Emily Merchant

Assistant Professor, Department of Science and Technology Studies, University of California, Davis

2021 to 2022
Research Fellow

Molecular Eugenics

Molecular Eugenics is a history of the eugenic nexus between molecular genetics, the social sciences, and assisted reproductive technologies in the United States since the middle of the twentieth century. Using archival, digital, and oral methods, it brings the history of eugenics up to the present, exploring how eugenic agendas have adapted to the sequencing of the human genome and to gamete donation and in-vitro fertilization. It will advance the history of science by interrogating the collaboration between eugenics and the genetic and genomic social sciences, from the behavior genetics (genetic psychology) of the 1960s to today's sociogenomics — social scientific research that aims to correlate intelligence and socioeconomic outcomes with genomic markers. It will uncover the eugenic worldviews that have inspired these social scientific attempts to understand and control the inheritance of intelligence, and will identify their influence on genetic counseling and on recent efforts to breed smarter babies.