head shot of Sara Schechner

Sara J. Schechner, Ph.D. is the David P. Wheatland Curator of the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments and a Lecturer on History of Science at Harvard University.  She oversees a collection of 25,000 early scientific instruments and engages with students, faculty, and the public not only through courses and museum exhibitions, but also hands-on workshops and performances.  These include re-enactments of electrical experiments performed at 18th-century Harvard and those that inspired Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, observations of eclipses and Transits of Venus using period apparatus, and demonstrations of historical methods for navigation. 

Her research, teaching, and exhibitions have earned her many prestigious international awards, including recognition as a Legacy Fellow of the American Astronomical Society (AAS).  She is currently the president of the Inter-Union Commission for History of Astronomy of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the International Union for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (IUHPST).

Her books include Comets, Popular Culture, and the Birth of Modern Cosmology (1997), Tangible Things: Making History through Objects (2015, with Laurel Thatcher Ulrich et al.), and Time of Our Lives: Sundials of the Adler Planetarium (2019).  Current research focuses on sundials, science, and social change; the representation of astronomers and their instruments in works of art; and scientific instrument making in America.  

Please see https://scholar.harvard.edu/saraschechner for career highlights and details on awards, publications, museum exhibitions, and other projects.