Dana Simmons
Associate Professor of History
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2004

Areas of specialization: Science and Technology Studies (STS)

(951) 827-5401

I am a historian of science and technology. My research interests include hunger, nutrition, soil and plant science, political economy, the human sciences, feminist theory, architecture, Modern Europe, technopolitics and technoscientific utopias.

My book, Vital Minimum: Need, Science and Politics in Modern France, traces the history of the concept of the "vital minimum"--the living wage, a measure of physical and social needs. In the book I am concerned with intersections between technologies of measurement, such as calorimeters and social surveys, and technologies of wages and welfare, such as minimum wages, poor aid, and welfare programs. How we define and measure needs tells us about the social authority of nature and the physical nature of inequality.

I am currently working on a project tracing the history of the Impostor Syndrome, identified by psychologists in the 1970s among “high-achieving women.” I pursue a theory of the impostor and the anxiety of knowledge-making.

I am also faculty co-organizer of the UCR Science Studies group, which is committed to building a community inclusive of indigenous, minority and marginalized knowledge makers in STS.


Vital Minimum: Need, Science and Politics in Modern France (University of Chicago Press, 2015)

“The Weight of the Moment: J.G.A. Pocock’s History of Politics and Politics of History,” History of European Ideas June 2012.

“L’agronomique et l’anthropologique dans la France postrévolutionaire” book chapter in Anne Lhuissier et al, eds. Normes alimentaires en pratiques. Sciences, enquêtes et campagnes nutritionnelles (Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2012)

“Wages and the Politics of Life in Postwar France,” Journal of Modern History September 2009 81(3): 579-606.

“Famine Disease: Starvation Science from Colonies to Metropole,” book chapter in Frank Trentmann and Alexander Nützenadel, eds. Food and Globalization (Berg, 2008: 173-192.)

“Waste Not, Want Not: Excrement and Economy in Nineteenth-century France,” Representations 96 (Fall 2006): 73-98.

Teaching: I teach undergraduate courses on hunger and famine, disease and society, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, world history and Modern Europe. My current graduate courses deal with the history of things and technopolitics. I am committed to experiments in improvisational pedagogy, game-based and experiential learning.