Professor Lee Vinsel (Assistant Professor, Science and Technology Studies) has been awarded a Fellowship at Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
Vinsel, whose work on the automobile industry’s resistance to gendered crash-test dummies was featured in Bloomberg, is currently researching the genesis of automotive safety during the early period of the automobile, from 1900 to 1940, as part of a book project entitled Taming the American Idol: Risks, Regulations, and the American Automobile, 1900-2010.
“The goal of my research this summer is to show how people tried to control the automobile in the period before the 1960s, when federal government stepped with national regulations,” he said.
Vinsel’s research has focused on how governance changes both technologies themselves and how society uses them. In his latest work, he is particularly interested in how the government regulated the automobile, how the car has changed over time, and how technological systems like traffic signals developed.
“In the 1910s and 1920s, when cities first started putting up traffic signals, each locality in the United States had its own system, so drivers from other places did not know what the signals meant. I am interested in how the world of the automobile became a mostly standardized place,” he said.