News / iSchool Professor Susan “Leigh” Star Passes Away


The School of Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh regrets to announce the death of Professor Susan “Leigh” Star, on Wednesday, March 24, 2010. Professor Star held the Doreen E. Boyce Chair in Library and Information Science; she was selected for this distinguished position because of her interest and scholarship on the broad roles of the library and of information in modern society.

Dr. Star also served as the Director of the Sara Fine Institute (SFI), which is dedicated to examining the ways in which technology impacts interpersonal communications and relationships with family, friends, professional colleagues, governing bodies, health care providers, and educational institutions. She taught several new courses at the School including “Literacy in the Information Age” for both graduate and undergraduate students. 

In addition to her teaching, Dr. Star served on several doctoral committees, faculty committees, and research teams. Her particular research interests included Information worlds and naturalistic studies of information infrastructure; classification and standardization; sociology and history of science, medicine, technology, and information systems; qualitative methods; feminist theory; and sociology of work. Her scholarly work on the broad social perspective on technology and the information needs of a global networked society led to an outstanding reputation both nationally and internationally.

Star joined the faculty in August of 2009; prior to that, she served as a Professor in the Center for Science, Technology and Society at Santa Clara University, California. She also held academic and scholarly positions at the University of California, Irvine; University of Caligari (Italy); University of California at San Diego; and the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Dr. Star was awarded her PhD in Sociology by the University of California, San Francisco.

Star was a co-Principal Investigator or a team member on a number of NSF-funded projects including “Monitoring, Modeling and Memory: Dynamics of Data and Knowledge in Scientific Cyberinfrastructures” and “Towards a Virtual Organization for Data Cyberinfrastructure.” Dr. Star was the editor of Standards and their Stories: How Quantifying, Classifying and Formalizing Practices Shape Everyday Life (Martha Lampland and Leigh Star, eds., Cornell University Press, 2009) and co-author (with Geoffrey Bowker) of Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences (MIT Press, 2000). She had published extensively in academic journals including Ethics and Information Technology, Social Studies of Science, Philosophy of Technology, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, and American Behavioral Scientist. Star served as Co-Editor-In-Chief of Science, Technology and Human Values, the official publication of the Society for the Social Studies of Science. In 2004, Star was elected to the Sociological Research Association, a lifetime achievement honor from the Society for American Sociological Association. 

“The faculty, staff and students of the School of Information Sciences are deeply saddened by the untimely death of Professor Star,” notes Ronald L. Larsen, Dean of the School. “Her impact on the students, her colleagues, and the reputation of the School cannot be measured. She was a leader within the School and the Information Sciences field. She contributed greatly to the intellectual vitality of our School and the University.”