Miranda Paton

Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Science and Technology Studies
Cornell University

2007 to 2008
Dissertation Research Fellow

Vertebrate Paleontology and the Evolutionary Synthesis

This project describes the development of evolutionary biology between 1894 and 1944 from the perspective of Henry Fairfield Osborn and George Gaylord Simpson. The aim of this history is to identify the reductive moves that Osborn resisted and Simpson embraced, as they eventually were folded into all of evolutionary biology during the Evolutionary Synthesis. The goal of my work in PACHS consortium archives is to explore Osborn’s and Simpson’s private concerns about the adequacy of their proposed synthetic descriptions of evolution as they truly could link micro-evolution (within populations and below the species level), with macro-evolution (change above the species level). I plan to use collections of correspondence between Osborn and Simpson and their colleagues within several collections held at Princeton University and the American Philosophical Society to shed light on some of the difficult questions that Osborn and Simpson seemed to ignore, dismiss or even fail to understand in their published work. Read Miranda's report on her month of research in Philadelphia-area collections.