Whose Work Matters?

Programs, Lectures & Talks
Saturday, June 4, 2022
3:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.
Science History Institute
315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
United States

Any scientific innovation takes a village, whether it’s testing ideas, building on past theories, or literally building the equipment. And yet, we often focus on the achievement of one brilliant individual who receives the rewards, accolades, and compensation.

So whose work matters? Why do some kinds of scientific labor get more value? And has it always been this way?

Join us for a lively roundtable discussion about these ideas. We’ll share stories from history and compelling moments from the film, Cyclotron, a documentary about the world’s oldest functional particle accelerator and the team in India who put it together and keeps it running. After the program, keep the conversation going with light refreshments in our courtyard.

This event is free but registration is required.


Jesse Smith
Research Curator, Science History Institute


Alex Palma
Assistant Director, The Carpenters’ Company
Alex Palma is assistant director of the Carpenters’ Company of the City and County of Philadelphia. He has been a National History Day judge since 2017, serves as vice-chair of the Delaware Valley Archivists Group, and is a member at large of the Museum Council of Greater Philadelphia. Alex is also on the organizing committee of Archives for Black Lives in Philadelphia.

Jahnavi Phalkey
Director, Science Gallery Bengaluru, and director of Cyclotron
Jahnavi Phalkey is a historian of science and filmmaker. Currently founding director of Science Gallery Bengaluru, she is the author of Atomic State: Big Science in Twentieth Century India and producer-director of the documentary film Cyclotron.

Roger Turner
Research Curator, Science History Institute
Roger Turner is a museum curator at the Science History Institute. His most recent digital exhibition is Critical Metals: The Chemistry of Light.


About the Gordon Cain Conference

This public event is being held as part of the 2022 Gordon Cain Conference, Let’s Get to Work: Bringing Labor History and the History of Science Together, taking place June 2–4, 2022.

The Gordon Cain Conference is a gathering of scholars in the history of science and related fields. Each conference is organized by an eminent scholar who worked with staff to develop a theme of broad contemporary relevance. Centered on a topic chosen by the conference organizer, the conference consists of an evening public lecture, a symposium, and a collected volume. It is hosted by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry and supported by a generous gift from Gordon Cain.