Natalie Aviles

BA: University of California, Berkeley, Sociology

MA: University of California, San Diego, Sociology

Areas of specialization: theory; science, knowledge, and technology; culture; comparative and historical methods


In my dissertation, I apply insights from cultural sociologists inspired by American pragmatism to extend process theories of organization, developing a framework for analyzing the importance of organizational culture to virus-cancer research in the US National Cancer Institute. I construct a single-case temporal comparison of two historical periods to show how local cultural idioms emergent from ongoing organizational practices help explain the shape of biomedical knowledge (by enabling stable interpretations of which viruses were most promising for study in the 1960s and 1970s), and technology (by shaping the possibilities for producing HPV vaccines in the 1990s and 2000s). My work contributes to the literature on cultural and historical sociology by offering a coherent theoretical framework that builds upon pragmatist social theory and event-based theories of organization, while also addressing a notable lacuna in social studies of science, technology, and medicine related to the role of organizations in biomedical knowledge production.

Other Projects

I am collaborating with Isaac Ariail Reed on a paper addressing mechanistic explanation in sociology.Other ongoing projects consider the relationship between science and technology studies and pragmatism, and explore methodological debates in history and sociology over the use of counterfactual reasoning in causal explanation.

Select Publications

2015. Aviles, Natalie B. “The little death: Rigoni-Stern and the problem of sex and cancer in twentieth century biomedical research.” Social Studies of Science 45(3): 394-415.

  • Winner of the 2015 Hacker-Mullins Student Paper Award, Science, Knowledge, and Technology Section. American Sociological Association.

Graduate Students