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Brian Dick Awarded Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship

Brian Dick was awarded the Spencer Dissertation Fellowship for Research Related to Education in the amount of $25,000 for the writing of his dissertation, Legitimating Superstring Theory: A Sociological Analysis of a Theory of Everything. The Spencer Foundations Dissertation Fellowship Program seeks to encourage a new generation of scholars to undertake research relevant to the improvement of education.

The fellowships support individuals whose dissertations show potential for bringing fresh and constructive perspectives to the history, theory, or practice of formal or informal education anywhere in the world.  The award is open to a wide range of disciplines and professional fields and is highly competitive. Drawing on in-depth interviews and archival materials, Dicks dissertations examines the historical development of superstring theory in theoretical high energy physics.  Employing a theoretical framework of scientific legitimacy, he traces the rise and fall of the theory in the mid-1970s when the theory went into a period that he characterizes as dormant science.  Furthermore, he explores the ongoing scientific controversy that emerged in the mid-1980s when superstring theory became the dominant approach to theoretical particle physics, despite there being no way to experimentally test the theory.