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Society for Social Studies of Science

Nicholas C. Mullins Award

Mullins Award 2016: Monamie Bhadra

"Nation-Building Civic Epistemologies in India through Nuclear Politics"

Karen LevyPresentation: Mullins Award Committee members, Tania Pérez-Bustos (Chair), Daniel Breslau, Shobita Parthasarathy, Kellie Owens

For the 2016 Mullins award the committee received a total of 22 papers. In terms of gender distribution, 13 out of these 22 were papers written by women PhD students. In relation to geographical diversity, 15 out of the 22 papers were from students based in the US, 2 were from Canada, 1 from Israel, 1 from New Zealand, 1 from Italy and 1 from Denmark. 

The committee selected four criteria to evaluate the submitted pieces: contribution to the STS field, depth of research, writing quality and ethical/political relevance of the piece. Each aspect was scored, and each paper was evaluated by two reviewers. After a first round of evaluation, we selected the three papers with the highest score and evaluated them again. 

After reviewing the material the committee unanimously selected the paper entitled 'Nation-Building Civic Epistemologies in India through Nuclear Politics' as the winner of the 2016 Mullins Award. The author of this unpublished piece is Monamie Bhadra, Student at the Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology PhD Program at Arizona State University.

Bhadra's paper has a great handle on relevant literature that revises a leading STS theoretical approach, through very thorough and nuanced engagement with an empirical case. As a well-researched and well-written piece it demonstrates the dynamic formation and contestation of civic epistemologies in India. In particular, the paper contributes to de-locating the discussion about civic epistemologies in a 'non-western’ context. With this move it brings forward questions about the assumptions that sustain the idea of democracy at the base of the concept of civic epistemology. It also offers an interesting discussion of the role of states (in their diversity) in the constitution of political controversies surrounding science.

This article focuses on the politics of nuclear power in India, with an emphasis on government policy and grassroots activism, in three phases since the country’s independence. It argues that STS scholars need to rethink our understanding of the concept of “civic epistemology”—the way that a country understands relevant knowledge and expertise for policymaking—when we apply it to younger democracies including India. The committee wants to highlight three particular aspects of this paper. First, it cautions us to consider the research on which our concepts and theories are based, and reminds us how and why research beyond our usual stomping grounds of the United States and Europe really matters. Second, the article is based on a significant amount of novel research (and the paper clearly displays the fruits of this research extremely well). This research spans ethnography, interviews, and document collection and analysis. Finally, it is worth noting that the piece is well written. 


Monamie Bhadra is a doctoral candidate at Arizona State University’s Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology program. She will soon begin a post-doctoral position at The Ohio State Univeristy's Department of Comparative Studies as an American Council of Learned Societies/Global STS Fellow. Her research analyzes the political and cultural ramifications of energy transitions in the developing world by bringing together insights from science and technology studies, postcolonial studies, and democratic theory. Her dissertation, which she will defend in July 2016, explores contemporary politics over nuclear energy in India, particularly the politics of knowledge around the rise of anti-nuclear activism, to gain a better understanding of the meanings and practices of Indian democracy.


I am very honored to receive the 2016 Nicholas C. Mullins Award for my paper "Nation-Building Civic Epistemologies in India through Nuclear Politics.” I would like to acknowledge the generous support of the American Institute of Indian Studies and Arizona State University, as well as Clark Miller and Ed Hackett, for their guidance and feedback. I would also like to convey my heartfelt appreciation to members of the Indian anti-nuclear community for their time, compassion, humor and expertise.

Student Essay Competition

Deadline for Submission: 15 September, 2016

The Nicholas C. Mullins Award is awarded each year by the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) for an outstanding piece of scholarship by a graduate student in the field of Science and Technology Studies. The prize consists of a plaque and a check for US $1,000 to help defray the costs of attending the annual meeting to receive it.

Only currently enrolled graduate students are eligible to submit a paper for the 4S Mullins competition. If receipt of PhD (or other terminal graduate degree) is held by the submission deadline, those degree recipients are not eligible for the competition.

The competition is for graduate student papers in the field of science and technology studies, including unpublished papers, published articles, and dissertation chapters. Dissertation chapters should be adapted so as to make them "stand-alone." The work may not be older than two years at the time of submission. A graduate student can only make one submission a year. A paper that is coauthored by a faculty member is not considered a graduate student paper. However, a paper coauthored by current graduate students only (with no faculty authors) is eligible.

The intended readership for the papers is a general STS audience. All papers must be submitted in English. The paper should not exceed 10,000 words, including title, notes, and references. Papers longer than the limit will be disqualified.

The deadline for submission is September15. Papers submitted after this date will not be considered for this year’s competition, and must be resubmitted the following year. Submissions must observe the following guidelines:

  • The paper must be submitted electronically, as an attachment to an email message, in MS Word or PDF format.
  • The subject line of the email message should read “4S Mullins submission.”
  • The filename of the submission should consist of the first two significant words of the paper title (excluding articles such as “the” or “an”).
  • Authors must include the total word count immediately after the title on the first page of their submission.
  • To facilitate blind review, the author's name, address, email address, and institutional affiliation should appear only in the covering e-mail. 
  • Also in the covering email, authors must provide the name of their graduate program, the date they began study, and the date they expect to receive their degree.

Send the submission to the chair of the Nicholas C. Mullins committee, Oscar Javier Maldonado,

The prize includes a cash award to help defray the costs of attending the annual meeting to receive it. The award will be announced at the Presidential Awards Plenary of the 2017 4S Meeting. The Chair will inform the winner as soon as possible after the decision, in order that they may attend the ceremony.

Past Prize Winners

2015 - Karen Levy

2014 - Rahul Mukherjee

2013 - Nadine Levin

2012 - Joeri Bruyninckx

2011 - Sara Wylie

2010 - Ian Mosby

2009 - Manjari Mahajan

2008 - Jenna Burrell

2007 - Teun Zuiderent-Jerak

2006 - Natasha Myers

2005 - Michael Oldani

2004 - Jennifer Fishman

2003 - Park Doing

2002 - Doug Davis

2001 - Karen Flint

2000 - Cyrus Mody

1998 - Sean Hsiang-lin Lei

1997 - Massimiano Bucchi

1996 - Janelle Taylor

1995 - Stefan Helmreich

1994 - Marc Berg

1993 - Joseph O'Connell

1992 - Shahaf Gal

1991 - Stephan Hirschauer