Working Groups

Biological Sciences

The Working Group on the History of the Biological Sciences meets monthly to discuss a colleague’s work in progress or to discuss readings that are of particular interest to participants. Meetings are usually held at the Consortium offices in Philadelphia from 6:00 to 7:30 on first Thursdays. Scholars located anywhere can also participate online.

  • Karen Rader

    Karen Rader is Professor of History and Director of the STS Program at Virginia Commonwealth University. She studies history of the modern life sciences in the United States, and is the author of MAKING MICE (Princeton UP, 2004) and co-author (with Victoria E.M. Cain) of LIFE ON DISPLAY U. Chicago Press, 2014).


  • Betty Smocovitis

    Betty Smocovitis is Professor of History at the University of Florida. She studies the history, philosophy and social study of the twentieth century biological sciences, especially evolutionary biology, systematics, ecology, and genetics. She also studies the history of the botanical sciences in America.


Upcoming Meetings

There are no currently scheduled upcoming events.

Past Meetings

  • May 4, 2017

    Lawrence Kessler will join the group, as we discuss a chapter from his on-going project, entitled "Entomology and Empire: Biological Pest Control, Diversified Farming, and Hawaiian Sugarcane Planters' Campaign for Annexation, 1893-1898."  Mary Richie Mcguire (of Virginia Tech's STS Program) will lead discussion.

  • April 6, 2017

    Jim Endersby, Orchid (U. Chicago, 2016).  Discussion led by Rich Bellon (Department of History, Michigan State University).

  • March 2, 2017
    The group discussed chapters 1 and 4 from former PACHS/CHSTM post-doc fellow Abe Gibson's new book, Feral Animals in the South: An Evolutionary History (Cambridge UP, 2016).  
  • February 2, 2017

    Sigrid Schmalzer of University of Massachusetts, Amherst, discussed sections of her book, Red Revolution, Green Revolution: Scientific Farming in Socialist China (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2016).

  • December 1, 2016

    The group discussed selections from Samuel Redman's Bone Rooms (Harvard, 2016).

  • October 27, 2016

    The group discussed two recent articles with their authors: "Ark and Archive: Making a Place for Long-Term Research on Barro Colorado Island, Panama," by Megan Raby of University of Texas, Austin and "The Right Tool and the Right Place for the Job: The Importance of the Field in Experimental Neurophysiology, 1880-1945" by Samantha Muka of the University of Pennsylvania.

  • May 5, 2016

    The group discussed Raf de Bont, Stations in the Field: A History of Place-Based Animal Research, 1870-1930 (University of Chicago Press, 2014), Introduction, Chapter 1, and Conclusion.

  • April 7, 2016

    The group continued its semester theme of examining the decades of the twenties and the thirties. We read the introduction and chapters 2, 3 and 5 of Adam Shapiro's book titled Trying Biology: The Scopes Trial, Textbooks, and the Antievolution Movement in American Schools (University of Chicago Press, 2013). Discussion was lead by Adam Shapiro.

  • March 3, 2016

    Our discussion centered on the Introduction, Chapters 1 and 4 of the new book by James Strick titled Wilhelm Reich, Biologist (Harvard University Press, 2015). We discussed Reich's polymathic and quite remarkable career as a scientist whose works were so controversial, that they were burned both by the Nazis and the US Government. The author James Strick joined us for the discussion.

  • February 4, 2016

    For its first session of 2016, the group discussed Luis A. Campos, Radium and the Secret of Life (University of Chicago Press, 2015), Chapters 2 and 4, and Luis Campos joined the group to help guide the discussion.

Group Membership