Olga Kuchinskaya, PhD
- Associate Professor • Communications
My research focuses on science communication related to health and the environment. This research is interdisciplinary and informed by my background in communication, women’s studies, and science and technology studies (STS), especially feminist STS.
My first book, The Politics of Invisibility: Public Knowledge about Radiation Health Effects after Chernobyl (MIT, 2014), examines how we know what we know about the consequences of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, the largest nuclear accident to date. The analysis describes the production of invisibility of Chernobyl health effects: practices that displace radiation and its health effects as an object of public attention and scientific research, and make them unobservable. The analysis is based on archival and ethnographic research in Belarus, one of the former Soviet Union republics, which was covered with most of the Chernobyl fallout. More information about the book, as well as related publications, is here.
I continue to be interested in the production of knowledge and ignorance about other environmental hazards, especially imperceptible hazards that require scientific expertise and tools to be established as hazards in the first place. Recent work is here.
My current research focuses on how new media is used to make underresearched and generally ignored environmental and health issues more publicly visible. I am particularly interested in how various publics bring together scholarly research and their own experiential and empirical data in order to make interventions in medical practices, as well as the state of public knowledge more generally. My project examines individual efforts and efforts of ad hoc online communities—rather than work of patients’ organizations—as these efforts are enabled and sustained by new media technologies (i.e., online forums, Twitter) and other technoscientific tools increasingly available to the public. Examples include public engagement with empirical data on air pollution (as facilitated by visualizations and other online tools), patients’ use of new media and scientific research to affect approaches in reproductive medicine (see interview here).
At the University of Pittsburgh, I am also affiliated with the Cultural Studies Program; Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program; and the Center for Bioethics and Health Law.
Areas of research interest: risk/health/environmental communication; science and technology studies, public engagement with science and data, infrastructures, production of ignorance; radiation; reproductive health; new media; feminist studies; grounded theory, qualitative research methods.
Education & Training
- PhD, University of California, San Diego