Professor Gieryn received the B.A. Magna Cum Laude from Kalamazoo College (1972) and the Ph.D. in Sociology from Columbia University in New York (1980). He joined the Department of Sociology at IU in 1978, and has also taught at Nankai University (Tianjin, China) and at Cornell University. In 1996-97, Professor Gieryn was The Ralph and Doris Hansmann Member in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.
Professor Gieryn's research centers on the sociology of science: how can science be understood as a social, cultural, historical and human endeavor? His earliest work focused on problem-choice: how scientists go about choosing problems for investigation. He then turned his attention to the cultural authority of science as an institution. Why is scientific knowledge routinely accepted as credible? Most recently, Professor Gieryn has investigated the epistemic significance of place. Of what consequence are geographic location and even architecture for the process of knowledge-making? His book, Cultural Boundaries of Science: Credibility On the Line, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 1999, and won the Robert K. Merton Book Award from the Section on Science, Knowledge and Technology of the American Sociological Association (incidentally, a prize named for Professor Gieryn's mentor at Columbia).
His research has been supported by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Science Foundation. In 1990-94, Professor Gieryn served on the Advisory Board of the exhibition on "Science in American Life" at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. He has been awarded the Edwin H. Sutherland Teaching Award from the Department of Sociology (1982), and the President's Award for Distinguished Teaching (1994). Professor Gieryn was appointed Rudy Professor of Sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences in 2000.
In 2020, Thomas Gieryn was presented the Bicentennial Medal for his distinguished service to Indiana University.