The International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB) brings together scholars from diverse disciplines, including the life sciences as well as history, philosophy, and social studies of science. The biennial ISHPSSB summer meetings are known for innovative, transdisciplinary sessions, and for fostering informal, co-operative exchanges and on-going collaborations.

The International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB) brings together scholars from diverse disciplines, including the life sciences as well as history, philosophy, and social studies of science. The biennial ISHPSSB summer meetings are known for innovative, transdisciplinary sessions, and for fostering informal, co-operative exchanges and on-going collaborations.

2013 Marjorie Green Prize for Lukas Rieppel and John Matthewson


The Marjorie Grene Prize is awarded every two years for the best manuscript based on a presentation at one of the two previous ISHPSSB meetings by someone who was, at the time of presentation, a graduate student. For the 2013 Prize, the Prize Committee received a total of fifteen submissions. All were of superb quality, with over half already published or accepted for publication. Once again the Committee was reminded of the creativity and talent of the more junior members of ISHPSSB, as well as the breadth of expertise that defines our Society.

In view of that breadth, and the different kinds of excellence it allows for, it is the more fitting that this year’s Prize will be shared between two recipients: a historian, Lukas Rieppel; and a philosopher, John Matthewson.

Rieppel did his graduate studies at Harvard, and is now an assistant professor at Brown. The Committee found his paper, entitled “Bringing Dinosaurs Back to Life: Exhibiting Prehistory at the American Museum of Natural History”, and since published in Isis, to be an important contribution to our understanding of the complex scientific and public roles of fossil displays in museums. Drawing on a wealth of previously little-explored primary sources from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, his paper offers an analytically lively and richly detailed reconstruction of the range of agendas and people that intersected in the museum rooms where dinosaur fossils were cleaned, assembled and installed. As the paper shows so persuasively and provocatively, the results are best understood as "mixed-media" works of scientific art and artful science.

Matthewson did his graduate studies at ANU, and now has appointments at Massey University, where he is a lecturer, and the University of Sydney, where he is working on a project as a postdoctoral fellow. In the Committee’s judgment, his paper, entitled “Evolving Populations”, offers a stimulating new perspective on the nature of the populations capable of undergoing adaptive evolution. Building on, but going decisively beyond, the existing philosophical literature on populations and natural selection, the paper mounts a compelling case for the indispensability within a population of the sort of causal connectedness captured by Alan Templeton’s term “exchangeability” — a case made with exemplary care, clarity, and consideration for counterarguments and alternative accounts.

Greg Radick (Chair), on behalf of the rest of the Grene Prize Committee (Tara Abraham, Stuart Glennan, Marta Halina and Michel Morange)

2015 Marjorie Grene Prize Citation for Jun Otsuka

Jun Otsuka
The Marjorie Grene Prize is awarded every two years for the best manuscript based on a presentation at one of the two previous ISHPSSB meetings by someone who was, at the time of presentation, a graduate student. The prize is named after Marjorie Grene both because her work in the history and philosophy of biology exemplifies the strong spirit of interdisciplinary work fundamental to ISHPSSB, and because she played a central role in bringing together diverse scholars of biology even before the formation of the Society. She was a valued mentor to many members of the Society and a long-standing inspiration to all.

For the 2015 Prize, the Prize Committee received a total of twenty submissions. All were of superb quality, with more than half already published or accepted for publication generally in very high quality journals. The Committee was struck by the breadth of research interests that help to define our Society, and by the extremely high quality work being done by our graduate student members across all of the disciplines within our Society. Deciding on just one recipient proved to be a very difficult task.

This year’s Marjorie Grene Prize is awarded to Jun Otsuka for his paper “Using Causal Models to Integrate Proximate and Ultimate Causation,” which was presented at the 2013 ISHPSSB meeting in Montpellier. The paper was published this year in Biology and Philosophy 30(1): 19-37, 2014. Jun is currently an Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department at Kobe University, and previously was a postdoctoral fellow in Philosophy at the University of California at Davis. He completed his PhD in History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University in 2014.

Although the paper was quite technical, the committee was struck by its clarity and accessibility. As one member noted, this is a wonderful essay, representing a tremendous leap forward. By using structural equation modelling, the paper provides a nuanced account of how Mayr’s proximate and ultimate causation can be integrated, hence providing a deeper understanding of this distinction as well as allowing incorporation of phenomena such as niche construction, maternal effects, and epigenetic inheritance into an extended evolutionary synthesis.

2015 Werner Callebaut Prize Committee: Rachel A. Ankeny (Chair), Marion Blute, Jay Odenbaugh, and Neeraja Sankaran

2015 David L. Hull Prize Citation for Jane Maienschein 

2015 Maienschein photo

The International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology awards the David L. Hull Prize biennially to honor the life and legacy of David L. Hull (1935-2010). It is awarded to an individual who has made extraordinary contributions to scholarship and service in ways that promote interdisciplinary connections between history, philosophy, social studies, and biology and that foster the careers of younger scholars. These are strengths that reflect the contributions of David Hull to our professions and to our society.
The inaugural recipient of the David L. Hull prize in 2011 was William B. Provine, the Andrew H. and James L. Tisch Distinguished University Professor at Cornell University. The 2013 recipient was William C. Wimsatt, Winton Professor in the College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota, a fellow of the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science, and the Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Philosophy and Evolutionary Biology (Emeritus) at the University of Chicago. This year’s recipient is Jane Maienschein, Regents’ Professor, President’s Professor, and Parents Association Professor, in the Center for Biology and Society, School of Life Sciences, at Arizona State University.
Jane Maienschein has been a leader throughout her career. Throughout that career, she has dedicated much of her energy to improving collaboration, mentorship, and public engagement in the history and philosophy of biology. She has done so by example, and with a special genius for devising organizational forms that harbor and extend these values—including the ISHPSSB, which she helped found and for which she served as its first president.
Professor Maienschein has made an important scholarly mark on the history and philosophy of biology. She has written or edited over a dozen books and produced dozens of articles and reviews that have addressed a variety of issues related to biology, focusing especially on development in the period from 1890 to the present. Her research explores the key assumptions and competing values that have shaped the development of biology. Her early articles on E.B. Wilson, Ross Harrison and T.H. Morgan as embryologists have greatly influenced many historians, philosophers, and sociologists of biology, as have her studies on the development of the chromosome theory and sex determination. Her research articles and books integrate biology, history, philosophy, and social studies in ways that make exceptional contributions to advancing our understanding of the complex societal, institutional, and historical forces that shape biology as a discipline.
Her more recent work, including two books, Whose View of Life? Embryos, Cloning, and Stem Cells (2003) and Biology under the Microscope (2013), both from Harvard University Press, extends her long-standing interest in the intersection of biology and social-ethical issues, particularly cloning, stem cell therapy, abortion and others related to new technological innovations in the area of developmental biology. These works are written in a clear, sophisticated yet accessible, and engaging style intended to be of interest for the general reader as well as for professional biologists, teachers and students. It has long been a part of Jane’s mission to encourage bringing scholarship in our fields to a much wider audience, and she has contributed significant examples of this, putting theory into practice in her own writing.
Maienschein also has excelled as an editor. The collections she co-edited in the early 1990s, The American Development of Biology and The Expansion of American Biology have become models for collective work, and not only for historians of American science. Her most recent collection, From Embryology to Evo-Devo, co-edited with Manfred Laubichler, extends her record of top-flight collaborative works, bringing together outstanding chapters by historians, philosophers, and active biologists. Her service as co-editor of the Journal of the History of Biology helped to foster extremely diverse and high quality scholarship.
Maienschein was among the first of the generation who trained in history and philosophy of science that took seriously the integration of the previously two quite separate fields. As a philosopher, she grounded philosophical issues in concrete historical examples, making the cases relevant to more theoretical questions in philosophy that for many historians had previously seemed rather disparate. The work of Maienschein and many of her contemporaries and colleagues with similar viewpoints helped historians appreciate that philosophy of science could contribute to a fuller understanding of history (as was also a mark of David Hull’s achievements). This integrative approach has greatly influenced many scholars.
The breadth and depth of Jane Maienschein’s professional service as an institution-builder and supporter of young scholars is unmatched. Perhaps Maienschein’s most outstanding contribution to graduate teaching is her role in co-organizing more than 25 years of seminars in history and philosophy of science at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, initially supported by The Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology and now funded by ASU. Leading students and senior researchers from across the world participate. These meetings have contributed to the development of generations of young scholars in the history and philosophy of biology. Her mentorship at ASU has led to numerous awards, Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships for her students, and millions of dollars in external funds for ASU’s Undergraduate Biology Program. She has been a central intellectual force at ASU for reforming biology education so that research and teaching are integrated as one activity. The NSF-funded Embryo Project is an exceptional example of this union and an exemplar of the innovative scholarship and education initiatives that Maienschein has fostered. She has received numerous prominent education and teaching awards, including the Arizona Professor of the Year in 2010.
Jane Maienschein is founding Director of the Biology and Society major, recognized by many as one of the best programs of its kind. She is also founding director of ASU’s Center for Biology and Society. She has served as President of the History of Science Society and has been extremely active in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, of which she is a Fellow. Most recently, she has put new energy into the union of history and philosophy of science and broader community engagement by co-founding the Joint Caucus for Socially Engaged Philosophers and Historians of Science, a unique joint venture of the Philosophy of Science Association and the History of Science Society. This caucus is just the latest in a long personal history of public engagement. Maienschein served for 18 months as Special Advisor for Science and Science Education to an Arizona Representative in Washington, D.C. She provided advice in areas related to biology, contributed to hearings of the House of Representatives’ Committee for Science and Technology, and helped shape our national agenda in science education. Professor Maienschein served on a special committee for Arizona’s Superintendent of Schools to revise Arizona’s science standards.
Jane Maienschein’s imprint on the history, philosophy, and social studies of science is everywhere—as scholar, editor, mentor, organizer, and role model. NSF, NEH, Fulbright, and AAAS panels have benefitted from her advice and leadership. She chaired the external Advisory Committee for NSF’s Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences. In addition to these activities, Jane has been instrumental in creating the Digital History and Philosophy of Science Consortium, which “brings together historians and philosophers of science, with informaticians, computer scientists, and reference librarians with the goal of thinking of new ways to integrate traditional scholarship with digital tools and resources” (http://digitalhps.org/).
As one nominator wrote, “There are many deserving scholars in the field, many successful institution-builders, many great networkers, many great teachers and mentors, but there is only one Jane! She combines all of these features (and more) in such a remarkable way that to me she more than fulfills the characteristics of nominees for the Hull Prize. I endorse her nomination with the greatest enthusiasm possible.” The David L. Hull Prize Committee for 2015 heartily agrees.

2015 David L. Hull Prize Committee: Rachel Ankeny, Ana Barahona, Michael Dietrich, James Griesemer (Chair), Paul Griffiths, Lynn Nyhart

2015 Werner Callebaut Prize Citation for Sara Green

Sara Green


The Werner Callebaut Prize was initiated in 2015, and will be awarded every two years. The Callebaut Prize is intended to advance the careers of recent graduates working at the intersection of the fields represented by ISHPSSB. It will be awarded to the best manuscript utilizing an interdisciplinary approach based on a presentation at one of the two previous ISHPSSB meetings by someone who was, at the time of presentation, a graduate student.
We are grateful to individual donors who have supported this prize, as well as to the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research (KLI) whose Board has agreed to support this prize biennially for the first three prizes (with the possibility of renewal).
For the 2015 Prize, the Prize Committee received a total of twelve submissions. All were of very high quality, with more than half already published or accepted for publication. The Committee was impressed by the variety of interdisciplinary approaches pursued by graduate students and the clear benefits for them of having an interdisciplinary organization such as ISH in which to present their research as frequently expressed in the notes accompanying each submission.
This year’s Werner Callebaut Prize is awarded to Sara Green for her paper "Systems Biology and the Quest for Organizing Principles,” which was presented at the 2013 ISHPSSB meeting in Montpellier. A revised version of the paper, co-authored with the systems biologist Olaf Wolkenhauer, was published in History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 35: 553-76, 2013. Green noted in her submission that the comments made on her presentation from the audience at ISH were crucial for the further development of the paper, and that the collaborative work relating to the published version provided a fruitful synergy through which to explore practical motivations for scientists who are seeking general principles in biology and more theoretical reflections on the philosophical implications of these reasoning strategies.

The paper explores the history of the use of the concept of ‘organizing principles’ and its redeployment in systems biology, and the epistemic role of these principles in scientific practice with particular attention to their use in biological theorizing. These principles are argued to serve as a framework or exemplars to guide future research, rather than providing specific mechanistic or other types of explanations. The paper was viewed by committee members as highly interdisciplinary, blending history and philosophy as well as paying attention to the scientific practices underlying systems biology through collaboration with scientists, and hence was a highly appropriate choice for this inaugural award.
Green completed her PhD in 2014 with the title “Systems Biology and the Quest for General Principles” at Aarhus University, Denmark, in the spring of 2014 as part of Hanne Andersen’s research group ‘Philosophy of Contemporary Science in Practice.’ She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh in 2014–15, and currently is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Science Education at the University of Copenhagen.


2015 Werner Callebaut Prize Committee: Rachel A. Ankeny (Chair), Marion Blute, Jay Odenbaugh, and Neeraja Sankaran

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The ISHPSSB was formed in 1989 in order to hold a biennial meeting, bringing together researchers interested in biology as a discipline, and specifically in its history, philosophy and sociology. One of the driving forces was Dick Burian, who has promised to provide a short history of the Society.

Operations

The Society's operations are guided by the operations manual, follow the operational calendar, and are bound by the bylaws. The officers (executive committee) and other council members are elected every two years in the runup to the Society's meeting. The editorial board, which deals with the communications of the society (website, newsletter, listserv), consists of council members and non-elected volunteers. Past candidate descriptions as well as past committees and officers can be found in the operations archive.