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STS at Virginia Tech
Science and Technology Studies offers MS and PhD programs in Blacksburg and Northern Virginia
Science and Technology Studies offers MS and PhD programs in Blacksburg and Northern Virginia


STS PhD Mentoring Session, Dec. 5

Please join us for our second PhD Mentoring Session next Monday, December 5 in room T3 at the Northern Virginia Center (NVC), 7054 Haycock Road, Falls Church. We'll start with an informal reception (6:30-7:00pm), followed by a presentation from 7-8pm by Dr. Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley, a professor in the Biodefense Program at the George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government. Her talk is titled, “Assessing Bioweapons Threats: A New Analytical Framework.”

In the mentoring part of the program from 8-9:30 the topic will be "Conferences & writing paper proposals." This topic was requested by a number of students and will provide timely advice for those of you considering proposals for STGlobal or the 4S conference. Writing paper proposals is a general-purpose skill that can also be used for class papers or dissertation pre-proposals. Please come with your questions and/or draft conference abstracts.

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Please join us, in person or online, for a conversation with Dr. Edward Geist on "Armageddon Insurance: Civil Defense in the United States and Soviet Union, 1945-1991," on Thursday, September 22, 2016, at 12:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. RSVP requested at

Abstract: This talk is part of the first historical study of the postwar Soviet civil defense program, as well as an innovative comparative account of American and Soviet civil defense. The study offers a comparative institutional history of the superpowers' civil defense drawing on previously unexamined Soviet and American archival sources. Grounding the programs in their respective political and cultural contexts, it offers findings that challenge common assumptions about the logic driving the two nations’ potentially apocalyptic nuclear flirtation, such as that that a mutual recognition that nuclear war would be suicidal prevented the leaders of the two superpowers from embracing civil defense. In actuality, Moscow and Washington developed their civil defense policies in accordance with domestic political concerns, sometimes in direct contradiction to their declared strategic doctrines or military planning. The strange history of Cold War civil defense shows that the superpowers made their nuclear weapons policies not on the basis of rational strategic or technical considerations, but as the result of power struggles between different institutions pursuing their own narrow self-interests, with results that imperiled the survival of civilization itself.

​About the speaker: Dr. Edward Geist is an Associate Policy Researcher at the RAND Corporation. Previously a MacArthur Nuclear Security Fellow at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation, received his Ph.D. in Soviet history from the University of North Carolina in May 2013. His research interests include emergency management in nuclear disasters, Soviet politics and culture, and the history of nuclear power and weapons. A recipient of fellowships from Fulbright-Hays and American Councils to conduct research in Moscow and Kyiv, he has published articles in the Journal of Cold War Studies, Russian Review, Slavic Review, and the Bulletin of the History of Medicine.

About this seminar: This lecture continues a successful new speaker series, SIREN (Seminar on Interdisciplinary Research and Education in Nuclear Emergency Response), which features leading international experts on nuclear emergency response. The series is part of an NSF CAREER grant (PI Sonja Schmid) and is hosted by Virginia Tech’s Department of Science and Technology in Society, with generous support from the Office of the Vice President for the National Capital Region. The talks take place once a month at the Virginia Tech Research Center in Arlington, VA (metro Ballston). Light refreshments will be served. The events are free and open to the public, but RSVP is requested. If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Sonja Schmid at 703-538-8482 or email during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to the event. Graduate students are encouraged to arrive at 12:00am to chat with the speaker.

A live webcast will be available at

Please plan to attend, and help spread the word among your colleagues and students by forwarding this message to your mailing lists!

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Interested in an advanced degree in Science and Technology Studies (STS)? Join us tomorrow, August 16, 2016 at 7:00pm (refreshments at 6:30pm) at our Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church, VA.

STS Informationa Session/Open House on Thursday, July 14 at VT Alexandria Center.

We're holding an Information Session / Open House about graduate studies in STS in Northern Virginia (degree options, prerequisites, program specifics) on July 14, jointly with the School of Public and International Affairs.

When: Thursday, July 14, 2016, 6:00-7:00pm
Where: 1021 Prince Street, Alexandria (King Street Metro)

Walk-ins welcome, but if you care to RSVP we'll save you a cookie or two:

Please RSVP on the EventBrite page as well:

For more information please contact Dr. Janet Abbate at

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Professor Barbara Allen will be at Drexel University in Philadelphia on January 27 presenting her research at part of their Science, Technology and Society Lecture Series.


Interested in a part-time graduate program exploring the interaction between science, technology, and society? The STS graduate program will hold an information session about our M.S. and Ph.D. programs from 7-8 PM on Thursday, December 10th in room 221 at the Northern Virginia Center. All academic and professional backgrounds welcome. 

We are located near the West Falls Church Metro at the VT/UVA Northern Virginia Center, 7054 Haycock Rd, Falls Church, 22043. No RSVP needed. Parking available in the Metro lot. 

Contact Dr. Sonja Schmid ( with questions.

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Next week, Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at 12:00 to 1:30 PM, SIREN: John Mercier (DNFSB): "Nuclear Detonation Effects in an Urban Area" at Virginia Tech Research Center - Arlington, VA.

One of the most catastrophic incidents that could befall the United States, causing enormous loss of life and property and severely damaging economic viability, is a nuclear detonation in a US city. The immediate consequences of a nuclear explosion are largely predictable. The potential for fires and blast damage to structures notwithstanding, a detonation would present substantial and immediate radiological threats to life. Local, State and Federal preparedness to respond to a nuclear detonation through focused nuclear emergency response planning could result in life-saving on the order of tens of thousands of lives. Understanding the effects of a nuclear detonation is the first step in strategic preparedness for managing the consequences of such a catastrophic incident. This seminar will focus on the effects of an urban nuclear detonation to inform nuclear emergency response planning.

For event details and to RSVP, please visit:

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Professor Barbara Allen's project, conducting a community-based, participatory health survey in a polluted industrial region in France, was discussed in the local newspaper La Provence.

She is working with two advanced graduate students and a post-doc--from left to right: Yolaine Ferrier, Alison Cohen, and Johanna Lees. Lees and Ferrier are anthropologists from the Centre Norbert Elias in Marseille and Cohen is a PhD student in epidemiology from the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley.

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REMINDER: Science and Technology Studies Program will hold an Open House for prospective students at its Northern Virginia Center near the West Falls Church metro on July 9, from 7:00-8:00 p.m.

Find out about part-time M.S. and Ph.D. programs in an exciting interdisciplinary field that examines contemporary controversies, historical transformations, policy dilemmas, and broad philosophical questions. The "Science and Technology Studies" program offers convenient evening classes for working professionals in the National Capital Region; Fall classes start in late August. Students from all backgrounds are welcome.

More information at
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