April 2016 News from the Profession

The 25th ICHST Meeting in Rio de Janeiro

The 25th International Congress of History of Science and Technology (ICHST) will be located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 23 to 29 July 2017. The meeting will be held on the Praia Vermelha campus of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). This 25th ICHST will hold the general theme of “Science, Technology and Medicine between the Global and the Local.” If you intend to submit a Symposium proposal, the call for Symposia is already open, but it will close on Saturday, 30 April 2016. The call for Individual Paper (Stand-alone Paper) presentations will be open by Sunday, 1 May 2016, and the deadline for proposal submissions is Wednesday, 30 November 2016.

ISH in Brazil, 16-21 July 2017

The International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology will coordinate its 2017 meeting with the International Congress of the History of Science and Technology. ISH will meet in São Paulo, the week prior to the ICSHT meeting in Rio de Janeiro. Further information on the meeting can be found at http://www.ishpssb.org/announcements/148-ishpssb-2017-meeting.

Chemical Heritage Foundation of Philadelphia Merges with San Francisco’s Life Sciences Foundation

The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) officially merged with the Life Sciences Foundation (LSF) on 1 Dec 2015. Headquartered in Philadelphia, the new organization is dedicated to explaining the simple truism: science has a past and our future depends on it. This union creates an internationally unique institute committed to examining the history of science and its role in shaping society. The boards of both organizations approved the plan in October 2015.

The two institutions shared a founder, Arnold Thackray, a former Editor of the History of Science Society, as well as missions to collect and share the history of science and technology. CHF has traditionally focused on the whole of the chemical sciences and technologies, while LSF was more targeted in its studies, concentrating on the history of the last forty years of work in biotechnology. The merger puts into action CHF president Carsten Reinhardt’s ambition to push CHF’s historical scholarship into the late 20th century and beyond.

Approximately two years ago, leadership in both organizations expressed an interest in working together more closely and talks between the two began. By spring 2015 it was clear that plans and ambitions on both sides were remarkably similar. “Of course we could do it alone,” said Reinhardt, “but what sense does it make to compete? Why shouldn’t we share resources?” Building on this idea, leadership on both sides decided to bring the two organizations together. The new institute will sustain programs formerly undertaken independently by each entity and elevate them to a higher level of effectiveness, efficiency, and visibility.

The new organization will continue to explore the interaction of engineering, technology, and industry with science. The goal remains to reveal science and technology’s evolution, their cultural role, and their crucial importance for our future. Our mission is to curate and share the history of science and technology. We establish and care for collections of historical documents and artifacts. We interpret the past in order to understand the present and inform the future. We tell the stories of discovery and innovation and feature the people—scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and others—who have helped make this history through their actions and their influence.

ACLS Announces Burkhardt Fellowships

The American Council of Learned Societies is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars. This year saw a significant expansion of the Burkhardt fellowship program, as ACLS doubled the number of awards to provide additional opportunities for faculty at liberal arts colleges. The program is made possible by the generous assistance of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Burkhardt Fellowships support recently tenured faculty as they pursue long-term, unusually ambitious research at a consequential stage of their scholarly careers. The fellowship, which carries a $75,000 stipend and a $5,000 research budget, allows awardees to take up year-long residencies at institutions whose resources and scholarly communities are ideally suited to facilitate the proposed research project. These residencies may take place at one of 13 national and international research centers that partner with ACLS for this program. Starting this year, applicants from liberal arts colleges also could propose residencies at university humanities centers or academic departments. The new opportunities offer a flexible set of residency options for college faculty while encouraging greater collaboration and exchange between liberal arts colleges and research university communities.

“Since its beginning 17 years ago, the Burkhardt Fellowship program has become synonymous with the best interdisciplinary humanities scholarship, and has fostered the careers of scholars who have become leaders in their fields and in the broader academy as well,” said ACLS Director of Fellowship Programs Matthew Goldfeder. “This year’s expanded roster of Burkhardt fellows is poised to extend the distinguished record of the program while helping to build scholarly networks across diverse institutions.”

Burkhardt Fellows in the history of science, technology, or medicine, along with project titles, and residency locations are listed below. Further information on this year’s Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellows is available here.

  • Shawn Bender (Associate Professor of East Asian Studies, Dickinson College) Engineering the Aging Society: Robotics, Vital Futures, and Imaginations of Life in Japan and Europe – Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University in 2017-18
  • Ernesto Capello (Associate Professor of History, Macalester College) Equator Imagined: Commemorating Geodesic Science in the Andes – Institute of Latin American Studies at Columbia University in 2017-18
  • Ian W. Olivo Read (Associate Professor of International Studies, Soka University of America) Brazil’s Era of Epidemics: How Disease Transformed a Nation – Department of History at the University of California, Berkeley in 2016-17.

The fellowships are named for the late Frederick Burkhardt, president emeritus of ACLS, whose decades of work on The Correspondence of Charles Darwin constitute a signal example of dedication to a demanding and ambitious scholarly enterprise. Contact: Matthew Goldfeder, mgoldfeder@acls.org, 212-697-1505 x124

The American Council of Learned Societies, a private, nonprofit federation of 73 national scholarly organizations, is the preeminent representative of American scholarship in the humanities and related social sciences. Advancing scholarship by awarding fellowships and strengthening relations among learned societies is central to ACLS’s work. This year, ACLS will award more than $16 million to over 300 scholars across a variety of humanistic disciplines.

Four Pioneering Scientists to Discuss “The Origins of the RNA World”

Four pioneers of science, who have played major roles in developing key models for the origins of life, were interviewed in a program at the Library of Congress on March 17. The scientists are Nobel Prize winner Walter Gilbert, W. Ford Doolittle, George Fox and Ray Gesteland.

Nathaniel Comfort, the NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology at the Library’s John W. Kluge Center, interviewed the scientists in a presentation titled “The Origins of the RNA World.” The Kluge Center sponsored the event as part of its joint NASA/Library of Congress Astrobiology Program.

The scientists have conducted research into the RNA world—the world at the dawn of life, before DNA, nearly four billion years ago. Comfort interviewed the scholars about their roles in developing key models for the origins of life, on Earth and beyond.

The event was structured as a witness seminar-style oral history, where several people associated with a particular set of circumstances or events are invited to meet together to discuss, debate, and even disagree about their reminiscences. The format was originally developed by the Institute of Contemporary British History at King’s College and inaugurated by the Wellcome Trust in 1990. Audience questions were included.

Gilbert is a 1980 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry and a University Professor at Harvard University. Doolittle is a Professor Emeritus at Dalhousie University. Fox is a Professor at the University of Houston and Gesteland is a distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Utah.

Comfort is a historian of recent science and a professor at the Institute of the History of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University. His books include The Science of Human Perfection: How Genes Became the Heart of American Medicine (2012) and The Tangled Field: Barbara McClintock’s Search for the Patterns of Genetic Control (2001).

The program is part of the Kluge Center’s ongoing Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Astrobiology Program, which investigates the intersection of astrobiology research with humanistic and societal concerns. A senior scholar position at the Kluge Center, the astrobiology chair was previously held by planetary scientist Dr. David Grinspoon and astronomer Dr. Steven Dick. An appointment for 2017 will be announced soon.

The astrobiology chair is the result of collaboration between the NASA Astrobiology Program and the Library of Congress. Funded by NASA, and executed by the Kluge Center in consultation with the NASA Astrobiology Institute, the program makes it possible for a senior researcher to be in residence at the Kluge Center, to make use of the Library of Congress collections, and to convene programs that ensure the subject of astrobiology’s role in culture and society receives considered treatment each year in Washington, D.C.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources, and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/kluge/.

The Library of Congress, the largest library in the world, holds more than 162 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its website at www.loc.gov.

IsisCB Explore History of Science Index

Please consider using the IsisCB Explore History of Science Index for your research, and encourage your library or department to add it to their list of resources. Accessible to anyone on the web, IsisCB Explore is a completely open access service made possible by the History of Science Society with support from the University of Oklahoma and the Sloan Foundation.

IsisCB Explore opens up bibliographical research in the history of science, technology, and medicine. It is designed for students, scholars, librarians, and the general public. Users will find the data architecture intuitive and powerful, and librarians can trust that it will guide researchers to the best literature in the discipline.

Based on the 100-year-old Isis Current Bibliography of the History of Science—the largest and most comprehensive in its field—it is supported by the discipline’s flagship society, the History of Science Society. It will be expanded and updated annually.

Key features include:

  • Nearly 200,000 interlinked bibliographic citations to books, chapters, articles, dissertations, and reviews from the Isis Bibliography of the History of Science 1974 to present. Annually updated.
  • An authority index of over 150,000 curated entries. Includes historical concepts, persons, and institutions. Also indexes scholars, publishers, journals, and degree granting institutions.
  • A navigation interface built specifically for history of science research. Enables focused searches on ancient, medieval, modern and non-Western topics.
  • A state-of-the-art network architecture with complex interlinking of citation and authority records.
  • Integrated social media tools, including public user comments as well as Twitter and Facebook sharing.
  • User accounts with the ability to save searches.
  • Zotero integration. Allows users to save individual citations as well as collected results.
  • Automated access, with a REST API.
  • A search widget for your website.
  • Coming soon: A link resolver, giving library patrons immediate access to their library’s holdings.

There are some instructional videos on the IsisCB Explore YouTube Channel. The introductory video gives you a quick overview. You can find more information about the history of the Isis Bibliography on the main site: isiscb.org. Contact Stephen Weldon (spweldon@ou.edu) with questions. And please see the article on the IsisCB that appears in this Newsletter.

The HPS&ST Note

The newsletter of the Inter-Divisional Teaching Commission of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science History and Philosophy of Science Teaching Group can be found at: http://www.idtc-iuhps.com/ in the HPS&ST Note folder.

This HPS&ST monthly note is sent to about 6,600 individuals who directly or indirectly have an interest in the connections of history and philosophy of science with theoretical, curricular and pedagogical issues in science teaching, and/or interests in the promotion of more engaging and effective teaching of the history and philosophy of science. The note is sent on to different HPS lists and to science teaching lists.

The note seeks to serve the diverse international community of HPS&ST scholars and teachers by disseminating information about events and publications that connect to HPS&ST concerns. It is an information list, not a discussion list.

Contributions to the note (publications, conferences etc.) are welcome and should be sent direct to the editor: Michael R. Matthews, UNSW, m.matthews@unsw.edu.au.

Letter from the COSSA Executive Director on the U.S.’s 2017 Budget

(The following letter, from the Executive Director of the Consortium of Social Science Associations, of which HSS is a member, may be of interest to our members.)

President Obama released his fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget request to Congress on February 9. I am pleased to send you COSSA’s in-depth analysis of the FY 2017 budget request, which includes details on the President’s proposals for the dozens of departments, agencies, and programs of interest to social and behavioral science researchers.

The request proposes increases for many of the federal agencies and programs important to the COSSA community, though not all. The big question now is whether Congress will muster the political will in this election year to pass any of the spending bills before October 1.

With the release of the President’s budget, the FY 2017 appropriations process now heads into high gear. [For updates, go to cossa.org.]

Warm regards,
Wendy A. Naus
COSSA Executive Director

New Darwin Letters Website

12 Feb 2016 would have been Charles Darwin’s 207th birthday, and to mark the occasion the Darwin Correspondence Project has launched a new website (www.darwinproject.ac.uk). The letters to and from Darwin for the year 1871 are online for the first time. There is a brand new search engine, a lot of new content on correspondents and themes, and new resources for primary schools. Comments are welcome.

Latest Dissertations in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology

This list is prepared by Jonathan Erlen (University of Pittsburgh); we are grateful for his work. The dissertations can be found at the following links:

Registration Open—Three Societies Meeting: BSHS, CSHPS, HSS

Register now for the Three Societies Meeting. This Eighth Joint Meeting of the British Society for the History of Science, the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science, and the History of Science Society brings together historians of science every four years for a major international conference. This conference will take place 22-25 June 2016, at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

We are excited to welcome you to Edmonton, capital of the Province of Alberta and one of Canada’s major cities. June is an ideal time to visit Edmonton, one of the sunniest places in Canada, with over 17 hours of daylight at the summer solstice and average temperatures of 22C/72F. Edmonton is also known as a Festival City—during June we have The Works Art and Design Festival (June 17-29), The Edmonton International Jazz Festival (June 17-26), and Free Will Players (Shakespeare in the park—Romeo and Juliet and Love’s Labour’s Lost—June 21–July 17).

We have an exciting program taking shape. There are a wide range of affordable housing options, and lots of time to meet your fellow historians of science in a relaxed atmosphere.

We are planning a wonderful reception in our newly renovated Art Gallery (exhibitions planned include 7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. and Unvarnished Truth: Exploring the Material History of Painting). And a great final banquet—and we promise no speeches!

You can access the special conference rates for the hotels both before and after the conference (from June 19-27), in case you want to do a bit more exploring. We will also provide you with links to make your own arrangements for other travel in the area such as: to the Rocky Mountains and Jasper, Banff, Lake Louise or the Columbia Icefields; to the Alberta Badlands and Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum; or to the Oil Sands in Fort McMurray.

Register at https://uofa.ualberta.ca/arts/research/3-societies-meeting.

Early bird rates until 15 April 2016. Great exchange rates for our American and British attendees!

President of ACLS Honored by Notre Dame

Pauline Yu, President of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), will receive an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from the University of Notre Dame at the school’s spring commencement. A tireless advocate for the importance of humanistic scholarship in the contemporary world, Yu has served since 2003 as president of ACLS, a private, nonprofit federation of 73 national scholarly organizations that is the preeminent representative of American scholarship in the humanities and related social sciences. The History of Science Society has been a member of the ACLS since 1927. She previously served at the University of California, Los Angeles, as dean of humanities in the College of Letters and Science and professor of East Asian languages and cultures. Prior to that appointment, she was founding chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature at the University of California, Irvine, and on the faculties of Columbia University and the University of Minnesota. The daughter of two physicians from China, Yu was raised in Rochester, New York, and earned her bachelor’s degree in history and literature from Harvard University and her master’s and doctoral degrees in comparative literature from Stanford University.

The author or editor of five books and dozens of articles on classical Chinese poetry, literary theory, comparative poetics and issues in the humanities, she has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The University of Notre Dame has served as the host for the HSS’s Executive Office since 2010—a partnership that has been richly rewarding for the Society.