Stuart W. “Bill” Leslie
Department of the History of Science and Technology
Johns Hopkins University
“Better Things Made of Better Stuff: A Brief History of Materials Science from the Space Age to the Information Age”
Abstract: While everyone recognizes DARPA’s early contributions to satellites, ballistic missile defense, GPS, and computer science, it had an equally important role in creating modern materials science. DARPA’s Interdisciplinary Laboratory Program– beginning with Cornell, Northwestern, and Penn, and later expanded to include a dozen top universities–brought together often disparate academic fields into a coherent discipline. These centers set the template for materials science and remain at the forefront of the field today. Other graduate programs subsequently learned from their example how to build a discipline that combined public and private funding in support of ‘better living through better materials.’
BIO: Stuart W. “Bill” Leslie recently retired after forty-three years teaching the history of science and technology at Johns Hopkins University. His research has primarily focused on the global Cold War, including comparative studies of the military-industrial-academic complex in the US and the former USSR. His recent publications include studies of nuclear power and nuclear weapons in India and Pakistan, histories of new technical universities in India, Iran, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and the infrastructure of surveillance in Canada and Australia. He has also authored a series of articles on architecture and science in Physics Today. His undergraduate teaching at Johns Hopkins included The History of the Automobile, Seven Wonders of the Modern World, and Las Vegas: Eight Wonder of the World, with a field trip to Sin City and tours of Hoover Dam, the Nevada Test Site, and the Neon Museum. One of those classes prepared an exhibit design for a proposed Mob Museum and personally presented it to then Mayor Oscar Goodman. He holds a BA in history from Carleton College and an MA and PhD from the University of Delaware.