EPIC Conversation with Harriet Zuckerman, discussion led by Dr. Allen Hyman
Harriet Zuckerman’s research has focused on the social organization of science and scholarship. She is the author of Scientific Elite: Nobel Laureates in the United States (1979). This book, in addition to being a study of the scientific elite, constitutes a fascinating introduction to the phenomenon of multiple discovery, particularly in science and technology. Its findings, particularly in relation to “accumulation of advantage,” are relevant to the question of eminence, exceptional achievement, and greatness. Zuckerman received her A.B. degree from Vassar College and Ph.D. from Columbia University. She was professor of sociology at Columbia and chaired the department in 1978–1982.
Harriet Zuckerman is Professor Emerita at Columbia University and former Senior Vice President of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She received her Ph.D. from Columbia in 1965 and an A.B. from Vassar College in 1958.
Serving as a professor of Sociology at Columbia for 27 years, and department chairman for four, she was one of the early cadres of sociologists who studied science as a social institution. Her research examined social stratification in science in books such as Scientific Elite: Nobel Laureates in the United States and The Outer Circle: Women in the Scientific Community while her papers treated scientific misconduct, the emergence of scientific specialties, careers of men and women scientists, intellectual property rights in science and scholarship, and the history and operation of the referee process in scientific journals. Her current research examines the paths PhDs in the humanities take to earning tenure and sociological semantics—the exploration of language as an indicator of societal development.
At the Mellon Foundation, she oversaw its grant portfolios on Universities and the Humanities, its support for scholars, research institutes, research libraries, and the development of new lines of inquiry. She also supervised Foundation’s research grants on higher education. A book, Educating Scholars, with co-authors Ronald Ehrenberg, Jeffrey Groen, and Sharon Brucker, assessed the effectiveness of programs aimed at speeding up the protracted time students take to complete the PhD in the humanities.
Professor Zuckerman has held fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and the Russell Sage Foundation. A member of the American Philosophical Society where she now chairs its nominations committee, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she holds honorary degrees from Eötvos Lorand, the University of Budapest, and Warwick University in the U.K.
She has also served on the Committee on Selection of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and on the boards of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Social Science Research Council and as a trustee of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. She is also a board member of Annual Reviews, Inc. a scientific publisher, and the MIT Corporation’s Visiting Committee in the Humanities. She is now on the Advisory Committee of the Columbia University Press.
When she retired from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a fellowship was established at Columbia University in her name for graduate students in the sociology, history, and philosophy of science