Simpson at the Lick Observatory where she conducted research for her recently published article

2018 PhD graduate in the History of Science, Emily Simpson’s newest article, “Building Canals from Panama to Mars: Technological Progress and Scientific Ideals,” was published in the journal Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences last month.

The article, which discusses how the building of the Panama Canal may have shaped and influenced perspectives and ideas that canals also existed on Mars. This study of how science parallels popular culture and thought is part of Simpson’s academic pursuits and passions–she “likes studying fringe science.”

Photo taken by Simpson of the Lowell Observatory

The article, which was adapted from a chapter of Simpson’s dissertation, “Mars and Popular Astronomy, 1890-1910,” used archival materials found at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona and at the Lick Observatory at the University of California Santa Cruz.

Since graduating from Oregon State University, Simpson has been busy. Simpson’s second article should be published in the special issue of the Notes and Records of the Royal Society soon, of which, Oregon State emeritus professor, Anita Guerrini, is editing. Simpson is also working on a book called, Mirrors, Seances, and Radio Signals: The Quest to Contact Mars, which will include information from her current article. Currently Simpson teaches science fiction writing through the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. Previous to that position, Simpson worked as an adjunct instructor at Oregon State University in the Physics department.

Photo taken by Simpson at the Lowell Observatory archives