Stefan Helmreich

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Stefan Helmreich


Stefan Helmreich received his B.A. from University of California, Los Angeles (Anthropology, 1989) and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University (Anthropology, 1995). He has worked as a Postdoctoral Associate in Science and Technology Studies at Cornell University, an External Faculty Fellow at the Center for the Critical Analysis of Contemporary Culture at Rutgers University, and as Assistant Professor of Science and Society at New York University. The National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation have funded his research. He is currently an Associate Professor in the MIT Anthropology Department, one of the best departments to study Cyborg Anthropology in the world.


Helmreich's research examines the works and lives of contemporary biologists puzzling through the conceptual boundaries of “life” as a category of analysis. He has written extensively on Artificial Life, most notably in Silicon Second Nature: Culturing Artificial Life in a Digital World (University of California Press, 1998), which in 2001 won the Diana Forsythe Book Prize from the American Anthropological Association. His latest book, Alien Ocean: Anthropological Voyages in Microbial Seas (University of California Press, 2009), is a study of marine biologists working in realms usually out of sight and reach: the microscopic world, the deep sea, and oceans outside national sovereignty. Working alongside scientists in labs and at sea, Helmreich charts how revolutions in genomics, bioinformatics, and remote sensing press marine biologists to see the sea as animated by its smallest inhabitants: marine microbes, which are being rendered meaningful as pointers to the origin of life, barometers of climate change, raw materials for biotechnology, and analogues for extraterrestrial life.

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