil, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, 2009
A.B., History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, minor in Biological Sciences, University of Chicago, 2008

Research Areas

Laboratory studies, sociology of work, sociology of knowledge, on-the-job learning in scientific work, definitions of skill and expertise, qualitative research methods

Awards and Distinctions

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Historicizing Big Data Working Group, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, 2013
Raymond and Edith Williamson Studentship, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, 2009-2012
Clare Hall Bursary, Clare Hall College, University of Cambridge, 2009-2012
Viola K. Bower Merit Scholarship, University of Chicago, 2004-2008

Recent Courses

STS 4500: STS and Engineering Practice
STS 4600: The Engineer, Ethics, and Professional Responsibility

Selected Publications

Wylie, C. D. (2015) “The artist’s piece is already in the stone”: Constructing creativity in paleontology laboratories. Social Studies of Science, 45 (1), 31-55.

Wylie, C. D. (2012). Teaching nature study on the blackboard in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century England. Archives of Natural History, 39 (1), 59-76.

Wylie, C. D. (2012). Teaching manuals and the blackboard: Accessing historical classroom practices. History of Education, 41 (2), 257-272.

Wylie, C. D. (2010). Setting a standard for a “silent” disease: Defining osteoporosis in the 1980s and 1990s. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 41, 376-385.

Wylie, C. D. (2009). Preparation in action: Paleontological skill and the role of the fossil preparator. In M. A. Brown, J. F. Kane, and W. G. Parker (Eds.), Methods in Fossil Preparation: Proceedings of the First Annual Fossil Preparation and Collections Symposium (3-12).