RIT science, technology and society professor wins prestigious 4S award

Horseshoe crab harvesting leads to endangering of the red knot bird

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Kristoffer Whitney

Kristoffer Whitney, an assistant professor in the Department of Science, Technology and Society at Rochester Institute of Technology, was named winner of the 2016 David Edge Prize from the Society for Social Studies of Science.

The prize is named in memory of David Edge, who had a strong administrative and intellectual role in the development of science and technology studies.

Whitney’s paper was the result of his graduate school dissertation project with research from 2009 and 2012. He shadowed biologists working in the Delaware Bay, between Delaware and New Jersey, who were investigating the effects of horseshoe crab harvested there for bait. As a result, red knot birds migrating over the bay to the arctic each spring aren’t getting enough horseshoe crab eggs and have been listed as a threatened species.

“This article is one little chunk from a larger research project about the history and contemporary science and policy around migratory birds and endangered species,” Whitney said.

He also told about ways the birds have been monitored and protected through a series of environmental regulations, and he described the interaction between scientists and policy makers.

“Winning the prize for the professional society of the discipline is prestigious,” Whitney said. “It was surprising and a great honor.”

He wins $1,000 with the award, which will be given at a ceremony in Barcelona in September.