Kathryn M Olesko


Associate Professor


Faculty - SFS
General profile



+1 202-687-8300

Alt. phone





514 ICC

Office hours

M 1:30-2:30 + Th 3:00-4:30 (new location: 514 ICC)


Kathryn Olesko is a historian of modern science whose main research interests are in measuring practices, science pedagogy, science and engineering in Germany (especially Prussia), and comparative nuclear cultures. Her honors include the Dibner Distinguished Fellowship at the Huntington Library, Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, and several fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and other foundations. In 1998 she was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science “for contributions to scholarship and teaching in the history of science and for leadership in AAAS and the History of Science Society.” In 2016 she was elected Fellow of the American Physical Society "for foundational contributions to the history of physics pedagogy and prolific editorial work in service of the history of science." She was awarded the 2016 Georgetown College Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching.

She has held several administrative positions at Georgetown including Director of the Program in Science, Technology, and International Affairs, and founding Co-Director of the Center for the Environment. She is Past Editor of Osiris and Past Associate Editor of Isis, the two major American journals for the history of science. She is currently co-convener with Joseph Martin of Michigan State University of the online monthly seminar of the Physical Sciences Group of the Consortium for History of Science, Technology, and Medicine. She convenes the Nuclear Seminar Series for the Program in Science, Technology, and International Affairs.

At Georgetown for most of her career, she also has taught at Clarkson University, Cornell University, and Princeton University.She currently teaches courses in the history of science (HIST 209:The Atomic Age, HIST 807 and STIA 479: Comparative Nuclear Cultures, and HIST 348: Art, Science, & Technology in the Renaissance); the foundational course for the major in Science Technology & International Affairs (STIA 305); and Global History on the theme of Exploration from the Out of Africa migration to the Iberian Ascendency (HIST 007). She maintains that using scientific evidence in history--a component of all of her courses--requires a critical perspective on how those findings were attained as well as an assessment of their overall certainty. Her office door is always open to students and colleagues.


Download cv.pdf


  • PhD (1980) Cornell University, History
  • MA (1978) Cornell University, History
  • AB (1973) Cornell University, Physics, Mathematics


  • French (read)
  • German (speak, read)