Sara Wylie

Assistant Professor Sociology and Health Science
education Ph.D., 2011, History, Anthropology and Science, Technology and Society (HASTS)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
Mailing address 335 INV
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115

Sara Wylie seeks to develop new modes of studying and intervening in large-scale social issues such endocrine disrupting chemicals through a fusion of social scientific, scientific and art/design practices. Dr. Wylie is director of Toxics and Health Research for Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, and has a joint appointment between health sciences and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology as part of Northeastern’s Social Science and Environmental Health Research Institute. She completed her PhD in MIT’s History, Anthropology, Science, Technology and Society (HASTS) Program in 2011. Her dissertation, entitled “Corporate Bodies and Chemical Bonds: an STS analysis of the American Natural Gas Industry,” involved ethnographic study with The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, a non-profit founded by Theo Colborn, lead author of Our Stolen Future, whose independent research on chemicals used in natural gas extraction influenced national discussions of hydraulic fracturing. Ethnographic study with this organization and communities experiencing natural gas extraction led her to develop web-based tools to help communities and experts across the country study and hold extractive industries accountable for their social and environmental impacts. This project called ExtrAct was developed in collaboration with artist and technologist Chris Csikszentmihalyi, in MIT’s Center for Civic Media. Following her interest in digital media, Wylie taught classes on practicing social science critique of science and technology through art and design and co-lead a research group with Jeff Warren on Environmental Justice in Rhode Island School of Design’s (RISD), Digital+Media Department. In 2011 Wylie co-founded a non-profit dedicated to developing open source, Do-It-Yourself tools for community based environmental health research, Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science ( PLOTS won a Knight Foundation’s News Challenge Grant in the summer of 2011.

Selected Publications

“Grassroots Mapping: Creating a participatory map-making process centered on discourse”Journal of Aesthetics and Protest: Issue 8- Grassroots Modernism- with Shannon Dosemagen, Jeff Warren 12/1/11

“From Grassroots Mapping to a Public Laboratory” Citizen Science Quarterly vol. 1 – with Adam Griffith, Jeffrey Warren 3/29/11

“Hormone Mimics and their Promise of Significant Otherness.” Science as Culture. 5/5/11.


“How Public Lab Drafts the Public with its Open-Source Tool Development Process” PBS MediaShift IdeaLab Blog – Sara Wylie, 6/20/12

“The Faces Behind Public Lab’s Grassroots Research Community” PBS MediaShift IdeaLab Blog – Shannon Dosemagen and Sara Wylie, 3/12/12

“How Public Lab’s Thermal Flashlight Could Improve Home Insulation” PBS MediaShift IdeaLab Blog – Sara Wylie, 1/17/12

“Public Laboratory: Don’t Just Report Science, Do It!” PBS MediaShift – Shannon Dosemagen, Jeff Warren and Sara Wylie, 11/23/11

“Public Lab Aims for Affordable Hydrogen Sulfide Sensors” PBS MediaShift IdeaLab Blog- Sara Wylie and Shannon Dosemagen, 10/25/11