Sophia Roosth

Assistant Professor in the History of Science


Sophia Roosth’s research focuses on the twentieth and twenty-first century life sciences. Her first book manuscript, based on four years of ethnographic fieldwork, examines how the life sciences are changing at a moment when researchers build new biological systems in order to investigate how biology works. In this work, Roosth asks what happens to “life” as a conceptual category when experimentation and fabrication converge. To answer this question, she tracks groups as diverse as synthetic biologists (bioengineers who build standardized genetic components), amateur biohackers who promote biological research in community labs, and molecular gastronomers (those who apply biochemical principles and techniques to cooking), among others. She draws upon anthropological accounts of craft and artisanship to analyze this recent turn to biological manufacture. This research piqued her interest in how non-visual senses (e.g., hearing, taste, and touch) figure in scientific research and knowledge production. For example, Roosth has written about sonocytologists who record cellular vibrations, exploring how listening to cells impacts how researchers understand biological processes.

Roosth joined the Department of the History of Science in 2011. She previously worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University (2010-2011). She received her doctorate in science studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2010.



"Life Not Itself: Inanimacy & the Limits of Biology," Grey Room 57, Fall 2014, pp. 56-81

"The Godfather, Part II. Review of Life at the Speed of Light by J. Craig Venter."  Science Vol. 342, No. 6156, (2013), pp. 312-313.

"Biobricks and Crocheted Coral: Dispatches from the Life Sciences in the Age of Fabrication" Science in Context Vol.26, March (2013), pp. 153-171.

"Of Foams and Formalisms: Scientific Expertise and Craft Practice in Molecular Gastronomy" American Anthropologist, Vol. 115, No. 1, (2013) pp. 4–16

"Evolutionary Yarns in Seahorse Valley: Living Tissues, Wooly Textiles, Theoretical Biologies" Differences, Volume 23, Number 3. (2012), pp. 9-41.

Life Forms: A Keyword Entry” With Stefan Helmreich, Representations vol. 112, no. 2 (2010): 27-53.

Screaming Yeast: Sonocytology, Cytoplasmic Milieus, and Cellular Subjectivities.Critical Inquiry vol. 35, no. 2 (2009): 332-350.



"Biological Time Travel," Harvard Magazine, March-April 2014