Updated on March 16, 2018
Sandra D. Mitchell ’73 is an influential scholar whose work has fundamentally changed the field of philosophy of science. Mitchell explores how contemporary science explains complexities in nature, such as the role genes play in psychiatric disorders and the interrelated phenomena contributing to global climate change.
Mitchell said she was delighted to be selected for Pitzer’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
“Before Pitzer, I hadn’t thought about becoming a professor—I didn’t know that a life of learning was something I could do,” Mitchell said. “This award means that the seeds of the academic achievements that were sown in my years as an undergraduate continue to be valued and recognized by the institution that was instrumental in putting me on that path.”
Mitchell is a professor and chair of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. She has published several books, including Biological Complexity and Integrative Pluralism and Unsimple Truths: Science, Complexity and Policy. Her scholarly articles have appeared in both science and philosophy journals. Mitchell has been a fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne. She is a member of the University of Pennsylvania’s Provost’s Advisory Committee on Women’s Concerns and the only non-scientist on the Annual Meeting Scientific Program Committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Mitchell majored in philosophy at Pitzer. She earned her master’s in philosophy, logic and the scientific method at the London School of Economics and a PhD in history and philosophy of science at the University of Pittsburgh.