A scholar and teacher re-examines moments in the history of STEM

whenever Clare Kim started the woman autumn 2017 semester as training assistant for 21H.S01, the inaugural “MIT and Slavery” training course, she didn’t know she and her students is creating a historical moment of their own in the Institute.

Alongside Craig Steven Wilder, the Barton L. Weller Professor of History, and Nora Murphy, an archivist for specialist solutions into the MIT Libraries, Kim assisted a group of pupils utilize archival products to examine the Institute’s connections to slavery and how that legacy has impacted the present day framework of systematic establishments. The conclusions that found light through class thrust Kim along with her pupils onto a prominent phase. They talked about their particular study in news interviews as well as a standing-room-only discussion board, and helped bring MIT into a nationwide discussion about universities together with institution of slavery in the us.

For Kim, a PhD pupil in MIT’s plan ever sold, Anthropology, and Science, tech, and Society (HASTS), it had been specifically satisfying to assist the pupils to think critically about their own systematic sort out a historical context. She liked witnessing how the program challenged standard some ideas that were presented for them about their particular various fields of study.

“I think folks usually believe way too much about record as being a series of true facts where in actuality the narrative that gets constructed is stabilized. Conducting historical scientific studies are fun because you have possiblity to re-examine proof, study archival products, reinterpret a number of exactly what had been written, and art a narrative because of this,” Kim states.

This season, Kim ended up being granted the prestigious Goodwin Medal for her are a TA for many MIT classes. The award recognizes graduate teaching assistants that have gone the additional mile within the classroom. Professors, peers, and former students praised Kim for her compassionate, supporting, and individual way of teaching.

“Everyone loves teaching,” she states. “i enjoy have conversations with my students about what I’m contemplating. It’s not that I’m simply imparting understanding, but Needs them to produce a vital attitude. Needs all of them to challenge whatever analyses I introduce for them.”

Kim in addition applies this critical-thinking lens to her own scholarship in reputation for mathematics. She’s specifically enthusiastic about studying math in this way considering that the field is often perceived as “all-stable” and contained, when indeed its boundaries have been even more liquid.

Mathematics and creativity

Kim’s very own work re-examines the real history of mathematical thought and exactly how it’s affected nonscientific and technical industries in U.S. intellectual life. Her dissertation centers around the real history of mathematics and the techniques mathematicians interacted with musicians, humanists, and philosophers through the entire 20th century. She discusses the discussion and negotiations between various scholars, checking out the way they reconfigured the boundaries between academic procedures.

Kim says this minute of all time is specially interesting as it reframes math like a field which has hadn’t operated autonomously, but rather has actually involved with humanistic and imaginative techniques. This creative point of view, she says, proposes a continuous, historic commitment between mathematics and arts and humanities which could come as a surprise to those more likely to connect math with technical and armed forces programs, about regarding practical utilizes.

“Accepting this clean divide between math and the arts occludes each one of these fascinating interactions and conversations between mathematicians and nonmathematicians in what it meant to be contemporary and imaginative,” Kim states. One minute of interaction she explores is between mathematicians and design theorists in 1930s, who worked together so that they can develop and instruct a mathematical principle of “aesthetic measure,” a means of ascribing judgments of beauty and style.  

Building the foundation

By having an engineering professor daddy plus mathematician mama, Kim is definitely contemplating research and math. However, she states impacts from the woman family, with a twin-sister who’s a classicist as well as an older sister which studied architectural biology, ensured that she would also establish strong background in the humanities and literature.

Kim joined university thinking that she’d pursue a technical field, though most likely not mathematics it self — she jokes that her mathematics job peaked during her time contending in MATHCOUNTS as being a kid. But during the woman undergraduate years at Brown University, she took a course on reputation for science taught by Joan Richards, a professor focusing on the history of math. Indeed there, she discovered the woman curiosity about studying not merely systematic understanding, nevertheless the those who pursue it.

After making a bachelor’s ever at Brown, having a focus in mathematics and research, Kim decided to go after a doctoral degree. MIT’s HASTS program appealed to the woman due to the interdisciplinary method of studying the social and political the different parts of research and technology.

“In addition to getting much more formal trained in a brief history of research itself, HASTS trained myself in anthropological query, political principle, and all sorts of these different varieties of methods that may be delivered to bear regarding the social sciences and humanities more generally,” Kim claims.

After defending her thesis, Kim will begin a postdoc at Washington University in St. Louis, in which she’s going to carry on her study and commence changing her dissertation in to a book manuscript. She’s going to be training a training course she’s got created known as “Code and Craft,” a course that explores, in many different historical contexts, the artful and artisanal aspects of AI, processing, and usually “technical” domains.

Inside her free time, Kim methods taekwondo (she’s got a first-degree black-belt) and enjoys using lengthy walks through Cambridge, which she states is how she gets several of her most useful reasoning done.