Abby J. Kinchy

Associate Professor, Science and Technology Studies

Abby Kinchy is a sociologist working in the interdisciplinary field of Science and Technology Studies (STS). At Rensselaer, she teaches courses such as "Food, Farms, and Famine," "Concepts in STS," and "Senior Project." She also supervises graduate students in STS, typically on topics relating to science, the environment, and social movements.

Kinchy’s research focuses on three main themes: 1) controversial technologies, 2) food, water, and energy, and 3) citizen science. Most of her research centers on the social and political dynamics of controversies over new and potentially dangerous technologies. She studies how social movements (such as the alternative agriculture movement and anti-fracking activists) resist and shape the development of controversial technologies. She is particularly interested in the use of citizen science as a tool of social movements and as form of civic organizing.

Kinchy has pursued these themes in a variety of publications, including the book Seeds, Science, and Struggle: The Global Politics of Transgenic Crops, published by the MIT Press in 2012, and an array of articles published as part of the Watershed Knowledge Mapping Project ( Her forthcoming book addresses the politics of environmental citizen science.

Kinchy has received funding from the National Science Foundation to support the organization of workshops to build research networks in two key areas: social dimensions of subterranean research and extraction, and citizen science in the food system. She is a co-organizer of STS Underground, a research network that advances social science research on the technoscientific dimensions of mining, burial, and other forms of subterranean exploration. She is also a co-organizer of the Workshop on Citizen Science and the Food System. 


Ph.D., Sociology and Rural Sociology, University of Wisconsin–Madison

M.S., Sociology and Rural Sociology, University of Wisconsin

B.S., Science, Technology and Society, Vassar College

Research Focus
  • Sociology
  • Environmental politics
Select Works
  • Seeds, Science, and Struggle: The Global Politics of Transgenic Crops. MIT Press, 2012.