Carnegie Mellon University

Associate Professor of English, Director of Undergraduate Studies


My primary interest is in the intersection of science, mathematics, and rhetoric. My forthcoming book Evolution by the Numbers explores the confluence of these three fields in the development of theories of evolution and heredity in the nineteenth century. In this work, I examine how mathematical warrants become accepted sources for argument in the biological sciences and explore the importance of rhetorical strategies in persuading biologists to accept mathematical arguments. In addition, I am interested in science and mathematics and its role in public policy particularly in the debates over nuclear power. I am currently developing a project examining how citizen stakeholders develop sufficient scientific expertise to effectively challenge government claims about the safety of the technology. I am also interested in how the government responds to citizen expertise by developing a new program of probabilistic risk assessment. 


  • Ph.D., University of Maryland
  • MA, Case Western Reserve University
  • BS, Eastern Michigan University



Evolution by Numbers: The Origins of Mathematical Argument in Biology. West Lafayette: Parlor P. (Forthcoming, July 2011)

Refereed Journals

"A New Species of Argument: The Role Of Mathematics in Darwin's The Origin of the Species." 19th Century Prose 38.1 (2011).

"Arithmetic of the Species: Darwin and the Role of Mathematics in his Argumentation." Rhetorica 27.1 (2009).

"Alone in the Garden: How Gregor Mandel's Inattention to Audience May Have Affected the Reception of His Theory of Inheritance in 'Experiments in Plant Hybridization'." Written Communication 24.1 (2007): 3-27.

Curriculum Vita