Patrick Eamonn Carroll

Patrick Carroll Portrait

Position Title
Professor Emeritus

2272 Social Science and Humanities


  • Ph.D., Sociology & Science Studies, UC San Diego, 1999
  • M.A., Sociology, UC San Diego, 1995
  • M.A., Modern History, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, 1991, First Class Honors (U.S. equiv. summa cum laude)
  • B.A., History & Sociology, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, 1989 Double First Class Honors (U.S. equiv. summa cum laude)


Having originally left school for work at age 15, Professor Carroll began his B.A. degree at age 24. Over the following five years he received his B.A. (double majoring in sociology and history), and an M.A. in modern history (both Summa Cum Laude). Upon securing a Fulbright Scholarship and UC Regents Fellowship, he began (in 1991) a Ph.D. in sociology at UC San Diego. While there he discovered a newly created Science Studies (or STS) Program. Given his early interest in power and knowledge, he quickly joined the interdisciplinary program, completing his Ph.D. in sociology with a DE in science studies. While completing his dissertation in 1998, he was hired at UC Davis by a search driven by the decision to expand the existing History and Philosophy of Science Program to include social science, and transition that program to a new STS Program. Since then he has been centrally involved in the development of the program, as an undergraduate major was created, and later a graduate program DE in STS.

Research Focus

Patrick Carroll’s central research interest is the relationship between science and governance, and the consequences of that relationship for the process of modern state formation and the form of the modern state. He considers this question historically, from the scientific revolution to the present, and focuses on how land, the built environment, and bodies/people emerge as boundary objects around which and through which science and government interact and network. He has researched the role of a range of sciences, from cartography and surveying, to public health and sanitary engineering. His methods are historical and case-based. In earlier research, his empirical focus was the case of colonial Ireland, from 1650 to 1900. This research was published by the University of California Press, under the title Science, Culture, and Modern State Formation.

Currently Professor Carroll is researching the case of California, from 1850 to 2000. His focus is on the intersections of science and government around land reclamation, flood control, water storage and conveyance, and environmental management. He is particularly interested in how the state of California was built into and out of the material infrastructure of dams, flood control structures, earthworks, levees, aqueducts and so on; the role of science and engineering in these projects; and the way different levels of governance, from the federal to the district level, were expanded, articulated, and stitched together through the material culture of flood control and water conveyance. He is particularly concerned with how just one of many delta regions in the state, the “Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta,” was conceptualized as a coherent object of government-sponsored technoscience, and constructed as the heart of California as a technoscientific state. The research is also critically concerned with how the new environmental movement of the late twentieth century caused major shifts in the regime of governance in “the delta,” making it “ground zero” for water politics in the state.

Theoretically he engages with Foucaultian themes of governmentality, and with actor-network theory’s concerns about materiality, and the ways that humans and non-humans are assembled into durable socio-technical networks. His work on California elaborates a new conceptual understanding of the modern state through concepts like “organic engine” and “enviro-state.”


Carroll, P. (2012) Water and technoscientific state formation in California, Social Studies of Science 42-4 (2012), 489-516

Carroll, P. (2006) Science, Culture, and Modern State Formation. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.

Carroll-Burke, P. (2002) Material designs: Engineering cultures and engineering states – Ireland, 1650-1900. Theory and Society, 31, 75-114.

Carroll, P. (2002) Medical police and the history of public health. Medical History, 46, 461-494.

Carroll-Burke, P. (2001) Tools, instruments, and engines: Getting a handle on the specificity of engine science. Social Studies of Science 31:4, 593-626.


Since being hired, Professor Carroll’s teaching has been split evenly between the Department of Sociology and the STS Program. In STS he has been the principal instructor for STS 1, and teaches a course on Science and Power. In sociology he regularly teaches Sociology 1. He also has taught sociology of knowledge and graduate seminars in Classical and Contemporary Theory. He recently created a new undergraduate seminar course (co-listed in both sociology and STS). The course is titled “Networked and Hybridized: Technoculture and the Cyborg Society.


National Science Foundation Grant for Project: “California Delta: The Engineered Heart of a Modern State Formation.” $163,000; funding period 2008-2011.

Mellon Sawyer Postdoctoral Fellowship, International Institute for Advanced Studies, New York University, 1998. $36,000 (Declined in order to take faculty position at UC Davis).

Dissertation Fellowship, NSF/Science Studies Program. University of California, San Diego, 1995. $25,000

Regents Fellowship, University of California, 1991. $17,000

Fulbright Scholarship, Irish-American Fulbright Commission, 1991. $8,000

Faculty of Arts Scholarship, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, 1989. $6,000