A former sociology professor turned professional sociologist, I specialize in the study of decision making, organizational behavior, and human-machine interaction. For the last several years, I have been involved in developing a more sociologically-informed approach to decision analysis. This approach leverages and integrates the strengths of competing perspectives (American pragmatist theory, behavioral economics, cognitive psychology, cultural sociology, organizational analysis, science and technology studies) and offers a model for capturing and evaluating real-world uncertainty management that can be exported and applied to a variety of complex systems and expertise domains.
My recent book, Masters of Uncertainty: Weather Forecasters and the Quest for Ground Truth (University of Chicago Press, 2015), draws on an immersive ethnography of forecasting operations at the National Weather Service to uncover and elaborate processes of prospective reasoning and patterns of decision making under different conditions of deep uncertainty. The proposed conceptual framework underscores the emergent, sociomaterially situated, and time-driven nature of uncertainty management, and it casts into new light how experts make decisions in the digital age. This line of research has received several awards, including the 2017 Book Award for Masters of Uncertainty by the Communication, Information Technologies, and Media Sociology (CITAMS) section of the American Sociological Association.
Currently, I am working on a book project, tentatively entitled How Doctors Make Decisions: The Role of Prognosis in Cardiology Practice, that continues to pursue a sociologically-informed approach to decision making – this time through a comparative ethnography of cardiologists at work. Specifically, I am examining the process of medical diagnosis and prognosis in three distinct organizational settings: a non-profit teaching hospital, a public hospital, and a private hospital.
I have also written about the structure of American sociology, meteorological perception at work, the social organization of expert labor, the performance of expertise in the public domain, and the differential role of users in technology innovation.
professions, workplace transformation, automation
Qualitative and Mixed Methods
observation/evaluation, interviews/focus groups, survey, archival, multistage
Risk and Uncertainty Management
decision making, prospective action, disaster mitigation
medical diagnosis & prognosis, patient engagement
Public Understanding of Science
lay expertise, risk communication, practical knowledge
group culture, adaptive problem solving, institutional change
Visualization and Expertise
screenwork, sense making, creativity, big data
technology development, consumption, museum design