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Mark Largent
Mark Largent, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development & Professor

Department: HPS
Address: E-29 Holmes
Phone: (517) 884-2902
Email: largent@msu.edu

Ph.D. University of Minnesota, History of Science and Technology 
Professor for James Madison College
Director of STEPPS
Associate Dean for Lyman Briggs College

 

Professor Largent is an historian of science, technology and medicine and director of the Science, Technology, Environment and Public Policy Specialization (STEPPS) at MSU. His research and teaching focuses on the role of scientists and physicians in American public policy. He has written on the evolution-creation debate, the professionalization of American biology, Darwinism, the history of the American eugenics movement, and recent debates over compulsory vaccination. He is the author of Breeding Contempt: The History of Coerced Sterilization in the United States (2008) and Vaccine: The Debate in Modern America (2012). He is currently writing a history of Reye's Syndrome. He spent the 2011-12 academic year in Washington, DC as a American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow at the National Science Foundation.



Grants
    Michigan State University Environmental Science and Policy Program-AgBioResearch Interdisciplinary Team Building Initiative, (PI: Sean Valles. Co-PIs: Kevin C. Elliott, Mark A. Largent, and Aaron M. McCright), Testing Communication Tactics for Overcoming Skepticism [2015 -2016] $6,830

Articles
    2014 “Reflections on Daniel Kevles’s In the Name of Eugenics.” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences.
    2014 Lane, Julia, Mark Largent and Rebecca Rosen. "Science Metrics and Science Policy.” "Beyond Bibliometrics: Harnessing Multidimensional Indicators of Scholarly Impact," MIT Press.
    2013 Largent, Mark. "Vaccine Policy and Practice in the U.S.,” Riley Center Reports.
    2012 Largent, Mark. “Post-Darwin America,” "The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Darwin and Evolutionary Thought," Cambridge University Press.
    2012 Lane, Julie, and Mark Largent. “STAR-METRICS and the Science of Science Policy,” Review of Policy Research 29 2012): 431-438.
    2009 Largent, Mark. “Darwin’s Analogy between Artificial and Natural Selection in the Origin of Species,” Cambridge Companion to the 'Origin of Species.' Cambridge University Press.
    2009 Largent, Mark. “The So-Called Eclipse of Darwinism,” Descended from Darwin: Insights into the History of Evolutionary Studies, 1900-1970. American Philosophical Society.
    2006 Cogdell, Christina, Mark Largent and Robert Rydell. “The Nazi Eugenics Exhibit in America, 1934-1943,” Popular Eugenics: National Efficiency and Mass Culture in the Thirties, edited by Susan Currell and Christina Cogdell. Ohio University Press, 2006.


 Books

Keep Out of Reach of Children: Reye’s Syndrome, Aspirin, and the Politics of Public Health book image
Keep Out of Reach of Children: Reye’s Syndrome, Aspirin, and the Politics of Public Health
Reye’s syndrome, identified in 1963, was a debilitating, rare condition that typically afflicted healthy children just emerging from the flu or other minor illnesses. It began with vomiting, followed by confusion, coma, and in 50 percent of all cases, death. Survivors were often left with permanent liver or brain damage. Desperate, terrorized parents and doctors pursued dramatic, often ineffectual treatments. For over fifteen years, many inconclusive theories were posited as to its causes. The Centers for Disease Control dispatched its Epidemic Intelligence Service to investigate, culminating in a study that suggested a link to aspirin. Congress held hearings at which parents, researchers, and pharmaceutical executives testified. The result was a warning to parents and doctors to avoid pediatric use of aspirin, leading to the widespread substitution of alternative fever and pain reducers. But before a true cause was definitively established, Reye’s syndrome simply vanished.
Pages: 288
Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press
Date Published: February 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1934137888
Vaccine: The Debate in Modern America book image
Vaccine: The Debate in Modern America
Since 1990, the number of mandated vaccines has increased dramatically. Today, a fully vaccinated child will have received nearly three dozen vaccinations between birth and age six. Along with the increase in number has come a growing wave of concern among parents about the unintended side effects of vaccines. In Vaccine, Mark A. Largent explains the history of the debate and identifies issues that parents, pediatricians, politicians, and public health officials must address. Nearly 40% of American parents report that they delay or refuse a recommended vaccine for their children. Despite assurances from every mainstream scientific and medical institution, parents continue to be haunted by the question of whether vaccines cause autism. In response, health officials herald vaccines as both safe and vital to the public's health and put programs and regulations in place to encourage parents to follow the recommended vaccine schedule. For Largent, the vaccine-autism debate obscures a constellation of concerns held by many parents, including anxiety about the number of vaccines required (including some for diseases that children are unlikely ever to encounter), unhappiness about the rigorous schedule of vaccines during well-baby visits, and fear of potential side effects, some of them serious and even life-threatening. This book disentangles competing claims, opens the controversy for critical reflection, and provides recommendations for moving forward.
Pages: 232
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Date Published: 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1421406077
Breeding Contempt: The History of Coerced Sterilization in the United States book image
Breeding Contempt: The History of Coerced Sterilization in the United States
Most closely associated with the Nazis and World War II atrocities, eugenics is sometimes described as a government-orchestrated breeding program, other times as a pseudo-science, and often as the first step leading to genocide. Less frequently it is recognized as a movement having links to the United States. But eugenics does have a history in this country, and Mark A. Largent tells that story by exploring one of its most disturbing aspects, the compulsory sterilization of more than 64,000 Americans. The book begins in the mid-nineteenth century, when American medical doctors began advocating the sterilization of citizens they deemed degenerate. By the turn of the twentieth century, physicians, biologists, and social scientists championed the cause, and lawmakers in two-thirds of the United States enacted laws that required the sterilization of various criminals, mental health patients, epileptics, and syphilitics. The movement lasted well into the latter half of the century, and Largent shows how even today the sentiments that motivated coerced sterilization persist as certain public figures advocate compulsory birth control—such as progesterone shots for male criminals or female welfare recipients—based on the same assumptions and motivations that had brought about thousands of coerced sterilizations decades ago.
Pages: 228
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Date Published: 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0813541822