Jennifer S. Light is a professor in MIT's Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS). Her research investigates the intersection of science, technology and urban politics in US history, with special attention to the applications of scientific and technical ideas and innovations in programs of social reform and social control. Light is the author of two books on the sociology of scientific urban knowledge: The Nature of Cities: Ecological Visions and the American Urban Professions, 1920-1960 (2009, 2014) and From Warfare to Welfare: Defense Intellectuals and Urban Problems in Cold War America (2003, 2005). Together, the books explain the dominance of specific scientific models for understanding and managing cities during the twentieth century - and what difference such conceptualizations of city problems and solutions made in how US history unfolded. The Nature of Cities received Honorable Mention for the 2009 Lewis Mumford Prize; From Warfare to Welfare was a finalist for the Don K. Price Award. She is also editor, with Danielle Allen, of From Voice to Influence: Understanding Citizenship in the Digital Age (forthcoming), and author of articles and essays appearing in New Media and Society;Technology and Culture; Journal of Urban History; Journal of the American Planning Association; and other venues.
Light received an AB (History and Literature) and a PhD (History of Science) from Harvard University, and an MPhil from the University of Cambridge (History and Philosophy of Science) where she was the Lionel de Jersey Harvard Scholar. Professor Light has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study and the Derek Brewer Visiting Fellow at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, and received the Catherine Bauer Wurster Prize from the Society for American City and Regional Planning History. Her recent work has been supported by grants from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and theAndrew W. Mellon Foundation. Light serves on the editorial boards IEEE Annals of the History of Computing; Information and Culture; Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences; and Journal of Urban History. She was previously on the faculty of the School of Communication and the Departments of History and Sociology at Northwestern University.