Ruth Schwartz Cowan

Ruth Schwartz Cowan headshot TO USE
Born in 1941 in Brooklyn, New York, Ruth Schwartz Cowan attended the public schools there, graduating from Midwood High School. Subsequently, she earned a BA in zoology from Barnard College, an MA in history from the University of California at Berkeley, and a PhD in the history of science from Johns Hopkins University.

Specializing in the history of science, technology and medicine, Cowan taught in the history department at SUNY Stony Brook from 1967 to 2002, becoming a Professor in 1984; she also served as Director of Women’s Studies (1985-1990) and Chair of the Honors College (1997-2002). In 2002 she became Janice and Julian Bers Professor of the History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania, where she also served as department chair from 2003-2008, and 2011-2012. Since 2012 she has been Professor Emerita at the University of Pennsylvania.

Cowan’s books include
More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave, which won the Dexter Prize from the Society for the History of Technology in 1984, Heredity and Hope: The Case for Genetic Screening and A Social History of American Technology. Cowan has been awarded the Leonardo daVinci Prize for lifetime achievement from the Society for the History of Technology in 1997 and the John Desmond Bernal Prize for her contributions to the field of Science and Technology Studies in 2008. Cowan was President of the Society for the History of Technology (1992-1994) and was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2014.

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