Graduate Student Interests


Admitted Fall 2016:

Caitlin Beasley had dreams of becoming a physician before deciding to meld her interests in the medical field with similar ones in history.  She earned her BA in History from the University of Arkansas, where she completed her Honors Thesis titled, "The Medical Marketing of Eureka Springs, Arkansas." In it she explores the changing socio-medical environment in a small mid-western boomtown at the end of the nineteenth century whose main draw was its magnificent healing waters. She was admitted to the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine program at OU, where she hopes to continue to delve into the historical dynamics of the doctor-patient relationship and how scientific advancements in the field of medicine have altered it. Upon obtaining her master’s degree, she plans on pursuing her PhD and becoming a college professor.

Emily Griffin earned her BS in mathematics and English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  She spent the majority of her undergraduate career focused on the development of the British novel during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  It was that work which led her to Edwin Abbott’s Flatland, and an eventual undergraduate thesis focused on the progression of geometry education in nineteenth-century Great Britain and its intersection with the Church of England.  She hopes to continue to explore the history of mathematics, possibly delving into the wonderful world of algebra, her first mathematical passion.  Outside of her academic interests, Emily enjoys playing the piano and is also an avid runner.

Bill Munsell attended the New York School of Visual Arts as a fine art major before earning his BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Oklahoma. He joins our program with a career as a forensic engineer specializing in design and failure analysis. Having repeatedly witnessed the tragic consequences when design engineers fail to incorporate basic safety concepts into their plans, Bill would like to explore the history of safe design principles and practices as they have arisen and evolved in the United States and other countries. He is also interested in the transformation of technologies and the role of the engineer through the crucible of the war years 1914-1945. Personally, Bill continues to paint, cook, and race sports cars. Long-term, Bill plans to publish his findings and work as an educator to see that safety knowledge is incorporated into engineering curricula both at the University of Oklahoma and engineering programs elsewhere. 

Jonathon Self is a self-admitted book nerd who loves to read about science, technology, and socioeconomics.  After completing his BA in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine from the University of Oklahoma, he gained admittance to the dual-degree MA program for the history of science and library and information studies at OU and hopes to continue his metabiographical and bibliographic studies of Charles Darwin’s biographies that he conducted for his undergraduate capstone.  More generally, Jonathon’s research interests include mediums and technologies that communicate and popularize science, as well as how those mediums affect the perception of science's practitioners.  In his spare time, Jonathon enjoys walking, spending time with his wife and daughter, and reading.

Aja Tolman completed a BA in History at Brigham Young University and an MA in History at Utah State University.  Her focus was primarily the history of geology and empire, especially the British Raj in India.  She has worked on the Geological Survey of India and private Indian enterprises, and researched how Indian geologists used the science to make India more economically self-sufficient and globally competitive.  She is also interested in paleontology, volcanology, and plate tectonics theory.  Aja plans to become a professor of the history of science.  In addition, she enjoys traveling, reading, music, and baking.

Paul Kelley Vieth received his Bachelor's degrees from the University of Oklahoma in International Security Studies with an emphasis on China (2013) and History with a minor in the History of Science (2015).  In between he founded an English language school in Langfang, Hebei, China.  His interests include alternatives in sustainable agriculture, its methodologies, and their pre-industrial origins; digital humanities and data visualization; and the democratization of information production and consumption.

Master’s Candidates:

 Kraig Bartel completed a BA in History at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.  He is currently finishing an MA in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine here at OU and plans to complete his thesis in fall of 2016.  Kraig is interested in how knowledge is generated and established over time and space; how knowledge is continually socially and culturally conceptualized.  His current research examines a 1623 manuscript held by the History of Science Collections at the University of Oklahoma.  This manuscript was a set of student notes from an introductory astronomy course taught at the Collegio Romano by Orazio Grassi, a Jesuit who engaged in a debate with Galileo over a series of comets observed in 1618.  As a set of student notes recorded at a premier educational institution in Europe, this 1623 manuscript serves as a primary source for how observational evidence was incorporated into astronomical knowledge, a process that involved much negotiation and vetting by expert witnesses, many of whom were teachers at the Collegio Romano along with Grassi.  After Kraig defends his master's thesis he plans to get a PhD in the History of Science and expand on his current research to study the controversy over the comets and the role of the Collegio Romano and its scholars in establishing the validity of observational evidence in astronomy after the invention of the telescope.

Cassondra Darling earned a BS in Mathematics from Southeastern Oklahoma State University (SOSU).  After graduation, she spent many years extolling the beauty of mathematics to high school students.  A favorite assignment was having her geometry students read Edwin Abbott Abbott’s, Flatland.  In 2014, she started working on a master’s degree in library and information science with the goal of being a special collections librarian.  During her second semester she learned about the option of working on a dual degree with library and information science and history of science.  She was accepted into the history of science program in the spring of 2015.  Inspired by her work with Flatland, she is interested in investigating the connections between 19th-century spiritualism and mathematics.  Cassondra is currently serving as a graduate assistant in the Bizzell Library Special Collections, where she is often found wondering the stacks dreaming of the mathematical manuscript and print collection she will one day gleefully rule over with the laws of Ranganathan.

Matt Maupin completed his BS at the U.S. Naval Academy and afterward served as an officer in the Navy, which included sea tours as Navigator and Chief Engineer.  He completed deployments to the Persian Gulf, North Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Southeast Asia, and the Western Pacific Ocean.  When not studying or otherwise reading, he enjoys listening to (and badly playing) old person music.  Above all, he immensely enjoys spending time with his two boys ages nine and eleven.  Matt’s research interests include investigating the coproduction of natural, cosmological, and technological knowledge amongst Euro-Americans and the Choctaw prior to their removal from Mississippi in the early 19th century.


Preparing for General Exams:

James Burnes has traveled from Mayan ball courts in Belize and the fossil filled deserts of Utah to the TEDxOU stage absorbing and sharing the knowledge of field expeditions and collecting. Passionate about community outreach, he maintains his own traveling fossil exhibition called the Paleo Porch Mini Mobile Museum which he takes to school classrooms, homeschools, libraries, universities, and even city parks in order to engage people who may not have the opportunity to visit a museum.  By combining the history of science with the history of objects as well as personal experience in archaeology and paleontology, the exhibits reveal a dynamic relationship between the sciences and the humanities and have allowed him to live up to his museum’s tagline: “Have Bones Will Travel.”  Museum updates, paleo news, and PhD progress can be followed at  He also tweets about cartoons more than he should @Lifethrutime.  Currently, James is the exhibits technician and docent manager for the History of Science Collections where he oversees the galleries and provides unique exhibit experience for the public and visiting researchers.  His responsibilities include preparing displays and training exhibit docents to facilitate individual or group/class tours, beginning with the current Galileo's World exhibit (  On the content and interpretive side of the exhibits, James served as co-curator for the exhibits at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History and at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.

Nathan Kapoor completed a B.S. in History and secondary education licensure at Tennessee Technological University and completed his M. A. in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine at the University of Oklahoma.  In addition to history, Nathan has studied jazz and was the first-chair percussionist in the school's jazz ensemble for three years, and he has continued with the University of Oklahoma Chamber Jazz Ensemble.  He has done some museum internships and worked on history of science exhibits, such as assisting the chairman of the André Michaux International Society with the development of an exhibit.  His master’s thesis critiqued the historiography of electrical generation technologies and argued for a greater inclusion of wind power in the history of early electrification.  Currently, Nathan is preparing for his field exams in: energy and electricity, technology and empire, and engineering and ethics.  He is also set to complete a Graduate Certificate in Women and Gender Studies for his final field.  Early dissertation work is focused on the electrification of New Zealand, specifically the relationship between the colonial administration and electrical technologies.

Read more about Nathan's research at

Younes Mahdavi completed his BS in Mathematics at Shahid Beheshti University (Tehran) and then earned his MA in the History of Science at the University of Tehran. His MA research focused on mathematics and astronomy in medieval Islam. In his master’s thesis he explored the application of spherical trigonometry in astronomy from the tenth to the thirteenth centuries, with a focus on new techniques developed by Islamic and Iranian mathematicians that replaced the techniques of Ptolemy’s Almagest. In spring 2015, Younes, enrolled in the University of Oklahoma’s PhD program in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine. He is interested in the cross-cultural transmission of science between the Islamic world and the Latin West during the middle ages and early modern period.  For his dissertation project, he is working on the intellectual history of Safavid Iran, which dates back to the early modern period (16th and 17th centuries), focusing on astronomy and mathematical sciences.

Ashley Nicole McCray is Oglala & Sicangu Lakota and an enrolled member of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma [Mekoche & Kispoko division - Big Jim Band - Horse (Deer) clan].  She is a mother, land defender, and a PhD student at the University of Oklahoma, where she is one of the first in her program to specialize in indigenous knowledge in the history of science, technology and medicine program.  She received her BA in Psychology from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2010, an MA in History from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2012, and an MA in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine from the University of Oklahoma in 2014.

She founded the group Indigenize OU, which was responsible for successfully petitioning the University of Oklahoma to recognize the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples Day in fall 2015, working with the Vice President of Diversity Jabar Shumate to develop and implement a Bias Incident Reporting system for OU, and educating the community about the true history behind the “Sooner” name and the effects of colonization.

Ashley was part of Idle No More Central OK, a member of #ipdOKC, the group who fought to bring Indigenous Peoples Day to OKC, a founding member and leader in the group Live Indigenous OK, a part of the group fighting to end the 89er Day Parade in Norman, a founding member of Unsettling Oklahoma, and a founder of #NoPlainsPipeline, which is currently fighting to stop the Plains All American Pipeline from completing their Red River II Project, which will cut through sacred tribal lands.  She is currently working with fellow #NoPlainsPipeline founder and Absentee Shawnee tribal member Alecia Onzahwah and their tribe to educate their community about environmental racism, fracking, pipelines, water and land rights, and sovereignty.

Ashley was one of eleven women selected by the White House out of over 1000 nominations nationwide as a 2015 WHO Champion of Change for Young Women Empowering Their Communities.  The same year, she was selected from among organizers nationwide to attend both years of the 2-year plot program for the Gloria Steinem & Wilma Mankiller School for Organizers.  Ashley was the 2015 recipient of the Norman Human Rights Commission and Norman City Council's Human Rights Award for her work in indigenous, a CoreAlign Speaking Race to Power Fellow, a nominee for Oklahoma's ACLU board of directors, and archivist/historian for the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma.

This summer, Ashley attended the second convening of the Gloria & Wilma School for Organizers, visited her Shawnee homelands with tribal elders, and participated in the Protect Our Public Lands Act (POPLA) Tour caravan to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she and other indigenous land defenders participated in a documentary filmed by PaperRocket Productions.  The documentary was based around the Clean Energy March leading up to the Democratic Convention.  If passed, POPLA will ban fracking on all public lands nationwide.  While in Philadelphia, Ashley spoke on the opening plenary of the Clean Energy Summit as well as a panel with the caravan.

Jackson Pope completed his BA in history at Montana State University. While there he worked as a volunteer with The Extreme History Project helping to transcribe oral histories of reservation life from Crow tribal elders as part of the Fort Parker Oral History Project. After graduation he decided to pursue his interests in the history of science and spent a year in independent research in preparation for graduate school. He is particularly interested in the history of amateur science and the relationships between scientists and amateurs. In his master’s thesis, Jackson examined the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology as a space where professional ornithologists and amateur bird watchers interacted as part of a larger community of bird watching. He used this analysis as a means to dismantle narratives of professionalization that separate scientists and the public. Jackson is currently researching recordings made from the 1930s-1960s by Arthur A. Allen, Albert R. Brand, and Peter Paul Kellogg of Cornell University. Their work, along with their interactions with a network of amateur bird song recorders in the 1950s-60s, created the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s famous Library of Natural Sounds, now the largest repository of animal recordings in the world. In conjunction  with this research, he was awarded a 2016 George Miksch Sutton Scholarship from the OU Department of Biology to create a digital online archive of bird song records with assistance from the Fine Arts Library, the Digitization Laboratory, the Department of Biology, and the Digital Scholarship Lab. The archive will be available to researchers through ShareOK, and at other sites as it is developed. In his free time, Jackson states he is far too fond of Lovecraft, terrible sci-fi movies, photography, and carnivorous plants.

To learn more about Jackson's project, visit his blog Parliament of Owls, or check out his YouTube channel Jackson Pope

Brent Purkaple completed a BA in Greek and Hebrew with a minor in History in 2007 from Oklahoma Baptist University, and then completed an MA at Wheaton College in Biblical Exegesis in 2009. In spring 2015 he completed his MA in the History of Science at OU. His master’s thesis, titled, “Making Sense of Mathematics: The Certitudine Mathematicarum Debate and its Relationship to Plato and Aristotle,” explored the ontology of mathematics in a sixteenth-century Italian debate. He plans to continue looking into the development of science within the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries for his dissertation. Brent works as a graduate research assistant in the History of Science Collections, and as such has been working to strengthen K-12 education outreach for the Collections as well as to help launch the exhibition, Galileo’s World. In his free time he enjoys running, exploring the outdoors, and fiddling with his violin.

Read more about Brent's research at

 Anna Reser has a BFA in studio art and an MA in history of science.  She is currently pursuing a PhD and writing a dissertation about design culture and the built environment in the American space program.  Her other writing and research interests include popular culture, critical and literary theory, art history, and women and gender studies.  She is a painter, sculptor, and printmaker with a focus on the aesthetics of technology and information.  She is the co-editor of the monthly magazine Lady Science [].

Read more about Anna's interests at

Doctoral Candidates:

  Margaret Gaida completed a BA in physics and philosophy at Duke University, an MA in philosophy at the University of California at San Diego, and an MA in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine here at OU. She is currently completing her sixth year in the History of Science graduate program and plans to complete her dissertation in spring 2017. Her research focuses on the transmission, appropriation, and circulation of scientific knowledge across cultural boundaries in the Mediterranean during the Medieval and Early Modern periods. Her dissertation follows the historical trajectory of a single text, Alcabitius' Introduction to Astrology, from its composition in Arabic in tenth-century Aleppo, to its translation into Latin and subsequent readership in medieval and Renaissance Europe, and finally to its transformation from manuscript to print in late fifteenth-century Venice. From this textual biography, the project develops a culturally-sensitive and situated account of the transmission of astrological knowledge from the Islamic world into the Latin West. A close study of a selection of the Introduction and its surviving manuscripts, commentaries, and printed versions reveals a diverse group of medieval readers. Studying these readers and their contexts reveals how astrology took shape in Europe by assimilating and adapting Islamic ideas. Margaret received the Lily Auchincloss Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize in April 2014, which supported her research during 2014-2015 at the American Academy in Rome; and, she was named a 2014 Mediterranean Regional Research Fellow by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC), which funded a research trip to Istanbul, Turkey, in fall 2015. She has received a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship in support of her final year of dissertation work.  Margaret is also interested in the history of women in science and biographies of women scientists, and she completed a graduate certificate in Women's and Gender Studies at OU. Margaret blogs about these interests at  In her (limited) spare time, Margaret loves spending time with her family, travelling, being in nature, and olive oil.

Kirsty Gaither is currently preparing for her exams and researching for her dissertation. After looking at the public spaces of learning in 17th-century England in her master's thesis, she has continued to research public and everyday access to scientific knowledge in non-academic settings. Her dissertation looks at scientific, technological, and medical knowledge present in 18th-century British kitchens, kitchen practices, and recipe books. She is also working on incorporating a digital humanities component into her dissertation.

Personally, she describes herself as a worldwide traveler and adventurer, having grown up in various countries. She is an avid fan of science fiction and all things Marvel. She devotes most of her free time to kickboxing, her two dogs, and working out with her husband.

 Petar Markovski, originally from Southeast Michigan, came to Oklahoma by the way of Michigan State University, where he received a BS in Astrophysics from the Lyman Briggs School.  In the fall of 2007, he began the master’s program in the history of science at the University of Oklahoma, and in the summer of 2009, he successfully defended his master’s thesis, titled “A Comparative History of Hipparcos and FAME: Space Astrometry in the 20th Century.”  Currently, Petar is in the writing stages of his dissertation, titled “Exploring Collaboration in the Space Age: A History of Transnational Space Science and Technology Networks at NASA and ESA.”  He hopes to finish sometime in the spring of 2014.  Petar is also the recipient of the 2013-2014 HSS/NASA Fellowship in the History of Space Science, which will provide support for the completion of his dissertation.  Petar’s research interests are broadly construed as including the history of technology, the history of modern astronomy, the history of the space age and modern Europe.  His past research projects have included an historical examination of attempts by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop and launch astrometric observing satellites.  This work, situated at the intersection of space science and technology, detailed the emergence of space astrometry and more importantly, explored success and failure narratives in the history of technology.  Petar’s current doctoral research focuses on the international and transnational dimensions of cooperation between NASA and the ESA.  In his spare time, Petar likes to unwind and catch a movie.  He is particularly fond of quirky and weird sci-fi and horror movies (especially from the 1970s - early 1990s).  Also, as an avid gamer for most of his life, Petar likes to enjoy a game or two of the digital, board and card variety.

 Amy Rodgers graduated from OU with a BS in astronomy and a minor in the history of science in 2009.  She undertook the dual degree program, pursuing both the MA in history of science and the MLIS, which she successfully completed in fall 2012.  Her master’s thesis was entitled, “Blood, Books, and Bile: Ancient Greek Humoralism in Louisa May Alcott's 1868 Novel, Little Women”.  In her PhD dissertation, Amy furthers the research she began in her master’s work, locating medical theories of disease in popular culture.  She currently runs an editing business, ASR Editing.  After completing the PhD she plans to continue editing while working as a special collections librarian.

 Carolyn Scearce
completed a BA at the University of Maryland in English literature and a BS in biological sciences followed by an MS in oceanography at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, UC-San Diego. After completing her degrees, Carolyn worked as an aquatic science database editor before entering the program in the history of science at OU. In spring 2013, she successfully defended her master’s thesis: “John Gray and Albert Gunther are Dead: Zoology at the British Museum During the Darwinian Era.” While preparing for her general exams, Carolyn is studying the history of the life sciences, with particular emphasis on biogeography, exploration, natural history collections, and ichthyology.


Blair Stein holds a Bachelor of Journalism (2010) from Carleton University, a MA in History (2011) from Queen's University, and a MA in HSCI from OU (2014).  Her MA research from both schools focused on Trans Canada Air Lines (now Air Canada).  At OU, she examined how the special relationship Canadians have historically believed themselves to have with cold weather was used as a rhetorical tool in the development and advertising of TCA's first pressurized airliner in the late 1940s.  Her dissertation expands this further, examining how Canadian climatic identity has been expressed through aviation discourse during the first three-quarters of the twentieth century and exploring what this says about the modern experience of technology, environment, and nation.  Blair is currently a regular featured blogger for the Network in Canadian History and the Environment (NiCHE) blog, The Otter.  When she's not talking about cold-weather Canadian airplanes, Blair can be found riding her bicycle, watching reality television, and dreaming about real maple syrup. 

Royline Williams-Fontenelle received her BA in sociology/criminology at OU in 2009 and joined the history of science graduate program in fall 2010 as a McNair Graduate Fellow.  Royline is interested in West Indian history.  Her dissertation explores the various ways in which Black Nature has been thought of as an embodied quality. By reviewing how medical practioners on the slave plantation put conceptual tools about human nature and blackness to use when proferring claims about the phenomena of black corporeality, she seeks to explain how Black Nature is an abstraction made real by the intentions of those using it to prove purported medical  and cultural truths. In addition, she searchers for evidence of this not only in the annals of those very doctors who treated the enslaved in the United States and the Caribbean but within practices associated with medicine and religion employed by the enslaved to suggest that, all along, a counter argument about Black Nature was being had.