January 2017 Member News

Tara Abraham’s (University of Guelph) new book, Rebel Genius: Warren S. McCulloch’s
Transdisciplinary Life in Science, was published by MIT Press in October 2016.

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Marco Beretta (University of Bologna) announces the arrival of his new edited collection—with co-editors Maria Conforti and Paolo Mazzarello: Savant Relics: Brains and Remains of Scientists. Science History Publications/USA, 978-88135-235-7.

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Andrew Butrica (Independent Scholar, Research Historian) is researching and writing a history of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), an international society of electrical engineers based in the United States. The book summarizes (and corrects) the histories of IEEE published for its 1984 centennial and carries the narrative up to the present. The project is supported by the Institute (as were the centennial volumes), and is being overseen by an ad hoc committee of long-time Institute members. The manuscript is scheduled to be completed toward the end of Summer 2017 and likely will appear in print toward the end of that year.

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Beginning in January 2017, Maria Conforti will be the new editor of Nuncius: Journal of the Material and Visual History of Science along with a new editorial committee.

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Richard Carrier (Independent Scholar) published Science Education in the Early Roman Empire (Pitchstone 2016), to date the only published book bearing directly on the subject. It is available in print, digital, and audio.

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Andreas Daum (SUNY Buffalo) has been awarded a Baird Society Resident Scholarship for 2017 by the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. He will be working on his monographic project, “Alexander von Humboldt and the Emergence of the Global World.”

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Alice Dreger’s (Independent Scholar) book, Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and One Scholar’s Search for Justice was named Best Book of 2015 by the Society of Midland Authors. In 2016, she was named Henry King Stanford Distinguished Professor by the University of Miami’s Center for the Humanities and presented the Pauline Newman Distinguished Lecture in Science, Technology, and Society at Vassar College and the Korenman Lecture at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. This year she also delivered keynotes for Bessensap (the annual meeting of the Dutch National Research Council and the Dutch Science Journalism Federation), the Canadian Bioethics Society, the Freedom for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) Student Network Conference, the Society for Sex Therapy and Research, the Reproductive Ethics conference at Albany Medical College, and for Intersex Awareness Day at Cal State Northridge.

In 2016, following her viral live-tweeting of her son’s high school sex ed class, by request she composed and published a short book for parents, The Talk—Helping Your Kids Navigate Sex in the Real World, which will soon join Galileo’s Middle Finger at audible.com.

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Krishna Dronamraju’s new biography of Haldane is now published: Popularizing Science: The Life and Work of JBS Haldane, New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.

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On December 1, 2016, Professor Steffen Ducheyne (Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science at the Vrije Universiteit van Brussel) received the Frans Cauwelaert Prize in the domain of the humanities for his work “Aspects of the Development of Scientific Methods from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century.” The Frans Cauwelaert Prize has been awarded by the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts since 1960. In his work, Ducheyne traces the fascinating history of our scientific methods as they were developed by inter alia: Joan Baptista Van Helmont, Galileo Galilei, Robert Boyle, Robert Hooke, Isaac Newton, Willem J. ‘s Gravesande, Pieter van Musschenbroek, William Whewell and John S. Mill. In his work, Ducheyne shows that a universally applicable scientific method did not exist, but rather a concatenation of different problem-solving methods with their own strengths and limitations, which developed dia- and synchronologically. His work testifies to the fruitful combination of the history and the philosophy of science.

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Melinda Gormley has accepted a position as Research Development Officer of the Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences at the University of California, Irvine.

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Samuel Greenblatt (Brown University) gave the Fourth Annual Donald F. Kent Memorial Lecture at the fall meeting of the Medical History Society of New Jersey in Princeton on 26 October 2016. The lecture was titled, “Clinical Neurology, Evolution, and Victorian Brain Science: An Introduction to John Hughlings Jackson.”

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Matthew James is in the final stages of publishing his new book Collecting Evolution: The Galapagos Expedition that Vindicated Darwin. The book will be published by Oxford University Press in April 2017.

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In October 2016, Andrew J. Hogan’s (Creighton University) first book, Life Histories of Genetic Disease: Patterns and Prevention in Postwar Medical Genetics, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

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Gerald Holton (Harvard University) was recently elected to the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

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Layne Karafantis (Johns Hopkins University) received the 2017 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) History Manuscript Award for her dissertation, “Under Control: Constructing the Nerve Centers of the Cold War.” This award recognizes the best historical manuscript dealing with the science, technology, and/or impact of aeronautics and
astronautics on society.

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Ann Hibner Koblitz’s (Arizona State University) article, “Life in the Fast Lane: Arab Women in Science and Technology,” appeared in the June 2016 issue of the Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society. In May 2017, Koblitz will retire from her position in the Women & Gender Studies Program at Arizona State University.

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More than twenty scholars from all over the world participated in the short workshop on Writing the Transnational History of Science and Technology, organized by John Krige (Georgia Tech) back-to-back with the annual HSS meeting in Atlanta. The pre-circulated papers were of a consistently high quality, and produced extensive discussion on the “how” and the “why” of a transnational approach. Participants went away “exhausted but happy” as one of them put it. Thanks to the active participation of Commissioning Editor Margy Avery, a selection of the material is being prepared for publication in 2017 by Amherst College Press.

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In the past year, Pierre Laszlo published multiple works, including:

  • A monthly portrait of an alumnus(a) of the École polytechnique for the magazine, La Jaune et la Rouge.
  • A book review published in Isis, 2016, 107 (4), 896-898.
  • Contributed a chapter on “Nitrocellulose, Under Three Distinct Formulations: Celluloid, Viscose and Cellophane,” to the edited volume From Bench to Brand and Back: The Co-Shaping of Materials and Chemists in the Twentieth Century (Special Issue, Cahiers François Viète, Series III, no. 2, January 2017), edited by Pierre Teissier, C. Mody and Brigitte van Tiggelen.
  • An article on “Tools of Chemistry: The Desreux-Bischoff Viscosimeter,” Bulletin for the History of Chemistry, 2015, 40 (2), 95-102.
  • A chapter on “Educating the Eye: A Personal Memoir,” in the collective book Arte e Ciencia / Ciencia et Arte, edited by Dr. Mendez Rojas, 2016, pp. 27-45.
  • A chapter on the “Structure of the NMR Revolution,” in the edited volume Transformation of Chemistry from the 1920s to the 1960s, edited by Masanori Kaji, Yasi Furukawa, Hiroaki Tanaka, Yoshiyuki Kikuchi (Tokyo: Japanese Society for the History of Chemistry, Tokyo, 2016), pp. 113-121.

Laszlo also participated in the jury of the Franco-American Franklin-Lavoisier Prize, awarded in 2016 to Professor Lawrence M. Principe (Johns Hopkins University). In the spring, Laszlo gave a talk on the “Neurochemistry of cognitive loss in the elderly and self-estrangement in Samuel Beckett’s writings” at a conference on ageing brains and minds in Paris. He also spoke on Paul von Ragué Schleyer’s Princeton years at a memorial meeting in Erlangen, Germany in Schleyer’s honor, and participated in a symposium on posthumous Nobel prizes during the national meeting of the American Chemical Society, held by the Division of the History of Chemistry, in which he presented the merits of Howard E. Simmons, Jr. This contribution became a chapter in a book edited by E. T. Strom, in the ACS Symposium series.

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Adrienne Mayor (Stanford University) published “Warrior Women: The Archaeology
of Amazons,” a chapter in Women in Antiquity, ed. J. Turfa and S. Budin (Routledge, 2016);
the Foreword for John Colarusso, Nart Sagas from the Caucasus (Princeton University Press,
2016); “Amazons in Iranian Culture and Persian Literature,” entry in Encyclopaedia Iranica; and “Mithridatic Wars, Historical Introduction,” in Ancient Warfare 10 (July-Aug 2016).

Her book The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World is being
translated into Spanish, French, and Italian; her biography of Mithradates, The Poison King, is being translated into Spanish. She presented two lectures at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in October 2016 and is currently the consultant for the international TV series “Warrior Women,” for Urban Canyons/Smithsonian.

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Charles W. Misner (University of Maryland) participated in a University of Maryland (UMD) celebration of gravitational waves on 1 November 2016. The panel discussion, which emphasized the UMD contributions to the detection of gravitational waves and discovery of black hole mergers, is available for viewing at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuymKUszdxo. Two of the founders of LIGO (Thorne and Weiss) spoke and included memories of early contributions by Joseph Weber and other UMD faculty and students, including Misner and his students.

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Catherine L. Newell (University of Miami) was awarded the David B. Larson Fellowship in Health and Spirituality at the Library of Congress. As a fellow, she will be researching and working at the John W. Kluge Center on the way in which individuals use science to justify a diet and/or lifestyle, and identify themselves not by a religious practice but by a science-based diet such as vegan, gluten-free, etc.

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Kathryn M. Olesko (Georgetown University) was elected Fellow of the American Physical
Society “for foundational contributions to the history of physics pedagogy and prolific editorial work in service of the history of science.”

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David Orenstein (Toronto District School Board, retired) is in his fifth year of retirement and continues to pursue the history of Canadian Science locally, nationally and internationally. He is now the Treasurer of his Toronto neighborhood’s Riverdale Historical Society where he has arranged the upcoming talk, “Toronto’s Astronomical Heritage,” by John Percy (University of Toronto). Through the University of Toronto College Alumni Association, Orenstein successfully nominated Clarence Chant (1865-1956) as a UC Alumnus of Influence. Chant was formally inducted at a banquet on Wednesday, 16 November 2016, and David Orenstein was Chant’s stand-in as the inductees were piped into the baronial splendour of the Great Hall, Hart House. Orenstein was also a Canadian representative on the Programme Committee for the highly successful Three Societies Meeting (CSHPS – BSHS – HSS) in Edmonton, Alberta from 22-25 June 2016.

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Mike Osborne (Oregon State University) has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science “for distinguished contributions to the fields of the history of science and medicine with particular attention to the role of French colonialism and natural history.”

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J. Brian Pitts’ (University of Cambridge) recent paper shows the surprising relevance of particle physics to the history of general relativity. It is titled “Einstein’s Physical Strategy, Energy Conservation, Symmetries, and Stability: ‘but Grossmann & I believed that the conservation laws were not satisfied,'” Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 54 (2016) pp. 52-72.

Another paper demonstrated the unexpected relevance of the history of General Relativity to particle physics: “Einstein’s Equations for Spin 2 Mass 0 from Noether’s Converse Hilbertian Assertion,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 56 (2016) pp. 60-69.

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Lawrence M. Principe (Johns Hopkins University) was awarded the Prix Franklin-Lavoisier, a prize for substantial contributions to the history of chemistry, given every two years by the Fondation de la Maison de la Chimie and the Chemical Heritage Foundation. The prize was conferred at a special ceremony in Paris on 9 November 2016.

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Gregory Radick (University of Leeds) has been awarded a two-year Major Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust. During the fellowship period he will be working on a book manuscript on the Mendelian turn in biology and its legacies.

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Pedro Raposo (Adler Planetarium) served as a curator and content lead for a temporary exhibit
held at the Adler Planetarium. It has been awarded First Prize in the Great Exhibitions competition of the British Society for the History of Science (BSHS).

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Neeraja Sankaran (Independent Scholar) published multiple articles this past year:

  • Sankaran, Neeraja, and Ton van Helvoort. 2016. “Andrewes’s Christmas Fairy Tale: Atypical Thinking about Cancer Aetiology in 1935.” Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 70 (2): 175–201.
  • Sankaran, Neeraja. 2016. “Essay Review: Stage-Hands, Make-up Artists, and Other
    Backstage Characters in the Drama of Science.” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 38
    (4): 19.
  • Sankaran, Neeraja. 2016. “The RNA World at Thirty: A Look Back with Its Author.” Journal of Molecular Evolution. [http://rdcu.be/mNgq].

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Carlos Eduardo Sierra C. (Universidad Nacional de Colombia) published multiple articles this past year including:

  • “La dimensión ética de las armas deportivas,” in Revista de Bioética Latinoamericana (Universidad de los Andes, Venezuela) vol. 18, no. 1 (September 2016-February 2017).
  • Articles on the history of astronomy in the following issues of the Circular de la Red de Astronomía de Colombia: nos. 845, 847, 849, 851, 853, 855, 857, 859, 861, 863, 865, 867, 869, 871 (all 2016).
  • “Universidad como si importasen las leyes naturales: Implicaciones de la economía alternativa,” in Red Universidad Nómada, 17 August 2016.
  • “Karl Raimund Popper y la ética,” in Red Universidad Nómada, 28 September 2016.
  • “Cajal y el síndrome de visibilidad,” in: Comarca (Asociación Promoción Integral de Ayerbe y Comarca, APIAC, Spain), No. 90 (July-September 2016).
  • A booklet, “La dimensión ética de la ciencia ficción y la mitopoeia,” in: Etices: Boletín trimestral de Bioética: Universidad CES (Colombia), Vol. 6, No. 3, July-September 2014.

He has also given the following talks at conferences:

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Betty Smocovitis (University of Florida) has been named the Kosciuszko Foundation Visiting Professor at the University of Warsaw for the spring and summer 2017. She has been appointed in the Kolegium Artes Liberales, and will work with the director to design a curriculum in the history of science that will bridge the sciences and the humanities. The University of Warsaw is the largest university in Poland with a distinguished list of alumni and faculty, along with a highly ranked series of research programs.

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Kara W. Swanson is enjoying a post-tenure sabbatical year from her position as Professor of Law at Northeastern University and is in residence as a NEH Long-term Fellow at the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) in Boston, MA. Members should note that the MHS funds both short-term and longterm fellowships, and provides numerous opportunities for grad students, academics, and independent scholars to discuss and present work at evening seminar series. For more information visit http://www.masshist.org/research/community.

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In July 2016, Mary Terrall (UCLA) was awarded the 2015 Thackray Medal from the Society for the History of Natural History for Catching Nature in the Act: Réaumur and the Practice of Natural History in the Eighteenth Century (University of Chicago Press, 2014).

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Last spring, Jeremy Vetter (University of Arizona) was promoted to Associate Professor of History. In late October 2016, his book Field Life: Science in the American West during the Railroad Era was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

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Matthew A. White graduated with his PhD in the History of Science from the University of Florida and joined the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum as the Director of Education.

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In Memoriam: Michele Aldrich

6 October 1942 — 23 November 2016

It is with sadness that we announce that Michele La Clergue Aldrich died on Wednesday, 23 November 2016 at Baystate Hospital, Massachusetts, after a short illness. We will publish a memorial piece in a future Newsletter.