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.

To join this working group, click "Request group membership" at right. You will receive instructions for participating online or in person.


  • Luis Campos

    Luis Campos is Associate Professor of History at the University of New Mexico and Secretary of the History of Science Society. Trained in both biology and in the history of science, his scholarship integrates archival discoveries with contemporary fieldwork at the intersection of genetics and society.  He is the author of Radium and the Secret of Life (University of Chicago Press, 2015), co-editor of Making Mutations: Objects, Practices, Contexts (Berlin, MPIWG, 2010).


  • Tina Gianquitto

    Tina Gianquitto is an associate professor of literature at the Colorado School of Mines, where she teaches courses in literature and the environment, American literature, literature an the history of nineteenth-century science, especially the emergence of evolutionary thought and Darwinism. She is currently writing a book that examines the influence Darwin’s plant studies had on galvanizing responses to evolutionary theory in the U.S. in the late 19th century.  She has written on women, nature and science, as well as on Darwinian botany, and, in a different vein, Jack London. 


  • M. Susan Lindee

    Susan Lindee is Janice and Julian Bers Professor of the History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania and Chair of the Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine. Her work explores historical and contemporary questions raised by genetics, nuclear weapons and radiation risk. Her books include Suffering Made Real, The DNA Mystique, and Moments of Truth in Genetic Medicine.


Upcoming Meetings (all times Eastern)

  • Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 6:00pm


  • Thursday, March 7, 2019 - 6:00pm


  • Thursday, April 4, 2019 - 6:00pm


  • Thursday, May 2, 2019 - 6:00pm


Past Meetings

  • December 11, 2018

    Note Special Day CH 6: "Improving Breed II: Science" from Michael Worboys, Julie-Marie Strange, and Neil Pemberton, The Invention of the Modern Breed and Blood in Victorian Britain (JHU Press, 2018). The book's conclusion is included in the file as optional additional reading.

  • October 4, 2018

    The working group will be reading Rachel Dentinger’s recent article titled “From ‘actual forces’ to ‘token stimuli’: Gottfried S. Fraenkel, and the evolutionary ‘raison d’être’ of plant molecules, 1930-1960s,” HSNS (2017): 47, 127-163.

  • May 3, 2018

    Tina Gianquitto will discuss her interdisciplinary work in history of biology and literary studies and her new project on plants. We'll read two articles: “Criminal Botany: Progress, Degeneration, and Darwin’s Insectivorous Plants” in American’s Darwin: Darwinian Theory and U.S. Culture (University of Georgia Press, 2014) and “Botanical Smuts and Hermaphrodites: Lydia Becker, Darwin’s Botany, and Education Reform” Isis, 104:2 (2013): 250-277

  • April 5, 2018

    The group will read "Circulating Biomedical Images: Bodies and Chromosomes in the Post-Eugenic Era," by Maria Jesus Santesmases. It appeared in History of Science, volume 55, 2017, pp. 395-430. We will be joined by Maria Jesus Santesmases who will discuss this paper with us and Susan Lindee from the University of Pennsylvania who will serve as commentator.

  • March 1, 2018

    The working group read "A Feeling for the Algorithm: Working Knowledge and Big Data Biology," by Hallam Stevens. Osiris 2017: 32:151-174. Hallam Stevens joined the meeting discuss this paper with us.

  • February 1, 2018

    Excerpts from (with a focus on chapter 5): John Jackson Jr .and David J. Depew, Darwinism, Democracy and Race: Anthropology and Evolutionary Biology in the Twentieth Century (Routledge, 2017)

  • December 7, 2017

    Selections from David P. Munns, Engineering the Environment: Phytotrons and the Quest for Climate Control in the Cold War (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017)

  • November 2, 2017

    Chapters 13, 14 and 15 of Marianne Sommer, History Within: The Science, Culture, and Politics of Bones, Organisms and Molecules (University of Chicago Press, 2016). We focused on the "molecules" part of this ambitious and long book, and especially the work done by people like Luca Cavalli-Sforza and Mark Feldman at Stanford University on human population genetics, genomics and the "genographic project."

  • October 5, 2017


  • May 4, 2017

    Lawrence Kessler joined the group, as we discussed 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) lead discussion.