Tuesday, November 14, 2023 - 7:30pm - 9:00pm
Colton Chapel
Dr. Janet Vertesi

Why Organizations Matter – in Space and on Earth

When we think of organizations, we often think of bureaucracy, managers, or “personalities” that get in the way of our engineering and science. Janet Vertesi, Associate Professor of Sociology at Princeton University, looks at two NASA missions to show how the way each team divided up their work influenced the scientists’ and engineers’ communication, interaction, and collaboration. Dubbed “Margaret Mead among the Starfleet” in the Times Literary Supplement, Dr. Vertesi shows how choices in organizational structure and culture have long-lasting impacts in terms of collaboration, science, as well as how we relate to our technologies--and to each other with significant implications as we consider how best to work together to support collective goals.


Dr. Vertesi has spent fifteen years studying NASA’s robotic spacecraft teams as a sociologist of science and technology. Her studies have been published in books like Seeing Like a Rover and Shaping Science (University of Chicago Press), in edited collections digitalSTS (Princeton Press) and Representation in Scientific Practice (MIT Press), and in top ranked journals and conference in the fields of the sociology of science and technology, and human-computer and human-robot interaction.


The Resnik Memorial Lecture is named in honor of Astronaut Judith A. Resnik, an electrical engineer who lost her life in the Challenger space shuttle disaster on January 28, 1986.

Sponsored by: 
John and Muriel Landis Fund, Farber Memorial Endowment Fund, Engineering Division and the Hanson Center for Inclusive STEM Education

Contact information

Lisa Karam