About Elizabeth Paris

The Elizabeth Paris Endowment for Socially Engaged History and Philosophy of Science

parisThe Elizabeth Paris Endowment for Socially Engaged History and Philosophy of Science honors the life of Elizabeth Paris (September 4, 1968 – November 28, 2009). Elizabeth gave passionately of herself in whatever she did, and she truly enjoyed bringing people together. As a scholar, she was committed to integrating the intellectual side of the history and philosophy of science with their social, institutional, and policy aspects. In celebration of her life and values,  the History of Science Society is establishing the Elizabeth Paris Endowment for Socially Engaged History and Philosophy of Science.

Elizabeth grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she attended Seven Hills School. At Stanford University (Class of 1990), she majored in drama and astrophysics; she also participated in theatrical productions and managed a rock band. In this rich environment, she discovered the joys of combining her technical knowledge of physics with historical research. She went on to receive her Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 1999, with a dissertation titled “Ringing in the New Physics: The Politics and Technology of Electron Colliders in the United States, 1956-1972,”—a project that sought to integrate “the personal, professional, institutional, and material worlds” of modern particle physics. She then taught history of science at Harvard, held a Dibner postdoctoral fellowship at MIT, and conducted research for the official history of the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago.

In 2001 she moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where she continued her work on the Argonne history and married Jay Barnet. They had two children, Zachary and Elysha, and Elizabeth became deeply involved with Attachment Parenting International and the La Leche League. She also played a central role in the Hillsboro-West End neighborhood organization, where she was treasured for her innovative ideas and her neighborhood advocacy work. Elizabeth died after a long struggle with cancer in late 2009; in 2010, the association renamed their good neighbor award in her honor.

The Endowment

The aim of the Endowment is to use the history and philosophy of science to enrich society. Ethical and religious values, cultural and political assumptions, and institutional history—all these shape decisions about science today. The presentation of science inside and outside the classroom reflects more than scientific content; it reveals the cultural values of the presenters. The same is true for the funding of scientific research.  Historians and philosophers of science are ideally positioned to help people understand the breadth of considerations that go into the development of science, and to use an understanding of the past to shape our future.

To this end, we expect the Endowment to provide for a regular public event at the HSS annual meetings.  The specific form of the event may vary–a public lecture, a forum for policy-makers to come together with historians and philosophers of science, or a family-friendly set of events engaging with the history of science would all be appropriate. The Endowment will thereby bring to a wider public an understanding of the value of the history and philosophy of science. More broadly, it will help further the mission of the newly established HSS-PSA Joint Caucus of Socially Engaged Philosophers and Historians of Science. Elizabeth’s legacy will be honoured in these ways by bringing together individuals who share an interest in the social relevance of the history and philosophy of science.

How to Give

To donate online, please CLICK HERE for more information.

For a list of donors and their connections to Elizabeth Paris, click here.