Cyrus C.M. Mody

Assistant Professor of History


Office:  Humanities 309

Phone: 713-348-2553

Email:   Cyrus.Mody [at]

Fax:      713-348-5207




Prof. Mody teaches the history of science, technology, and engineering.  His own research focuses on the history of very recent physical and engineering sciences (~1970 to the present), with particular emphasis on the creation of new communities and institutions of research in the late Cold War and the post-Cold War periods, especially in fields related to the semiconductor industry.  His book, Instrumental Community: Probe Microscopy and the Path to Nanotechnology (2011, MIT Press) explores the co-evolution of an experimental technology (the scanning tunneling microscope and atomic force microscope and their variants) and the community of researchers who built, bought, used, sold, theorized, or borrowed these instruments.  Currently, he is working on a history of the communities and institutions of nanotechnology, in collaboration with colleagues at the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at the University of CaliforniaSanta Barbara, the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, and here at Rice.


Prof. Mody has served on dissertation committees for doctoral candidates in History and Anthropology, and has co-taught (with Carl Caldwell) the History department’s pedagogy seminar.  He is available to advise graduate students interested in the history of science or technology (or science and technology studies more generally), and can offer graduate seminars in those fields.



Ph.D., Cornell University, 2004

A.B., Harvard University, 1997




Instrumental Community: Probe Microscopy and the Path to Nanotechnology (MIT Press, 2011).


Some other publications:

2010 (with Michael Lynch).  “Test Objects and Other Epistemic Things: A History of a Nanoscale Object.”  British Journal for the History of Science. 42 (2010): 423-458.

2009 (with Hyungsub Choi).  “The Long History of Molecular Electronics: Microelectronics Origins of Nanotechnology.”  Social Studies of Science. 39.1: 11-50.

2008.  “The Larger World of Nano.”  Physics Today 61.10: 38-44.

2008.  “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, the Nuclear Reactor, the Computer, Ham Radio, and Recombinant DNA.”  Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences. 38.3: 451-461.

2006.  “Corporations, Universities, and Instrumental Communities: Commercializing Probe Microscopy, 1981-1996.”  Technology and Culture.  47: 56-80.

2005.  “The Sounds of Science: Listening to Laboratory Practice.”  Science, Technology, and Human Values.  30: 175-198.

2004.  “Small, But Determined: Technological Determinism in Nanoscience.”  Hyle/Techne (special joint issue on nanotechnology).  10:99-128.

2001.  “A Little Dirt Never Hurt Anyone: Knowledge-Making and Contamination in Materials Science.”  Social Studies of Science.  31:7-36.


Curriculum vitae (with more links to articles)



History 418 Science, Technology, and the Cold War

History 417 Perspectives on Silicon Valley

History 237/Chemistry 235/Anthropology 235 Nanotechnology: Content and Context (with Prof. Kristen Kulinowski)

Hist/Elec 234 Technological Disasters (with Prof. Kevin Kelly)

History 233 Science in the Modern World