Janet Vertesi

About Me

Welcome! I am a sociologist of science and technology at Princeton University, where I am an Associate Professor in the Sociology Department.

I am best known for my research with NASA's robotic spacecraft teams, published in books like Seeing Like a Rover and Shaping Science, funded by the National Science Foundation. I am also known for my unique experiments in personal data privacy. And I have a keen interest in the transformations that accompany digital technologies in today's workplace, and how we might built better technologies to better respect our social worlds, which fuels my research, teaching and publishing in human-computer interaction.

Check out my publications, public writing, and ongoing projects through the links on the left.

  • Position Associate Professor, Princeton University
  • Expert in Technology and Society, organizational sociology, science studies, the science of team science, critical design
  • Also affiliated with Computer Science; Center for Information Technology Policy; Data and Society Institute; History of Science Program; Digital Humanities
  • Teaching Technology and Society; the Sociology of the Internet; the Sociology of the Cubicle; Can we build anti-racist technologies?
  • e-mail jvertesi at Princeton dot edu

About My Work

Fun Facts

Planetary missions observed

9

Alternative phone operating systems used

10

Porch Electric Harp Concerts Given in 2020

21

Resume

Education

2009
Ph.D.

Cornell University, USA

Science & Technology Studies

2002
M.Phil.

Cambridge University, UK

History and Philosophy of Science

2002
M.Phil.

University of British Columbia, Canada

Religion Literature and the Arts; Science Studies

Positions held

2013 - current
Faculty member

Princeton University

Department of Sociology. Assistant Professor 2013-2020. Associate Professor 2020-

2010-2013
Postdoctoral Scholar

Society of Fellows

Interdisciplinary center at Princeton University.

2009-2010
Postdoctoral Researcher

University of California Irvine

Research scholar in the Donald Bren School of Computer and Information Sciences.

2005
Human Factors Engineer

Intel Corporation

User Centered Design group

Expertise

  • Science & Technology Studies
  • Organizational Sociology
  • Socioeconomics
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Human-Robot Interaction
  • The future of work
  • The Gig Economy
  • The personal data economy

Professional Associations

  • Society for Social Studies of Science
  • American Sociological Association
  • Association of Computing Machinery
  • Society for the Advancement of Socioeconomics
  • American Geophysical Union

Selected Grants and Awards

Commonwealth Scholarship

For study at Cambridge University
2001-2002

National Science Foundation

Several grants for the study of spacecraft teams.
2006 onward

The Sloan Foundation

Outsourcing program: to study the link between outsourcing and automation.
2018-2021

Yahoo! Research

Faculty Research Engagement Program Fellowship.
2016-2017

NASA

For study of teaming on Europa Clipper mission.
2015

Book Award

American Sociological Association Communication, Information Technology and Media Section
2016

Research

Select Publications

title

Pre-Automation: Insourcing and Automating the Gig Economy (co-authored) (Sociologica, 2021)

Papers
Shaping Science

Shaping Science: Organizations, Decisions, and Culture on NASA's Teams (2020)

Book
digitalSTS

digitalSTS: A Handbook and Fieldguide (2019)

Book
title

All Computer Science publications

Other
title

Testing Planets: Institutions Tested in an Era of Uncertainty (BJS, 2020)

Papers
title

"All these worlds are yours except ... Science fiction and folk fictions at NASA" (eSTS, 2019)

Papers
title

Seizing the digital (eSTS, 2016)

Papers
Seeing Like a Rover

Seeing Like a Rover: How Robots, Teams and Images Craft Knowledge of Mars (2015)

Book
title

The Greatest Missions Never Flown, with Lisa Messeri (T&C, 2015)

Papers
title

Seamful Spaces (STHV, 2014)

Papers
representation-scientific-practice-revisited

Representation in Scientific Practice Revisited (2014)

Book
title

Seeing Like a Rover: Visualization and Interaction on the Mars Exploration Rover Mission (SSS, 2012)

Papers
title

Mind the Gap: The London Underground Map and Users' Representations of Urban Space (SSS, 2008)

Papers

Contact

Members of the press or other media, please contact me via Princeton's media and public relations office at commpro@princeton.edu.

Teaching

Past Courses

Sociology of the Internet

An introduction to social phenomena online, relevant social theories from sociology, and critical work in the field.

Technology and Society

Cross-listed between Engineering, History and Sociology, this course teaches essential sociotechnical skills and strategies.

Sociology of the Cubicle

Organizational sociology, taught from the perspective of the contemporary technology industry.

Can we buid anti-racist technologies?

Senior seminar applying anti-racist approach with critical technical practice to build alternative devices and tools.

Organizational Ethnography

Graduate seminar on organizational sociology, combining classical and contemporary studies.

Technology Studies

Graduate seminar introduction to science and technology studies, emphasizing major theories and theorists.

In the Media

I tweet as @cyberlyra on Twitter: follow me!

If you are interested in getting in touch for an interview, please contact me via Princeton's media and public relations office at commpro@princeton.edu

Reviews for Seeing Like a Rover

Public presentations and videos

  • My panel talk at Theorizing the Web 2014 about the pregnancy experiment, streamed by Mashable here.
  • My talk at the San Francisco Exploratorium: here.

Opinion

Recent News

2020
December

Shaping Science out now!

My new book, Shaping Science, is now available from University of Chicago Press!

2020
May

Tenured at Princeton University

I am delighted to join the professoriate at Princeton University as a tenured professor in Sociology.

2020
June

New NSF Grant

With David Reinecke, I've been awarded a new RAPID grant from the National Science Foundation to study the impact of Covid-19 on the space sciences.

2019
June

digitalSTS released!

The result of eight years of collaboration, our new edited volume on digital studies in STS is available here!

2019
June

Sloan Foundation grant!

With colleague Adam Goldstein I've been awarded a Sloan Foundation grant to study outsourcing and automation in the gig economy.

2018
January

New project

Together with a small team, I am undertaking a study on how the Europa mission fares when it forgoes in-person meetings for digital or alternative forms of interaction.

2016
July

NSF grant!

With David Reinecke, we've been awarded a grant to study economic precarity and mission funding at NASA.