Ohio University

Victoria Lee

Victoria Lee Profile Picture
Assistant Professor
Bentley Annex

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  • Ph.D. in History, Princeton University
  • M.A. in History, Princeton University
  • M.Sc. in History of Science, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of London
  • B.A. in Physics, University of Cambridge


  • Science and Technology; Modern Period
  • Japan
  • East Asia; Environment; Craft and Political Economy

Victoria Lee is an assistant professor in the History Department. Her research focuses on the role of Japan in 20th and 21st century science and technology. Her current book project, “The Arts of the Microbial World: A History of Japanese Fermentation Science,” looks at Japanese society’s engagement with microbes in science, industry and environmental management. It explores why fermentation expanded beyond small-scale traditional manufactures to take special prominence in food, resources, and medicine in Japan, addressing scientists’ and technicians’ role in defining the texture of everyday life and material culture as an aspect of political economy. She is also beginning a second project on the history of environmental chemistry.

Before coming to Athens, Lee spent 2014-16 as a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, Germany. Previously she has taught at Rutgers University. She is a native of Toronto, Ontario.


Wild Toxicity, Cultivated Safety: Aflatoxin and Kōji Classification as Knowledge Infrastructure,” History and Technology 35 (2019): 405-424.

Microbial Transformations: The Japanese Domestication of Penicillin Production, 1946-1951,” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 48 (2018): 441-474. (awarded the Zhu Kezhen Junior Award by the International Society for the History of East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine)

“The Microbial Production of Expertise in Meiji Japan,” Osiris 2nd Ser. 33 (2018): 171-190.

“Unraveling the Search for Microbial Control in Twentieth-Century Pandemics,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 53 (2015): 122-125.

“Mold Cultures: Traditional Industry and Microbial Studies in Early Twentieth-Century Japan,” in New Perspectives on the History of Life Sciences and Agriculture, eds. Denise Phillips and Sharon Kingsland (Cham: Springer, 2015), 231-252.


Professor Lee teaches a variety of courses in the history of science and technology and Japanese history, as well as interdisciplinary courses in the themes initiative in the College of Arts & Sciences. Her courses include:

  • HIST 2905: Technology in World History
  • HIST 3481/5481: Modern Japan
  • HIST 3500: Science and Society in the Modern World
  • HIST 3550: The Age of Darwin, 1800-Present
  • CAS 2405: Knowing What We Know