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 6:30 to 8:00 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.


Upcoming Meetings (all times Eastern)

There are no currently scheduled upcoming events.

Past Meetings

  • March 7, 2019

    Jay Aronson, "Humanitarian DNA Identification in Post-Apartheid South Africa." An additional article, "The Strengths and Limitations of South Africa’s Search for Apartheid-Era Missing Persons," is included as optional reading.

  • February 21, 2019

    Note Special Date
    Rosanna Dent, "Exemplary Indigenous Masculinity in Cold War Genetics"

  • 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."

  • Membership