Douglas Rogers, Anthropology, Spring 2021

My research interests in recent years have turned to topics in the history and anthropology of science/technology, especially in the areas of petroleum microbiology, hydrocarbon biotechnology, and the geology of oil deposits. Although I’ve written plenty about oil as a natural resource from a social science perspective, the biological/geological sciences side of all of this is quite new to me (before the TRL program, the last biology class I took was in my first year of high school!). In Spring 2021, I took “History of Life,” “Biotechnology,” and the first part of the Introductory Biology sequence, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how this worked out. Each course gave me some basic grounding in key scientific concepts relevant to my research plans. I learned a ton, and it will stay with me and shape how my project unfolds.

The TRL semester was the perfect way to do this because it solved a problem I had encountered in this new research project. Standard triennial leaves are scarce and valuable, and it was hard for me to justify dedicating one of those to just taking basic science classes—I need those semesters away from Yale responsibilities for more intensive archival and interview research. But with the TRL program, I was able to learn some science while still staying engaged with most of my other duties around Yale, and save my next triennial leave to dedicate to fieldwork and writing.

There was one additional, unanticipated benefit to the TRL semester: I learned some excellent teaching tips and tricks from my faculty colleagues, including some things that I will incorporate into my own classes in the future. I was especially impressed with some of the inclusive teaching techniques used by the team teaching the Introduction to Biology sequence.