I'm Director of the Program on Science, Technology & Society and a William J. Perry Fellow in International Security at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford. I'm also Professor of Information and History (Emeritus) at the University of Michigan, where I worked for almost 20 years. I also taught at Stanford from 1992-1998 in various capacities, mainly in the Science, Technology & Society Program that I now direct.

I write and teach about the history, politics, and culture of information infrastructures, especially climate knowledge systems. My books include A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming (MIT Press, 2010) and The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America (MIT Press, 1996), and Changing the Atmosphere: Expert Knowledge and Environmental Governance (MIT Press, 2001, co-edited with Clark Miller). With Geof Bowker, I'm academic editor of the MIT Press book series Infrastructures.

I currently serve as one of over 900 lead authors for the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to be released in 2021.

If you need to shorten the bio, cut the last one or two sentences.

Academic Appointments

  • Senior Lecturer, Inter-Departmental Programs
  • Sr Research Scholar, Center for International Security and Cooperation

Administrative Appointments

  • Director, Program in Science, Technology & Society (2019 - Present)

Honors & Awards

  • Distinguished Faculty Fellow in Sustainability, Graham Institute, University of Michigan (2016-17)
  • Senior Fellow, Michigan Society of Fellows (2016-17)
  • Resident Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study in Media Cultures of Computer Simulation, Leuphana University (2015)
  • Louis J. Battan Author's Award, American Meteorological Society (2013)
  • Computer History Museum Book Prize, Society for the History of Technology (2011)
  • Carnegie Scholar, Carnegie Corporation of New York (2003-04)
  • Guggenheim Fellowship, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2003-04)

Professional Education

  • PhD, University of California, Santa Cruz, History of Consciousness (1988)
  • BA, Wesleyan University, Language and Mind (1980)

All Publications

  • Re-integrating scholarly infrastructure: The ambiguous role of data sharing platforms BIG DATA & SOCIETY Plantin, J., Lagoze, C., Edwards, P. N. 2018; 5 (1)
  • Producing "one vast index'': Google Book Search as an algorithmic system BIG DATA & SOCIETY Chalmers, M. K., Edwards, P. N. 2017; 4 (2)
  • Knowledge infrastructures for the Anthropocene ANTHROPOCENE REVIEW Edwards, P. N. 2017; 4 (1): 34–43
  • Big Data Is the Answer ... But What Is the Question? OSIRIS Strasser, B. J., Edwards, P. N. 2017; 32 (1): 328–45

    View details for DOI 10.1086/694223

    View details for Web of Science ID 000414243200016

  • Entangled histories: Climate science and nuclear weapons research BULLETIN OF THE ATOMIC SCIENTISTS Edwards, P. N. 2012; 68 (4): 28–40
  • Climate Change: Science and Software Introduction IEEE SOFTWARE Easterbrook, S. M., Edwards, P. N., Balaji, V., Budich, R. 2011; 28 (6): 32–35
  • Science friction: Data, metadata, and collaboration SOCIAL STUDIES OF SCIENCE Edwards, P. N., Mayernik, M. S., Batcheller, A. L., Bowker, G. C., Borgman, C. L. 2011; 41 (5): 667–90


    When scientists from two or more disciplines work together on related problems, they often face what we call 'science friction'. As science becomes more data-driven, collaborative, and interdisciplinary, demand increases for interoperability among data, tools, and services. Metadata--usually viewed simply as 'data about data', describing objects such as books, journal articles, or datasets--serve key roles in interoperability. Yet we find that metadata may be a source of friction between scientific collaborators, impeding data sharing. We propose an alternative view of metadata, focusing on its role in an ephemeral process of scientific communication, rather than as an enduring outcome or product. We report examples of highly useful, yet ad hoc, incomplete, loosely structured, and mutable, descriptions of data found in our ethnographic studies of several large projects in the environmental sciences. Based on this evidence, we argue that while metadata products can be powerful resources, usually they must be supplemented with metadata processes. Metadata-as-process suggests the very large role of the ad hoc, the incomplete, and the unfinished in everyday scientific work.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/0306312711413314

    View details for Web of Science ID 000294837400003

    View details for PubMedID 22164720

  • History of climate modeling WILEY INTERDISCIPLINARY REVIEWS-CLIMATE CHANGE Edwards, P. N. 2011; 2 (1): 128–39

    View details for DOI 10.1002/wcc.95

    View details for Web of Science ID 000291739500011

  • A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming Edwards, P. N. MIT Press. 2010
  • History and the Technopolitics of Identity: The Case of Apartheid South Africa JOURNAL OF SOUTHERN AFRICAN STUDIES Edwards, P. N., Hecht, G. 2010; 36 (3): 619-639
  • Revolutionary secrets - Technology's role in the South African anti-apartheid movement SOCIAL SCIENCE COMPUTER REVIEW Garrett, R., Edwards, P. N. 2007; 25 (1): 13–26
  • Meteorology as infrastructural globalism OSIRIS Edwards, P. N. 2006; 21: 229–50

    View details for DOI 10.1086/507143

    View details for Web of Science ID 000240031800011

  • Changing the Atmosphere: Expert Knowledge and Environmental Governance edited by Miller, C. A., Edwards, P. N. MIT Press. 2001
  • The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America Edwards, P. N. MIT Press. 1996