D M Cicchiello has been awarded the Robert and Mary Jo Nye Graduate Student Essay Award for their historiographic essay, Medical (un)Making: Ethical Responsibilities and the Search for Agency in J. Marion Sims’s Montgomery Experiments. The essay was written for Professor Jacob Hamblin’s History of Science 513 course, which covers the history of science in the 18th and 19th centuries. Hamblin nominated Cicchiello for the award, and the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion (SHPR) chose Cicchiello among other nominees for this award. This achievement will be recognized at the SHPR awards ceremony later this academic year.
The Robert and Mary Jo Nye Graduate Student Essay Award was established in 1999. The award was initially started by the History Graduate Committee, and at that time it was simply called the Graduate Essay Award. The award was established to recognize outstanding work by graduate students in the History of Science program and the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program. At the time of its inception, Robert and Mary Jo Nye helped to support the award. The name of the award was officially changed shortly after Professor Nicole von Germeten took up her position as director of SHPR.
Both Robert and Mary Jo came to Oregon State University as professors of history in 1994 as the first Horning Professors. Mary Jo retired in 2008 and Robert retired in 2007. Before coming to Oregon State University, the Nyes spent 25 years at the University of Oklahoma. Mary Jo served as professor in the History of Science department and Robert served as a professor in the History Department.
The Nyes have kept active in the field of History of Science. Since retirement, Mary Jo has received many awards for her research and scholarship in the field of history of chemical and physical sciences in the 19th and 20th centuries. Most recently she has received the 2013 Neville Prize for her 2011 book Michael Polanyi and His Generation, the 2012 Morris Award for achievement in history of modern chemistry and the 2017 Pais Prize for achievement in the history of physics. Robert has continued researching, and since retiring he has published several articles and he serves on a variety of editorial boards. In 2015 Robert co-edited the Osiris history of science annual volume on Scientific Masculinities with Erika L. Milam.
Even though it is coincidental, it is fitting that Cicchiello was awarded this particular award since their research aligns closely with that of the research interests of Robert, whose research interests have focused largely on the history of sexuality in Western Europe. Cicchiello’s prize winning essay was in this field, as it explored the historical literature surrounding issues of gynecological procedures on black slave women and their agency in Antebellum America. This is in line with Cicchiello’s larger body of work which focuses primarily on the way gender nonconforming patients at the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft in Berlin used resources to transition and create identities through those practices.
This award, however, does not need to align directly with the research interests of the Nyes. It instead serves as a unique and special opportunity to recognize the work of graduate students in the History of Science. Thanks to the initial generous donation of the Nyes, this award will continue to enrich and highlight the excellent work of graduate students in the History of Science program at Oregon State University.