Donald Opitz speaking at a lectern




About Me

Trained in history of science and technology (PhD, University of Minnesota, 2004), I teach and carry out research on the interrelationships between science and culture, particularly during “Victorian” period of the British Empire and its legacies.

A key focus in my work is the entanglement of science, gender, and sexuality as situated in ways that compel a reorientation of our understandings of the places, practices, and products of scientific work, for instance as inextricable from familial, domestic, and private settings. I seek to illuminate historically sidelined persons and subjects, and explain how scientific hierarchies premised on gender, sexuality, class, and race came to be. Inspired by my teaching, I am also interested in the history of “psychedelic” drugs, especially in the United States.

I hold appointments as Director of Cannabis Studies and Associate Professor at DePaul University (Chicago, USA), where I enjoy affiliations with Continuing and Professional Studies (home unit), American Studies, History, LGBTQ Studies, and Cannabis Studies. I have also held faculty fellowships at the DePaul Humanities Center and Institute for Nature and Culture.

My teaching emphasizes the relevance of science and technology studies (STS) for understanding scientific issues in contemporary society. My signature courses include “Issues in Science and Religion,” “Cannabis and Society,” “Rats in the City,” and “Sexual Orientation and Science.”

Born and raised in Chicago, I have also spent time living in Tijuana, Mexico (while volunteering as a summer school teacher), Minneapolis, Minnesota (while pursuing my doctoral studies), Cambridge, England (while a visiting scholar in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge), Los Angeles, California (while a research fellow at the Huntington Library), and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (while a research fellow at the Consortium for History of Science, Technology, and Medicine).

For leisure and recreation, I enjoy long distance running, yoga, retreating to the Northwoods of Wisconsin, gardening, and playing the French horn.

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In Media

Announcement of guest talk, “Sealing-Wax and String: How Everyday Things Carried Gender into the Physical Laboratory,” Freie Universität Berlin, 2022

Interview on YouTube, Chair of Science, Technology, and Gender Studies, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, 2022

Interview on WTTW Chicago Tonight, “Is Chicago the Rat Capital of the US?” 2018

Livestream recording of guest talk, “The Rat as Boundary Object,” El Centro de Investigaciones Interdiciplinarias en Ciencias y Humanidades, La Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2018

Guest on The Conversationalist Podcast, “Domestic Science in the 19th Century,” Constructing Scientific Communities, Oxford University, 2017

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