In 1997, Peter Galison was named a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow; in 1999, he was a winner of the Max Planck Prize given by the Max Planck Gesellschaft and Humboldt Stiftung. Galison is interested in the intersection of philosophical and historical questions such as these: What, at a given time, convinces people that an experiment is correct? How do scientific subcultures form interlanguages of theory and things at their borders?

More broadly, Galison's main work explores the complex interaction between the three principal subcultures of twentieth century physics—experimentation, instrumentation, and theory. In addition, Galison has launched several projects examining the powerful cross-currents between science and other fields.