Robert Goulding Wins ACLS Fellowship

Author: Jessica Baron

Robert Goulding

Reilly Fellow Robert Goulding, Associate Professor in the Program of Liberal Studies and in the History and Philosophy of Science, has been awarded a prestigious fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) for the 2012-2013 academic year.  This year there were only 65 awards for 1191 applications.

Robert has received the ACLS award for his project Renaissance optics between experiment and imagination: the mathematical practice of Thomas Harriot.  Harriot (1560-1621) served as a mathematical advisor and tutor to Sir Walter Raleigh and the Earl of Northumberland; and, in his spare time, filled thousands of papers with accounts of his experiments and scientific theories.  Although in many ways ahead of his time, he told few about his discoveries, which disappeared along with his papers for centuries after his death.  Robert has been working his way through Harriot's accounts of mirrors, lenses and telescopes in his rediscovered manuscripts, and will use his ACLS Fellowship to write a book that reconstructs the day-to-day life of a Renaissance scientist: his experiments and speculations, his reading and study of his predecessors and contemporaries, and the relationship between his public life as a professional advisor and his more secretive work as a natural and experimental philosopher.

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