October 2015 Newsletter

Welcome to San Francisco

Welcome to San Francisco

The St. Francis Hotel is centrally located on Powell Street next to Union Square. It is surrounded in every direction by ethnically diverse areas with museums, shops, and restaurants. To get a sense of the landscape, here is a basic breakdown of some of the main neighborhoods in San Francisco and the directions to them from the hotel.

Is Membership an Anachronism?

I joined the History of Science Society nearly a quarter century ago (gulp!). The incentives were pretty clear. I liked coming to the meetings, and members paid a smaller registration fee. (They still do.) As I had trained in another discipline, the affiliation itself mattered to me.

Notes from the Inside: We Are More than Images and Voices

The 14 Sept 2015 issue of the New Yorker was of special interest because it contained an essay by the late Oliver Sacks, the neuro-scientist and writer who transformed how we think about others. An example of his influence was evident in an article in that same issue by Atul Gawande, also a physician, who described some of the ways that the good doctor Sacks had touched his life, especially the importance of “seeing” others.

Interview: Joan Vandegrift

Last year, during the first HSS annual meeting since Isis had moved to Utrecht, The Netherlands, we were notified that 2015 would be the year our Manuscript Editor Joan Vandegrift would celebrate her 30th anniversary with the journal. Since we could not let this event pass unnoticed, we invited Joan to tell us something about her experiences over the past three decades.

HSS’s Director/Empress of Media and Engagement

People often ask me what I do. When I tell them that I coordinate outreach and communications for Notre Dame’s Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values and also hold the position of Director of Media and Engagement for the History of Science Society, they tend to wander away very confused.

Interview: Alice Dreger

In an April 2015 issue, The New York Times called historian Alice Dreger “a sharp, disruptive scholar” and her new book, Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science (Penguin Press, 2015) “a splendidly entertaining education in ethics, activism and science.” Since then, she’s received international coverage for memorably Tweeted thoughts from her son’s sex education class and resigning her position at Northwestern University following a dispute over academic freedom with her dean. We caught up with her in the midst of her very busy speaking, research, and writing schedule to ask her about turning scholarship into activism.

The Making of Intolerant Bodies: A Short History of Autoimmunity. The Promise and Peril of Collaboration between Scientist and Historian

Warwick Anderson recalls Ian R. Mackay as a formidable and rather unnerving senior physician at the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) in the early 1980s. Mackay’s ward rounds were daunting theatrical exercises, slowly grinding from patient to patient, presenting countless opportunities, so it seemed, for Mackay to invigilate and sometimes intimidate medical residents and students.

Member News

When History Meets Science: A Remembrance of William B. Provine (1942-2015)

I was at the University of Bialystock’s biological field station in Gugny, a remote part of Poland, when news reached me of Will Provine’s death. I had been thinking of him that afternoon. I had been trekking in the woods with a small group of biologists visiting Biebrza, a conservation area and national park. I was starting to get tired, uncomfortable, and my attention span was starting to go; keeping up with field biologists isn’t always easy, and, as I am known to say when I am challenged this way “if I had wanted to be a biologist, I would not have become a historian!” And that is the moment Will came to mind. Indeed, he comes to mind every single time I think of the relationship between history and science.

News from the Profession