Sara Wylie

Assistant Professor
  • Department of Health Sciences

Office: 335 INV
Phone: 617 373 2385

Education/degrees: PhD MIT History, Anthropology and Science Technology and Society Program

Research Interests: 

Dr. Sara Wylie recently joined the Health Sciences Department as the first faculty hire in the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute lead by Phil Brown. Serving as a Senior Research Scientist for 2012-2013, she joins the Health Science and Sociology Faculty this year as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Wylie received her Ph.D. from MIT’s History, Anthropology and Science, Technology and Society (HASTS) Program in 2011.  Her dissertation “Corporate Bodies and Chemical Bonds: An STS Analysis of the American Natural Gas Industry" is an ethnographic study of the role science based NGOs played in the emergence of public concerns about the human and environmental health impacts of chemicals used in natural gas extraction, particularly hydraulic fracturing. Investigating new methods for practicing Science and Technology Studies research, her dissertation additionally developed and implemented web-based tools to help communities and experts across the country study and hold extractive industries accountable for their social and environmental health impacts. This project (called ExtrAct) was developed in collaboration with artist and technologist Chris Csikszentmihalyi, in MIT’s Center for Civic Media. More generally, Dr. Wylie seeks to develop new modes of studying and intervening in large-scale environmental health issues such endocrine disrupting chemicals through a fusion of social scientific, scientific and art/design practices. Pursuing these interests Dr. Wylie taught in Digital+Media at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) for three years before moving to Northeastern. She has worked extensively with Theo Colborn, lead author of Our Stolen Future. In 2011 Dr. Wylie received the Mullin’s Prize from the Society for the Social Study of Science for her paper on the history of endocrine disrupting pesticides entitled “Hormone Mimics and their Promise of Significant Otherness.”  Dr. Wylie is also a cofounder of Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, a non-profit that develops open source, Do It Yourself tools for community based environmental analysis. In 2011 Public Lab won a Knight Foundation News Challenge Award. Expanding her interest in transforming science practice through STS research, as Public Lab’s Director of Toxics and Health research she organized and initiated open source research projects on low cost thermal imaging, detection of indoor air hazards, community based methods for detection of hydrogen sulfide and home-testing for environmental estrogens. Through her new role helping to build Northeastern’s Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute she continues to work actively with Public Lab, and on environmental health issues related to Hydraulic Fracturing through a research group she has started with Sociology Faculty member Len Albright. This summer she will begin teaching Community Based Participatory Research methods in Health Sciences.

Health Science:

Community Based Participatory Research


Environment and Technology

Controversies in Science

Selected Publications:

"Grassroots Mapping: Creating a participatory map-making process centered on discourse"Journal of Aesthetics and Protest: Issue 8- Grassroots Modernism– with Shannon Dosemagen, Jeff Warren 12/1/11

"From Grassroots Mapping to a Public Laboratory" Citizen Science Quarterly vol. 1 – with Adam Griffith, Jeffrey Warren 3/29/11

“Hormone Mimics and their Promise of Significant Otherness.” Science as Culture. 5/5/11.


"How Public Lab Drafts the Public with its Open-Source Tool Development Process" PBS MediaShift IdeaLab Blog – Sara Wylie, 6/20/12

"The Faces Behind Public Lab's Grassroots Research Community" PBS MediaShift IdeaLab Blog – Shannon Dosemagen and Sara Wylie, 3/12/12

"How Public Lab's Thermal Flashlight Could Improve Home Insulation" PBS MediaShift IdeaLab Blog – Sara Wylie, 1/17/12

"Public Laboratory: Don't Just Report Science, Do It!" PBS MediaShift – Shannon Dosemagen, Jeff Warren and Sara Wylie, 11/23/11

"Public Lab Aims for Affordable Hydrogen Sulfide Sensors" PBS MediaShift IdeaLab Blog– Sara Wylie and Shannon Dosemagen, 10/25/11

Research Projects:

Alternative Media Tools for Studying the Oil and Gas Industry:

Landman Report Card:

News Positioning System:

Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science:

Low Cost Hydrogen Sulfide Sensing:

Low Cost Thermal Imaging: