July 2017 – HSS News

HSS Election Results


  • Paola Bertucci
  • Nathaniel Comfort
  • Jacob Darwin Hamlin
  • Elly Truitt
  • Olival Freire

Council Delegate

  • Gabriela Soto Laveaga

Nominating Committee

  • Jahnavi Phalkey
  • Jutta Schikore

Vice President

  • Jan Golinski

Our deep thanks to the nominating committee (chaired by Matthias Dorries, who was joined by Karine Chemla, Anita Guerrini, Asif Siddiqui, and Alex Wellerstein) and to the more than 330 members who voted. We are grateful for the Nominating Committee’s work, for the willingness of all nominees to put their names forward, and for those who volunteer their time for the HSS.

Come to Toronto…. Please

The 2017 HSS Annual meeting will be in the Sheraton Centre Hotel in downtown Toronto, 9-12 November. For registration and hotel reservations, please go to the meeting page at https://hssonline.org/meetings/2017-hssannual-meeting/. Hotel rates are $169 CAD single/double. We will again offer discounted rooms for graduate students (preference going to HSS student members).

HSS and the University of Oklahoma—A Boon to the Bibliographic World

The University of Oklahoma (OU) has hosted the Society’s Bibliographer’s office since John Neu’s retirement, back in the late 1990s. HSS Vice President Bernie Lightman and HSS Executive Director Jay Malone were on the campus 14-15 June 2017 to review the arrangements, to offer their thanks to OU administrators for their support, and to finalize a new 5-year agreement with OU. We are grateful to Hunter Heyck, Chair of the History of Science Department at OU, for his help in arranging the visit.

During our meeting with the University Libraries’ Associate Dean for Knowledge Services and Chief Technology Officer Carl Grant, Lightman, Weldon, and Malone received a hardhat tour of the renovations nearing completion at the library. The new space will enhance collaborative efforts across campus.

Pictured, from left to right are Jay Malone (HSS Executive Director), Bernie Lightman (HSS Vice President), Stephen Weldon (HSS Bibliographer) and Carl Grant, who is the only one who can wear a hard hat with panache.

Pictured, from left to right are Jay Malone (HSS Executive Director),
Bernie Lightman (HSS Vice President), Stephen Weldon (HSS Bibliographer)
and Carl Grant, who is the only one who can wear a hard hat with panache.

A Day at the Isis Office

When you read this, the Isis-in-Utrecht period will have completed its third year and the search for my successor—orchestrated by the Committee on Publications—already in full swing. On earlier occasions, we have sought to give you insights into the basics of how we handle manuscripts and book reviews. But perhaps you are also interested in learning more about what a day at the office looks like. So I have written a paragraph describing my activities on Friday, May 19 (Friday being the day when the entire Isis team is present at the office), and I invited the other team members to add a paragraph each.

Floris CohenH. Floris Cohen, Society Editor

The morning opened with a routine activity: Didi van Trijp, the current Manuscript Assistant, and I reviewed what the mail had brought us since last Tuesday (Didi works on Tuesdays and Fridays), and we worked our way through our survey of manuscripts-in-process that we keep and regularly update. Today was unusual in that no manuscripts were ready for a yes/no/maybe decision; I only had to select suitable referees for two new manuscripts and to decide which referees should receive a reminder for tardy reviews.

I further prepared a list of future Focus, Viewpoint, and Second Look sections, noting down possible subjects, likely contributors, future issues in which these sections might appear, and some, as yet, very crude time lines.

With Ad Maas, one of the book review coeditors, I discussed his problems with a certain reviewer who appeared to have some difficulty describing the book under review. And one of the two book review assistants gave me some valuable information about the contents of a certain volume that had just arrived.

I had a lengthy conversation with Didi and with Desiree, our Managing Editor, about the future archiving of Isis, now that our office has left the paper age almost completely behind. What to preserve for posterity, and in what format? The outcome of some further probing of these questions will be a proposal to the HSS Executive Committee for an updated “memorandum of understanding” with the Smithsonian Institution where, over many decades, Isis materials deemed worthy of preserving have been stored.

Finally, I discussed with Desiree whether, in view of Isis’ contractual number of pages per year (224 plus an 8% penalty-free overage), we can assign four articles, rather than just three, to the upcoming September issue (her final answer proved to be “yes, we can”).

Desiree Capel, Managing Editor

The June issue will be published somewhat earlier than expected, i.e. Thursday 25 May or Friday 26 May. Since this means that we also need to have some Facebook posts ready for publication, I asked Ad Maas (Book Review Co-Editor) if he would have time to prepare some posts for the June issue, which he did. Together with Didi and Anne Knape (Book Review Assistant), we discussed the Isis Facebook and Twitter policy. From now on Anne will be keeping an eye on our Twitter account. We also discussed the possibility of generating publicity for the June Focus section, which was organized by Ad, and for which Lara Bergers (Anne’s predecessor) and Didi wrote an overview.

Back at my own desk, I checked whether the latest items in our financial administration had been allocated to the correct account number. This will save me time when compiling the annual financial statement for Isis-in-Utrecht in September (the Isis financial year runs from 1 July to 30 June).

And then it was time for lunch. Anne and Jeroen Bouterse (Book Review Assistant) had done the shopping for our customary team meal every Friday. We set one of the meeting tables and, over sandwiches and orange juice, discussed Isis matters, chatted, and caught up with each other.

After lunch, Floris, Didi, and I discussed the archiving of Isis material. Now that the number of pages for the June issue is final, I also calculated the total number of pages that have been published during the past year (from 1 July to 30 June): with the new interior and exterior design implemented from the March and June 2015 issues onward, the conversion rate from the number of words in the manuscript pages to the number of printed pages is now pretty reliable. This makes it easier for me to advise Floris, Ad, and Huib Zuidervaart (Book Review Co-Editor) on the number of book reviews and the number of articles that can be allocated to the next issue.

The HSS Editorial Office

The HSS Editorial Office (Please note that the assistants have all been recruited
from History and Philosophy master students and PhD candidates in the history of
science (Jeroen obtained his PhD in 2016). From left to right: Remco de Boer,
former Book Review Assistant; Jeroen Bouterse, Book Review Assistant; Anne Knape,
Book Review Assistant (on the step); Anna Luna Post, future Manuscript
Assistant; Lara Bergers, former Book Review Assistant (on the step); Desiree Capel,
Managing Editor; Huib Zuidervaart, Book Review Editor (on the step);
Didi van Trijp, Manuscript Assistant; Ad Maas, Book Review Editor

Didi van Trijp, Manuscript Assistant

Upon my arrival, Floris and I went over the status of all the manuscripts currently “in process.” Some referees needed to be prodded, whereas other referees received our warm thanks for handing in their reports on time. I also corresponded with an author who had sent me a couple of items required to finalize the publication of his piece. I uploaded all these documents into the Editorial Manager system, so that the whole package could be transferred swiftly to our Manuscript Editor, Joan Vandegrift.

Through this same system a new manuscript had come in. I first checked whether it did not overstep the 15,000 words maximum and whether the text had sufficiently been blinded. After having found all to be in order, I updated the gender survey that we use to track the gender balance in our semi-annual reports to the Executive Committee. I then printed the document and handed it to Floris for perusing (he refuses to read more than a single page from the screen, so this is just about the only piece of paper still around in the office).

After lunch, I discussed matters of archiving with Floris and Desiree, and we decided to tackle this project during the summer when fewer manuscripts generally come in. I also conferred with Ad about the way in which we could highlight the upcoming Focus section on social media, and we drafted a strategy.

Ad Maas, Book Review Co-Editor (post-1800 books)

Where are my reviewers? A large part of my time as book review editor is consumed (perhaps surprisingly so) by the never-ending quest to find the right reviewer(s) for the right book. Today, this is pre-eminently the case. On the one hand, I had only two newly arrived reviews to check. On the other hand, quite a number of books have piled up on the shelves, waiting to be assigned to a reviewer. Unfortunately, about half (I estimate) of my invitations to review books are, on average, declined, so I must select a couple of reviewers per book to make sure that the assistants—who actually send the requests—will succeed in finding a volunteer.

One important resource for finding suitable reviewers is the online membership directory on the HSS website. There, I can select a topic (say physics, or Darwinism) and see which members have tagged this as one of their specializations. These people are potential reviewers. Unfortunately, many members— among whom, I am sure, are many historians of science interested in writing reviews for Isis— have not recorded their fields of specialization. So, if you would like to write a review from time to time, please fill in your research interests (you can check your membership profile here).

Huib Zuidervaart, Book Review Co-Editor (pre-1800 books)

Huib happened to be absent this week, but his experiences are rather similar to those of his colleague Ad Maas.

Jeroen Bouterse, Book Review Assistant

I measure my day with two metrics: the number of books we receive, and the number of books we send out to reviewers. We always try to provide our reviewers with physical review copies. Today is a good day. I have been able to mail 12 books to 11 reviewers, and a batch of books arrived from MIT Press. Each book’s arrival leads to myriad activities: I feed the information into an intricate system of Excel worksheets, log Editorial-Manager entries, place the books on shelves, write post-it notes to our book review coeditors, read post-it notes from our book review co-editors, and employ a variety of rubber bands, springs, and levers.

Since today we have virtually no backlog of unpublished reviews, the main source of stress for the book review department is the question of whether or not we will have enough reviews ready for the next issue of Isis. For me, this means that every new book and every reviewer’s “acceptance” email is a source of great relief and gratitude. The next question is whether or not the book reviewers actually hand in their reviews on time….

Anne Knape, Book Review Assistant

Tardy reviews is where I enter the equation (or rather, the intricate system of Excel worksheets). I “take care” of those who did not manage to present me with their book review before the deadline. By writing firm but polite reminders, a subtle art in which I am hoping to become increasingly well-versed, I make sure that we meet the goals of the book-review section for the corresponding Isis issue. On most occasions it only takes, at most, two reminders, but the record of 11 reminders still holds (at which point me and the book review co-editors get together to decide what the next move is: giving a personal call perhaps?). Today, however, not many reviewers needed reminding so I turned instead to the task of sending publishers copies of the reviews of their books. I frequently play the part of “courier,” since in addition to mailing reviews, I also fetch books from the mail box for Jeroen to send out again later. I pass along the finished reviews to the book review co-editors, who take a closer look at them. Eventually, I can put the final reviews into the folder for the upcoming Isis issue. Although today involved no Tweets, I also manage the Isis Twitter account.

Thank you Greg Macklem!

Anyone who has contacted the Executive Office (or who has attended an HSS meeting) in the past 7 years, will have encountered our Society Coordinator, Greg Macklem. Greg began work with the HSS shortly before the Montreal meeting in 2010, a devilishly difficult conference that featured a hotel lobby renovation, meeting rooms hidden from sight, and a grand reception in the Complexe Desjardins (aka mall)… an experience that likely shaved years off of his life. Somehow, he managed to hang on, improving with each conference and growing to handle every aspect of HSS governance, from bookeeping, to supervising students, to divining the nuances of federal regulations, to helping the Executive Director eliminate headers on the second page of a document.

Greg and Heather Macklem

Greg and Heather Macklem

It is with decidedly mixed feelings that I let you know that Greg has accepted a job with Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives, which is slated to start 1 July. I am verklempt to see him go but this is a wonderful opportunity and I know that he will flourish in his new position. As many of you know, Greg was a high school mathematics teacher before coming to HSS (he loves teaching), and he will be working with math teachers with a focus on high schools with large numbers of students who are typically not well-represented in advanced placement courses (Advanced Placement (AP) is a program in the United States and Canada created by the College Board which offers college-level curricula and examinations to high school students. American colleges and universities may grant placement and course credit to students who obtain high scores on the examinations.) But his new office is just a short walk from the Executive Office, and he has graciously offered to help train the next Coordinator.

Greg has been Society Coordinator far longer than any of his predecessors, and I’m deeply grateful for the work he’s done for the HSS. The good news is that we do not have to tell him good bye. For reasons that defy logic, he plans on attending the Toronto meeting in November, with his lovely wife Heather, so that you may wish him “happy trails” in person.


Left: Pnina Abir-Am, co-organizer of the 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science session “RNA Splicing at 40: Reflections on Scientific Progress, Policy, and Social Justice” with session speaker Ruth Sperling. William Summers, co-organizer of the 2017 AAAS session “RNA Splicing at 40: Reflections on Scientific Progress, Policy, and Social Justice.”

Left: Pnina Abir-Am, co-organizer of the 2017 American Association
for the Advancement of Science session “RNA Splicing at 40: Reflections
on Scientific Progress, Policy, and Social Justice” with session speaker
Ruth Sperling. William Summers, co-organizer of the 2017 AAAS session
“RNA Splicing at 40: Reflections on Scientific Progress, Policy, and
Social Justice.”

William Summers, co-organizer of the 2017 AAAS session “RNA Splicing at 40: Reflections on Scientific Progress, Policy, and Social Justice."

William Summers, co-organizer of the 2017
AAAS session “RNA Splicing at 40:
Reflections on Scientific Progress,
Policy, and Social Justice.”