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Interview with Carolyn Conley, Ph.D. History

March 08, 2017 by Jeff Hirschy, Communications Director.

On this International Women’s day and Women of Science Wednesday, we salute local woman of science Carolyn Conley. Below is a brief interview with Dr. Conley. Thank you Dr. Conley for providing us with this information. Enjoy! Science!

What is your name? Where are you currently employed/been employed in the past?

Carolyn A Conley, PhD, Professor Emerita at UAB. I was chair of the History Department.
How does/did your work interact with science?
The debate over whether historians belong with the sciences or the arts is a long one which I stressed in my graduate historiography seminars. I consider myself a social scientist. My work is heavily quantitative and I had a National Science Foundation grant for my current research.
How did you become interested in science? Did it become something that you “wanted to do when you grew up” or did you take a longer way around to get there?
From childhood I was fascinated at the challenges of using reason to understand people and society. Research and teaching were both things I enjoyed tremendously. Though I fought against the idea of an academic career, I realize now that I would never have been satisfied doing anything else.
What educational advice would you give students and parents in today’s world in regards to science?
I worry that STEM is being pushed as vocational training. One of my all time favorite quotes is from Einstein who said, “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” and “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science.”
I would encourage students to see the opportunities for creativity and originality in science.
What are your goals for science education and advocacy in today’s world?
It is so vitally important that government support for research continue and grow. Students need holistic education in which they can see that the distinctions between academic disciplines are often arbitrary.
If you could invent one thing, or discover one thing, what would it be and why?
I am a Star Trek fan and I am growing impatient waiting for the transporter.
Do you have anything else you would like to add?
Just that is so important that people understand that Science and Scientists are not Other. We are literally all in this together and it is so important that hard-won expertise and academic rigor not be seen as the enemies of common sense.

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