The Fall 2015 Newsletter contains updates on the 2017 São Paulo meeting, the call for 2016 off-year workshop proposals, the president's message, and general updates about the society.

President's Corner

Memories of the Montreal meeting are still fresh in our minds. Christophe Malaterre, Frédéric Bouchard and all the members of the Local Arrangements Committee must be thanked for the excellent organization of this meeting, both its scholarly part and its festive social part. Christophe and Frédéric added a highly appreciated sense of humour and good temper. Special thanks also to the local team who made sure that participants did not get lost in the basements of the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)! Our thanks go also to UQAM and to the other institutions that so generously supported this meeting. Some of the procedures and tools that were developed for its organization could be of help for future meetings.

We are also grateful to Mark Borrello, Rob Wilson and other members of the Program Committee for all the work they did, in particular their organization of the sessions in such a simple time schedule, and for their highly successful choices of speakers for the general lectures.

I want to congratulate the recipients of our three prizes: Jane Maienschein, who received the David Hull Prize and who has contributed so much to the development of historical studies in biology, and Sara Green and Jun Otsuka, respective recipients of the newly created Werner Callebaut Prize and the Marjorie Grene Prize. Our thanks also go to Rachel Ankeny and Jim Griesemer and to the members of the joint Werner Callebaut and Marjorie Grene Prize Committee and of the David Hull Prize Committee, who had the difficult task of selecting winners from among so many excellent candidates. Special thanks to the Konrad Lorenz Institute, which helped to fund the Werner Callebaut Prize.

A new era in the life of ISHPSSB is beginning, with a new council, new committees—the members of which I am happy to welcome—and a new objective: the 2017 meeting in São Paulo. Now is the right time to acknowledge the contributions of the previous council and committee members who unfortunately had to deal with difficult conditions during their mandate. A special mention and many thanks go to Anya Plutynski who, as Secretary, bore the brunt.

This Newsletter (edited by David Suarez) provides more information on the 2017 meeting, which looks most promising thanks to the work of Charbel El-Hani, Jessica Bolker, Maria Elice de Brzezinski Prestes and Roberto de Andrade Martins, the Chairs of Program and Local Arrangements Committees. The São Paulo meeting offers a great opportunity for our Society to strengthen its links with scholars from South America. Another important meeting on the history and philosophy of science, the 25th International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine, will take place in Rio de Janeiro two days after the end of our own meeting. It thus creates the opportunity to spend more time in Brazil, and to visit other places in this huge and diverse country.

I would like to emphasize the very important and long-awaited event for our Society that is the launch of an attractive new website. It is far from being a small step in the life of our Society: the new website will become our major channel of information, where recent news as well as the Operations Manual and reports on the past activities of the Society will be found. The amount of work accomplished by Maria Kronfeldner and the webmaster Michel Durinx to make this new website functional is unimaginable, but the result justifies their efforts. Thanks to both of them, to Sean Valles who also participated in the development of the website, and to all the members of the Editorial Board, of the Council and of the Communications Committee who contributed to this enterprise. You will discover this new site very soon. I am confident that you will appreciate it as we already do.

Another source of satisfaction was the exceptionally high number of members who volunteered to participate in the different committees. There were so many candidates that we were unable to include them all, and I apologize to those who missed out. This abundance of candidates permitted us to optimize the composition of the different committees. Through the efforts of their chairpersons, these committees have already started to work efficiently. I will only mention three examples, because they will have a large impact in the near future. Marsha Richmond and the Operations Committee have energetically begun the huge task of updating the Operations Manual. In addition, Marsha has collected a lot of archives on the composition of the past committees, their work and reports, which will either be deposited in our physical archives managed by our archivist Pamela Henson or put on the website. These two archival resources will be tightly coupled. Gregory Radick has agreed to chair the Education Committee: he is the right person to promote the history, philosophy and social studies of biology in science education. I also want to thank Stuart Glennan who has agreed to chair the Off-Year Workshop Committee. The possibilities offered by these off-year workshops regarding the life and development of our Society have probably been insufficiently exploited in the past.

All these efforts will be directed towards what have always been the objectives of our Society: to favour the development of new areas of research at the boundary between the different disciplines that study biology; to support the young scholars who turn towards them; and to preserve and develop the spirit of ISHPSSB, i.e. easy exchanges between scholars of different disciplinary origins, regardless of the time they have already spent within them. This spirit of openness is more necessary than ever to permit the development of studies on biology, to help them find their place, and to ensure full recognition of their importance.

Michel Morange, President

ISHPSSB 2017: July 16­-21 in São Paulo, Brazil

The 2017 meeting of ISHPSSB will be held from July 16th to July 21 st at the Institute of Biosciences of the University of São Paulo, in São Paulo. Founded in 1934, the University of São Paulo (USP) is one of the most important higher education institutions in Brazil and South America. The Institute of Biosciences is a leading center of biological research in the country, and is located in the middle of a forest preserve in the USP campus.

The city of São Paulo, in the southeast of Brazil, is an important cultural, economic, and financial hub, and one of the main centers for the development of new trends and entertainment in Brazil. São Paulo offers a huge variety of restaurants, entertainment venues, and museums, as well as many free cultural events. This city enjoys a high-altitude tropical climate. In July, wintertime in the Southern Hemisphere, temperatures tend to range between 11 and 23°C (52 and 73°F). It is accessible via the International Airport of São Paulo in Guarulhos (airport code GRU).

The ISHPSSB meeting will be held together with the 2017 Brazilian History and Philosophy of Biology Meeting (EFHB). Those attending ISHPSSB 2017 will also be able to participate in another major international conference in Brazil: the 25th International Congress of History of Science and Technology (ICHST), promoted by the Division of History of Science and Technology of the International Union for History and Philosophy of Science (IUHPS), which will be held in Rio de Janeiro from July 23 to 29. The ICHST call for submissions of symposium proposals is already open (from September 1, 2015 until April 30, 2016).

The ISHPSSB program co-chairs and members of the Local Organizing Committee are already developing a website for submissions and conference information, and discussing the format and organization of the meeting; please contact us with your ideas and suggestions. The Montréal Meeting organization set a high standard for their successors to meet—we’ll do our best and look forward to seeing you in São Paulo!

Charbel El-Hani, Jessica Bolker, Maria Elice de Brzezinski Prestes and Roberto de Andrade Martins, Chairs of Program and Local Arrangements Committees.

Call for Proposals: ISHPSSB Off-year Workshops 2016

Proposal Deadline: 31 January 2016

The ISHPSSB Off-Year Workshop Committee invites proposals for off-year workshops to take place in the summer of 2016. While the society cannot provide financial support for off-year workshops, it will provide publicity, advice to organizers, and some funding to support graduate student travel.

Proposals should meet the following requirements:

  • Workshops should be organized around a particular theme, and do so in a way that appeals to the Society’s membership broadly.
  • Workshops should be open to all members of the society, and location, venue and accommodations should be chosen to make participation affordable, accessible and convenient.
  • Workshops should be organized so as to foster the society’s ideals of interdisciplinarity and international research collaboration, and should promote open interactions between members from graduate students to senior faculty.

Complete proposals will include the following information:

  1. Name, Affiliation, and Contact Information for Workshop Coordinator(s)

  2. Proposed Workshop Topic and Program: What is the topic of the proposed workshop? What are the basic elements of its organization? Why is a meeting on this topic, challenge, or problem necessary, important, or timely? Why is the proposed format appropriate given the goals of the meeting? How does it further the goals of ISHPSSB?

  3. Proposed Site: Why is the chosen site appropriate? What are its advantages? Is the venue accessible? Is the area well served with respect to air and ground transportation? Is the site difficult for international travelers to reach? Are there adequate housing options? Is A/V support available? Are the rooms air conditioned? Is there adequate parking?

  4. Proposed Date: Are the facilities available on the dates chosen? Are there conflicts with other meetings on similar topics?

  5. Expenses

ISHPSSB will not provide funding for off-year meetings, but the Committee will want to make sure, in the interest of the society, that costs to its members are reasonable and that the proposers have secured sufficient funding. Proposers should therefore provide actual or estimated costs for:

  1. Housing options

  2. Registration costs, if any

  3. Parking

  4. Banquet, if any

  5. Total costs for participants

Proposers should also document, as best they can, that they have secured funding appropriate for the size and style of their meeting.

Proposals are due to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., chair of the off-year workshop committee, by 31 January 2016.

If you think you may be interested in hosting an off-year workshop, we strongly encourage you to reach out to members of the committee as soon as possible. We can provide advice on a range of issues from topics, program planning and funding.

Stuart Glennan, Chair of the Off-Year Workshop Committee

Report of the Communications Committee

A new name, an editorial board installed and a new website launched

The Communications Committee is the new name for the publications committee. In the 2013-15 period it followed a tripartite agenda for that cycle (editorial division of labor, website redesign, expanding access to society documents). We made the division of labor for the society publications (website, newsletter, listserv) more explicit by installing an editorial board, but kept the channels of communication as-is. The editorial board currently consists of:

  • the secretary of the society (elected),
  • the newsletter editor (volunteer, nominated by council),
  • the listserv editor (volunteer, nominated by council)
  • the webmaster (hired).

We also suggested an archivist position to manage the online content, but discussions regarding how to organize the online archive and to coordinate it with the physical archive, managed by Pamela Henson, are ongoing.

The work of our volunteers is hugely important and we want to thank them for all the work they do for the society. In the last few years Carlos Mariscal took care of the webpage, Trevor Pearce took care of the listserv and David Suarez is producing our newsletter. Pamela Henson continues to collect and archive physical documents, on behalf of the society.

The communications committee also oversaw the redesign of the new ISH webpage, which will go ‘live’ when this newsletter is distributed. The redesign involved not just technical issues but a lot of rearrangement and collecting of actual and archival material (the latter of which is not yet completed).

A few words on the new website itself: We hope that the new design and the new organization of content is convenient for society members as well as for officers and committee members. We tried to keep things simple since this will make it more likely that the webpage will be kept up-to-date, which involves—even if simplicity rules—a lot of work, mostly for the secretary. The society’s page is meant as a gateway for information having to do with the society and as an open archive of the society‘s operations and history.

Have a look at it! If there is material that you would like to suggest to be added, please let us know!

For the time being, we have kept the same membership site (separate from the main ISH site) since there were technical challenges with changing it. So, there will still be three websites: the society’s main site, the membership page, and a page for each biennial meeting (which allows individual local arrangement committees to customize them as needed).

We discussed the pros and cons of having Facebook, Twitter or an ISHPSSB Blog and created accounts for the first two. Since, so far, interaction on ISH bulletin boards was happening only in relation to the biennial meetings, and since many blogs go quiet after a short while (updating is a lot of work) we did not integrate Facebook, Twitter or a blog into the website. This can be done at a later stage if desired.

Thanks to all involved in helping us get the new site set up and running. Special thanks to Roberta Millstein (still our institutional memory in all things related to webpages and news) and to our new webmaster, Michel Durinx, not just for programming a new site with many convenient features for those who have to edit it, but also for bearing with us through many extra issues that arose on the way. Thanks also to Anya Plutynski for helping us getting the website project started and to Sean Valles who got so involved in this that he not only became a full member of the committee but a true “superuser” of Joomla (the site content management system). Last, but certainly not least, thanks to all past and present committee members, who are listed at the new page under operations and operations archive. Have a look!

Maria Kronfeldner, Chair of the Communications Committee

2015 Marjorie Grene and Werner Callebaut Prizes Committee Report

A joint committee was convened to consider submissions for both of the graduate student paper prizes (the long-standing Grene prize and the new Callebaut prize), given that a number of submissions were entered in both prize competitions. Members included Rachel Ankeny (chair), Marion Blute, Jay Odenbaugh and Neeraja Sankaran.

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 2015 Prize, the Prize Committee received a total of 20 submissions. All were of superb quality, with more than half already published or accepted for publication generally in very high quality journals. Deciding on just one recipient proved to be a very difficult task, particularly given the different disciplinary approaches represented in the submissions. The 2015 Marjorie Grene Prize was 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. 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.

The Callebaut Prize will be awarded every two years, and 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 12 submissions. All were of very high quality, with more than half already published or accepted for publication. This year’s Werner Callebaut Prize was 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 in 2013. Green completed her PhD in 2014 at Aarhus University, Denmark, and currently is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Science Education at the University of Copenhagen.

This year’s committee was excellent and functioned extremely well, particularly with the new situation of needing to award two prizes. However, based on this year’s experiences, it is recommended that future prize committees involve more members (given the overall relatively large number of high-quality submissions) and also that all members have interdisciplinary backgrounds in order to more efficiently and effectively be able to do comparisons across papers using different approaches and methods.

Rachel A. Ankeny, Chair of the Marjorie Grene and Werner Callebaut Prize Committee

Education Committee Report

The charge of the ISHPSSB Education Committee is to facilitate the exchange of ideas, make resources available and foster collaborative projects among ISHPSSB members as they work to address the challenge of promoting critical analysis of biology among students, teachers and others. The 2015 incarnation of this committee is considering a number of plans and possibilities, including pre‑conference education workshops and conference sessions, encouraging colleagues to present education-related work at the meeting, developing connections with other educational initiatives in the life sciences and science studies, and maintaining a section of the society web page that makes adequate science and science studies education resources widely available.

If you have any suggestions you would like to pass on to the committee, and we encourage you to, please address them to Gregory Radick at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Gregory Radick, Chair of the Education Committee


This newsletter was edited by David Suarez Pascal. I thank to Maria Kronfeldner, Michel Morange and Sean Valles for their help, as well as to all the members who contributed with their texts to this newsletter.