Academic Profile

Academic Profile

Assoc Prof Hallam Stevens

Head, History
Associate Director (Academic), NTU Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity

School of Humanities
College of Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences

Phone: (+65)67905691
Office: HSS-05-07(HIST)

  • PhD Harvard University 2010
  • MPhil (Hist & Phil Sci) University of Cambridge 2004
  • AB (Magna Cum Laude) Harvard College 2002
Dr. Stevens was born in the UK, grew up in Australia, and pursued his education mostly in the United States. After studying physics and the history of physics as an undergraduate, he pursued an MPhil in the history and philosophy of science at Cambridge University. He obtained his PhD from the Department of History of Science at Harvard in 2010 and moved to Singapore in 2011. His first book, published in November 2013, is titled "Life out of sequence: a data-driven history of bioinformatics" (University of Chicago Press). He has also co-edited (with Sarah S. Richadson) a volume of essays under the title "Postgenomics: Approaches to Biology After the Genome" (Duke University Press, 2015).
Research Interests
My research focuses on the intersection between information technology and biotechnology. My first book is an historical and ethnographic account of the changes wrought to biological practice and biological knowledge by the introduction of the computer. Especially in highly computerized fields such as genomics, the computer has changed how biologists work, how biologists collaborate, and how biologists make knowledge.

I am currently pursuing two ongoing research projects. The first is an attempt to develop new methods of studying scientific practice by deploying tools from performance studies. In collaboration with a performance studies scholar, I am examining spaces of biomedical work in East Asia in an effort to deepen our understanding of how such spaces fit into the economic, social, and political context of the cities in which they sit. Sites under examination include Biopolis in Singapore and BGI in Shenzhen.

The second project examines the emergence of "big data." This apparently new field is quite suddenly having an immense impact on politics, the economy, and many aspects of our social world. What is really new about big data? What kinds of changes may it bring? Who will benefit? Historians of technology, in particular, are well equipped to ask and answer such important questions about this emerging phenomenon.

In addition to these projects, I have just completed a general audience book that examines that provides a broad overview of the social, political, and economic effects of biotechnology. The book will be published under the title "Biotechnology & Society" in 2016 (University of Chicago Press).

I am interested in supervising PhD students on topics related to the history of the life sciences, the history of information technology, and science and technology studies.
Current Projects
  • Networking Science: A Historical Examination of the Impact of the Internet on Biology and Other Sciences
  • Performances of life: the social, political, and economic contexts of biomedicine in Singapore, China, and Japan
  • Transclusions: Alternative visions of living digitally
  • Unpacking
Selected Publications
  • Hallam Stevens. (2018). Hans Peter Luhn and the Birth of the Hashing Algorithm. IEEE Spectrum, .
  • Hallam Stevens. (2017). “A Feeling for the Algorithm: Working Knowledge and Big Data in Biology”. Osiris, 32(1), 151-174.
  • Hallam Stevens. (2017). Globalizing Genomics: The Origins of the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration. Journal of the History of Biology, .
  • Stevens, H. (2017). Review of: Christine L. Borgman. Big Data, Little Data, No Data: Scholarship in the Networked World (MIT Press, 2015).. Technology and Culture, 57(3), 706-708.
  • Reardon, J. Ankeny, R.A., Bangham, J., Darling, K.W., Hilgartner, S., Jones, K.M., Shapiro, B., Stevens, H. and the Genomic Open Workshop Group. (2016). Bermuda 2.0: Reflections from Santa Cruz. GigaScience, 5, 1-4.

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