October 2017 – Member News

Jay “Gar” Allen (Washington University, emeritus) and his long-standing co-author, Jeffrey J.W. Baker have published a new text, Scientific Process and Social Issues in Biology Education (Springer, 2017), aimed at students and others interested in how science works conceptually and operationally (through experimental design and application). The text uses a series of case studies, ranging from mass extinction of the dinosaurs to the discovery of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), to illustrate the various processes of science as a human creative activity. It also includes an appendix on statistical methods in biology. The book marks the fiftieth anniversary of their first textbook, The Study of Biology (Addison-Wesley, 1967). In September Gar is giving a series of lectures at the School of Life Sciences at Biejing University, based on topics in the history of genetics, embryology, and eugenics. And now that he is retired, he is able to devote the time necessary to finish a book on the history of genetics in the twentieth century, which attempts to place the field in its social and especially economic context.


Ronald S. Calinger’s (Catholic University of America) book review of Johan C.-E. Sten, A Comet of the Enlightenment: Anders Johann Lexell’s Life and Discoveries in The Mathematical Intelligencer, is now available online.


Peter Collopy (Cal Tech) was named University Archivist at the California Institute of Technology.


Surekha Davies (Western Connecticut State University) will be a Mellon Longterm Fellow at the Folger Shakespeare Library in 2017-18, where she will be working on her second book project, Collecting Artifacts in the Age of Empire.


Aileen Fyfe (University of St. Andrews) has been promoted to full Professor. She is the lead author on a briefing paper on the recent history of scholarly publishing, which she encourages all HSS members to read. It is titled “Untangling Academic Publishing: A History of the Relationship between Commercial Interests, Academic Prestige and the Circulation of Research”; it launched at the British Academy in May, and can be read via open access at https://zenodo.org/record/546100


Klaus Hentschel (Director of the Section for History of Science and Technology GNT, Universität Stuttgart) and his team have been awarded the Neu Whitrow-Prize of the Commission on Bibliography and Documentation of the International Union for the History of Science and Technology, Division for the History of Science, during the 25th International Congress for the History of Science and Technology in Rio de Janeiro in late July 2017, for the Stuttgart-based “Database of Scientific Illustrators 1450-1950” (DSI). The DSI is freely available at www.uni-stuttgart.de/hi/gnt/dsi and currently lists around 11,650 scientific illustrators (10% of which are women) from more than 100 countries, who were active between 1450 and 1950 in the fields of natural history, geology, botany, zoology, biology, medicine, astronomy, chemistry, physics, and in some areas of technology, also listing their relatives, their regions of activity, techniques, clients, secondary publications, archival sources, and more. Further information can be found at http://cbd-histsci.org/prizes/second-neu-whitrow-prize-awarded/, www.uni-stuttgart.de/hi/gnt/hentschel and https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Klaus_Hentschel


Danian Hu (City College of New York) has organized a special issue of the journal Endeavour on Chinese STM in the Cultural Revolution. Six other colleagues (Western and Chinese) have contributed to this special issue of Endeavour, Volume 41, Issue 3 (September 2017), including HSS members Jia-Chen Fu (Emory University) and Sigrid Schmalzer (University of Massachusetts, Amherst).


Emelin E. Miller (University of Minnesota) is a Newberry Library/Consortium of History of Science, Technology and Medicine Fellow for 2017-2018. Her topic is Empire of Ice: Arctic Natural History and British Visions of Nature, 1650-1800. A list of other fellows appears at the end of this Newsletter.


Londa Schiebinger (Stanford University) has just published her new book: Secret Cures of Slaves: People, Plants, and Medicine in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World with Stanford University Press.


The Making and Knowing Project, a research cluster of the Center for Science and Society at Columbia University, directed by Pamela H. Smith, is thrilled to welcome Drs. Sophie Pitman and Tillmann Taape, who are joining Dr. Tianna Uchacz (who has just completed her first year) as Making and Knowing Postdoctoral Scholars and Lecturers in History. They will be co-teaching the Project’s Laboratory Seminar, “Craft and Science.” This course’s exploration of craft-making and scientific knowing, along with the other core Making and Knowing activities such as Expert Maker residencies and annual Working Group Meetings, as well as continued funding for the postdoctoral positions, has been made possible through funding from Columbia University, the National Science Foundation, and the Henry Luce Foundation.


David Stump (University of San Francisco) has produced a new translation of Henri Poincaré’s Science and Hypothesis (jointly with M. Frappier and A. Smith), to be published by Bloomsbury.


Alex Wellerstein, along with two of his colleagues at the Stevens Institute of Technology, Kristyn Karl and Julie Pullen, received an award for $500,000 from the Carnegie Institute of New York for the Reinventing Civil Defense Project. The project will focus on novel ways to communicate about nuclear risks and to mitigate the consequences of nuclear detonations.


American Council of Learned Societies Fellowships

The 2017 cohort of ACLS fellowship recipients includes several members of the History of Science Society:

Daniela Bleichmar (University of Southern California) received the Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship for Recently Tenured Scholars for The Itinerant Lives of Painted Books: Mexican Codices and Transatlantic Knowledge in the Early Modern World.

Sarah Bridger (California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo) for Science in the Seventies: Battling for the Soul of a Profession, from the Vietnam War to Star Wars.

Matthew Howard Hersch (Harvard University) for Abort to Orbit (Matthew also won the HSS/NASA History of Space Science Fellowship as a student).

Evan Ragland (University of Notre Dame) for Experimental Life: Medicine, Science, and the Emergence of a Culture of Experiment. Evan’s Isis article on experimental life appeared in the September 2017 issue.

For an overview of all ACLS fellowship recipients, please refer to the ACLS website. Application deadlines for the upcoming 2017-18 competitions are posted on the website.

Garland “Gar” Allen wins the HSS’s 2017 Sarton Medal

Garland “Gar” AllenGarland E. Allen, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Biology at Washington University in St. Louis, has won the History of Science Society’s 2017 Sarton Medal for lifetime scholarly achievement.

Allen is best known for his book Thomas Hunt Morgan: The Man and His Science (Princeton University Press, 1978). His research has long combined history, philosophy, and biology and he is also the co-author of several college biology textbooks, including The Study of Biology and Matter Energy and Life (both via Addison-Wesley), as well as a more recent supplement titled Biology, Scientific Process, and Social Issues (Wiley, 2002) and a follow-up, Scientific Process and Social Issues in Biology Education (Springer, 2017). He is also the author of the highly-regarded monograph Life Science in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge University Press, 1975, 1978). Allen has written dozens of articles over the last 50 years on evolution, heredity, genetics, and eugenics, as well as their attendant political and social issues. He is currently writing a history of genetics in the twentieth century for Harvard University Press, situating the explosive development of the field in its socio-economic context.

In addition to his scholarship, Allen has served on panels and in leadership positions for the National Science Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, the Hastings Center, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Institutes of Health. Most recently he has been the President of the International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB, 2007-2009). He delivered the Society’s annual Sarton Lecture at AAAS in 1998 and served on Council from 1994-1996.

The Sarton Medal will be awarded to Professor Allen at the annual meeting of the History of Science Society, in Toronto, Ontario, 10 November 2017. For past winners of the medal, go to https://hssonline.org/about/honors/sarton-medal/.

2018 AAAS Sarton Lecture

Bruce HuntBruce Hunt (University of Texas, Austin) will deliver the 2018 George Sarton Memorial Lecture in the History and Philosophy of Science at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The title and abstract of his talk appears below:

“Imperial Science: Victorian Cable Telegraphy and the Making of ‘Maxwell’s Equations’”

James Clerk Maxwell’s theory of the electromagnetic field is rightly regarded as one of the greatest achievements of 19th-century science, and “Maxwell’s equations” have long held an honored place in textbooks and on T-shirts. How and why did the theory come to be cast into this now canonical form of four vector equations, and how and why was this done not by Maxwell himself in his great Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism, but by Oliver Heaviside in the pages of a London electrical trade journal? The answer, I will argue, lies in the demands and opportunities presented by the global network of submarine telegraph cables, one of the characteristic technologies of the British Empire in the second half of the 19th century. Heaviside, himself a former telegrapher, was steeped in the problems facing cable telegraphy, particularly the distortion or “retardation” signals suffered in transmission. It was Heaviside’s search for effective tools with which to tackle such problems that led him to take up Maxwell’s theory in the 1870s and to recast it into the four “Maxwell’s equations” in 1885.

International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (IUHPST) Prizes for Young Scholars

The IUHPST’s Division of History of Science and Technology recognized distinguished young scholars at the recent International Congress in Rio de Janeiro. The prize recognizes exceptional dissertation theses (defended in the last four years) from around the world. The HSS would like to recognize and congratulate those of its members who were among the winners and honorable mentions. Prize winners included Layne Karafantis (Johns Hopkins University), Under Control: Constructing the Nerve Centers of the Cold War; Andrew Stuhl (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Empires on Ice: Science, Nature, and the Making of the Modern Arctic; and an honorable mention for Michael Jeremy Barany (Princeton University), Distributions in Postwar Mathematics.

HSS Bibliographer and the University of Oklahoma

Stephen WeldonThe Department of the History of Science at the University of Oklahoma is pleased to announce that the position of Associate Professor Stephen Weldon, the Society Bibliographer, has been converted from a “ranked renewable term” position to a tenure line. This is an important, concrete sign of the University’s commitment to Dr. Weldon’s work and the importance of the Isis CB. We are delighted that Dr. Weldon’s hard work and creativity in this enterprise has been recognized. The HSS and the University have almost completed another 5-year agreement for OU to continue to host the Bibligrapher’s office. The HSS is grateful for the University’s support.

History of Science at the American Historical Association

HSS sponsored three sessions for the AHA conference, to be held in Washington DC, 4-7 January 2018. We were delighted that all three were accepted (it is difficult to land a spot on the AHA program). The sponsored panels appear below. Congratulations to the participants in these sessions!

Animals in the Early Modern Atlantic World

Chair: Molly A. Warsh, University of Pittsburgh

“Little More Room Than a Drawing”: Flattening Animals and Reconstructing Craft Practice in the British Atlantic, 1740–1820
Whitney Barlow Robles, Harvard University

There is the Sea, Vast and Spacious: Slavery, Natural History, and Collections of Marine Life in the 18th-Century British Atlantic
Christopher Blakley, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Horses, Slaves, and Sugar: New England and the 18th-Century Atlantic World
Charlotte Carrington-Farmer, Roger Williams University

Indigenous Natural History in the “Aztec Encyclopedia”
Iris Montero Sobrevilla, Brown University

Comment: Marcy Norton, University of Pennsylvania

Anatomy and the Construction of Identity

Chair: Karen A. Rader, Virginia Commonwealth University

Joseph Banks and the Skull Trade
Anita Guerrini, Oregon State University

American Fossils: Exhibiting Nature and Nation in New York’s Great Dinosaur Hall
Alison Laurence, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Anatomy of Antisemitism: Jews, Cadavers, and the Politics of Medical Discourse in East Central Europe
Natalia Aleksiun, Touro College, Graduate School of Jewish Studies

Comment: Karen A. Rader, Virginia Commonwealth University

The Emergence of Racial Modernities in the Global South

Chair: Warwick Anderson, University of Sydney

The Chilean Exception: Racial Homogeneity, Mestizaje, and Nationalism
Sarah Walsh, University of Lisbon

Stranded on a Strange Shore: Moments in the Formation of Racial Subjectivity in the Pacific
Miranda Johnson, University of Sydney

The Blondes of Aituha and Other Stories: The Racialization of Indigenous Traditions in Colonial East Timor
Ricardo Roque, University of Lisbon

Objectivity, Race, and Cold War Social Science: Race Relations in World Perspective
Sebastián Gil-Riaño, University of Pennsylvania

Comment: Warwick Anderson, University of Sydney