Anna Dvorak graduated this past summer from Oregon State University’s History of Science program with her PhD. Her dissertation The Scientist’s Imagination: Cold War Politics and Nuclear Futures in Leo Szilard’s Fact and Fiction focuses on the fictional writings of nuclear physicist Leo Szilard and how imagination played into his worldview. Jacob Hamblin in the History of Science served as Dvorak’s major professor. Other committee members included Ray Malewitz in the English Department, emeritus professor in History of Science Michael Osborne, and history professor Paul Kopperman. Her graduate representative was John Becker-Blease.
Dvorak has always been interested in how news has portrayed scientific developments through science fiction tropes. This interest led her to become more focused on how scientists themselves use fiction in their own writing. Szilard is just one of these scientists who dabbled in science fiction writing, and who captured Dvorak’s interest.
Much of Szilard’s writings have been digitized at the University of California, San Diego, and this is where Dvorak gathered much of her source material for her dissertation. She also used documents from all over the country, including materials from Oregon State University’s Special Collections and Archives.
Before Dvorak completed her dissertation, she presented bits of her work to various conferences including the History of Science Society in November 2016 and the Columbia History of Science Group in March 2017. She was also part of the fully funded 10 day camp Wilson Center’s Nuclear Boot Camp at the Machiavelli Center for Cold War Studies in Allumiere, Italy in 2017. The camp sought to develop the next generation of experts in the international history of nuclear weapons.
Prior to receiving her PhD, Dvorak earned her M.A. from Oregon State in history of science. She earned her B.A. from Michigan State University (her home-state) in history, philosophy, and sociology of science.
Since graduating, Dvorak has worked as a remote research consultant on a variety of history topics. She has since joined the staff at Oregon State University’s Special Collection and Research Archives.
In her spare time, Dvorak enjoys baking and exploring the Pacific Northwest by foot, bike, or skis. She also looks forward to regaining her love of reading for fun now that her dissertation is complete.