President’s Corner

I stepped into the role as President of ISH at the conclusion of the splendid meeting in São Paulo last July. I wish to thank our past president Michel Morange, who guided the Society since Werner Callebaut’s sudden and unfortunate death in November 2014. The Society truly owes Michel a debt of gratitude for his able leadership.

The success of the São Paulo meeting was due to the hard work of many individuals. We rely on the generosity of members who volunteer their time to serve on committees and conduct our business, but none more than the local organizers of our meetings. Thus, I particularly want to thank the São Paulo Local Organizing Committee: Maria Elice Brzezinski Prestes (chair), Charbel El-Hani, Roberto de Andrade Martins, Paulo Takeo Sano, Carlos Arturo Navas Iannini, and Paulo Henrique Nico Monteiro. They faced unforeseen economic, political, and public health challenges, and yet orchestrated a meeting that provided ample delights for the 365 participants from 29 countries who attended, many of whom were experiencing Brazilian sights, sounds, and culture for the first time. Program Co-Chairs Charbel El-Hani and Jessica Bolker (assisted by Program Committee members, Carl Craver, Matteo Mossio, Thomas Reydon, Ana Soto, Edna Suárez-Díaz, and Joeri Witteveen) prepared a diverse program replete with well-coordinated sessions, panels, posters, and two very stimulating plenaries by Kevin Laland and Naomi Oreskes. The awards ceremony was a high point of the General Members meeting, and I congratulate the three recipients: Dick Burian (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University): David L. Hull Prize; Lynn Chiu (University of Bordeaux/CNRS): Werner Callebaut Prize; and Emily C. Parke (University of Auckland): Marjorie Grene Prize. In short, the São Paulo meeting well lived up to the high standards ISH has come to expect; while this was the first time we have met in South America, I suspect it will not be the last.

We now look forward to our 2019 meeting in Oslo, Norway. Council enthusiastically approved the proposal submitted by Ageliki Lefkaditou, chair of a seven-member Local Organizing Committee representing four different units of the University of Oslo as well as the University of Bergen, the Norwegian National Technological University, and the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology/National Medical Museum. As you will see from their report (below), the Oslo meeting promises to be another excellent venue, and our meeting in Scandinavia will again be a first. I wish to thank the members of the Site Selection Committee (Matt Haber, Manfred Laublicher, Gregory Morgan, Staffan Müller-Wille, Laura Perini, Thomas Pradeu, Sarah Roe, Roger Sansom, and Betty Smocovitis), who provided excellent guidance in carrying out a central mission of the Society: setting us up to host successful meetings.

With regard to Society governance, the 2017 election yielded several new officers, including Greg Radick (President-elect), Rachel Ankeny (Secretary), and three new Council members: Ingo Brigandt, Emily Parke, and Jutta Schickore. Anya Plutynski was elected Program Chair, but she is unfortunately unable to serve. Council thus asked Edna Suárez-Díaz (a member of the 2017 Program Committee) and Sophia Efstathiou (a member of the Oslo Local Arrangements Committee) to serve, and they kindly agreed. They have some exciting ideas about the 2019 program, which they outline in this Newsletter.

According to the Bylaws, the President is responsible for populating the committees. In the past we circulated a volunteer sheet at the General Members meeting to facilitate this process. This year Council decided to replace this practice, which privileges members attending the meeting, by creating an online system that allows those interested in serving on committees to be placed on the volunteer spreadsheet. If you are interested in serving on a committee in the future, please complete the “survey” here, and we will add you to the new database that will help us form committees in 2019. The list of 2017–2019 committee members is provided below.

Since 2004, ISH has sponsored off-year workshops aimed at serving graduate students and early-career scholars. These gatherings have been exceptionally successful over the years. In 2016, for example, we supported two workshops: EASPLS 2016 and SoCIA 2016. Stuart Glennan (chair) and members of the Off-Year Workshop Committee (Luis Campos, Angela Creager, Maria Ferrreira Ruiz, Matt Haber, and Jane Maienschein) have prepared a call for 2018 workshop proposals. I encourage you to think about themes that might lend themselves to thoughtful consideration by a small gathering of scholars.

One of the goals I have set for my presidency is to expand the participation of historians and those studying social aspects of biology at ISH meetings, as well as independent and early career scholars. The 15 members of our Membership Development Committee, co-chaired by Ingo Brigandt and Alan Love, are working assiduously on this front. In addition, Council has decided to expand our social media presence by actively using our Facebook account, which is now up and running. If you have not yet done so, I invite you to “like” our page. Our 2017–2019 Communications Committee, chaired by Sean Valles, will be helping to manage postings, and if you are interested in contributing to ISH’s social media presence, please get in touch with Sean or me. One thing we are considering is an ISH Instagram account, linked to our Facebook page, which would allow both local organizers and members to post pictures taken at past meetings and off-year workshops. This would help preserve, for example, the many lovely photographs taken at the São Paulo meeting, and it could become a central repository as well as a pictorial archive for the Society. ISH meetings are widely known for being academically robust gatherings, but also for its very friendly atmosphere, and what better way to document this than through sharing photographs of our meetings. If you have other ideas about how to promote our society, do not hesitate to contact me or another officer.

Marsha Richmond
President 2017–2019

ISHPSSB 2019: 7–12 July in Oslo, Norway

We are extremely happy to welcome you all in Oslo, at the very north of Europe, for the next ISHPSSB meeting, 7–12 July 2019.

The City

Oslo Blindern campus
University of Oslo Blindern campus   © Olav Naess

Oslo is a vibrant, welcoming and safe capital with fascinating culture and history, surrounded by magnificent natural landscapes. The municipality of Oslo has a population of about 650 000, including a lively migrant community, which adds significantly to the city’s developing cosmopolitan character. Its green areas, long summer days and high quality of life make it a desirable summer destination.

Early July is the heart of the Norwegian summer with average temperatures of 20°C, and usually climbing up to 26°C. Some hours of rainfall are not unusual, but visitors should expect an average of seven hours of sunshine per day, and more than 18 hours of proper daylight. The scenery is at its best with lush green landscapes, blossoming flowers and warm waters for those wanting to go swimming in the nearby beaches, lakes or rivers.

Oslo is well connected to all major international destinations including direct flights within Europe, and from cities in North America and Asia, and is covered by a variety of low cost options. Norwegian airports have a strong environmental profile and focus on good public transportation, which the participants are encouraged to use.

The Organizers

The organization is a joint effort of the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology/National Medical Museum and the University of Oslo Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis, the Institute of Health and Society, the TIK Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, and the Museum of University and Science History. One member of the local organizing committee comes from the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and another from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Bergen.

This composition of the local committee will ensure wide support for the event and reflects also the emphasis of the Society in bringing together diverse disciplines. The academic focus in the life sciences and history and philosophy of science will be supplemented by the strengths of the organizing institutions in social studies of science, biomedical sciences, and museum studies.

The logistical host of the meeting is the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology, which is the national museum for technology, industry, science and medicine. The museum has over 260 000 visitors per year and is committed to providing an open, democratic and safe arena for informed public discussions on contemporary social challenges. The main conference venue is the University of Oslo Blindern campus, located on the calm and leafy western outskirts of Oslo and within easy access from the city center by public transportation. The University of Oslo is a leading European university and Norway's largest academic institution with 7 000 employees and 28 000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. Since its establishment in 1811, the University has been one of the most significant actors for the country’s development, and has had important contributions in international research and innovation.

The Conference Sites

All buildings booked for the conference offer accessible routes in and throughout, and are located within very short distance from public transportation (tram and metro), which is also wheelchair accessible. The buildings are within less than 2 minutes walking distance from each other. The routes between these buildings are wheelchair accessible with ramps and lifts. An onsite walkthrough will ensure the suggestion of the best and shortest routes. The venues hosting other activities hold up to the same or even higher standards of accessibility.

The local organizing committee has already secured financial support from the organizing institutions and the Science Studies Colloquium, and will keep exploring additional funding opportunities. Major national and international hotel chains, and a range of hostels and apartments, are situated within walking distance from public transportation to the conference venue. Since business travel is low in July, conference participants will have a chance to book even traditionally expensive rooms at discounted prices. The costs for participants will be kept at the same levels with previous meetings.

The long summer days in Oslo are ideal for informal and formal social gatherings. The social program for ISHPSSB 2019 will include two main events, a welcome reception in combination with the opening lecture, and the conference banquet. The official opening of the ISHPSSB 2019 meeting will be held at the University’s Aula decorated with Edvard Munch’s murals, located in downtown Oslo. The local organizing committee will apply for the generous funding The City of Oslo offers for hosting the welcome reception at the City Hall. The site is ideally located within a very short walking distance from the University Aula, just next to the waterfront, and home to the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony. The banquet will be held at the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology next to the Akerselva River, and will be combined with guided tours to the museum’s exhibits. Depending on the weather conditions, the participants will also have the opportunity to explore the surrounding area, which was critical for Oslo’s industrialization in the second half of the 19th century.

Other Activities

Oslo Norway fjordsBeing a tourist in Oslo, especially in July, can be an amazing experience. Museum-goers, history and architecture enthusiasts, and nature lovers will all have plenty to enjoy: the architectural gem of The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, the Vigeland Sculpture Park, the Norwegian Folk Museum, The Viking Ship Museum, the Munch Museum, the Oslo Fjord and surrounding beaches and forests.

The possibilities for day trips and longer explorations to historical sites and breath-taking nature are limitless. From the nearby historical town of Fredrikstad, to the unique coastal landscape of Hvaler, all the way to the cosmopolitan port-town of Bergen and further up to the historic city of Trondheim, Røros and the glorious Lofoten Islands, a trip to Norway is an unforgettable experience.

Ageliki Lefkaditou and Sophia Efstathiou
on behalf of the Local Organizing Committee 2017–2019

News from the Program Co-Chairs for the Oslo Meeting, 2019

We are thrilled to start preparations for our next meeting, which will take place in Oslo, Norway’s capital city. So far, we have invited a diverse group of historians, philosophers, and STS scholars to be part of our Program Committee. They will help us to put together an exciting program with a focus on one major theme: responsible research and innovation. This is a broad and timely subject, and very well suited to the geographic setting we will be enjoying: the Nordic countries have been leading innovators in the advancement of studies of technology assessment and in the research and practice of socially relevant science, past and present. We are also confident that this subject will appeal to specialists in the different fields concurring at ISHPSSB meetings, including philosophy, education, history, ethics, and sociology of the life sciences.

Efstathiou Sophia
Sophia Efstathiou
Edna Suarez-Diaz
Edna Suárez-Díaz

Together with our President Marsha Richmond we are deeply committed to make the meeting at Oslo a great venue for communication and we are working to facilitate a friendly interdisciplinary setting. We want historians, sociologists and biologists to feel at home again, while preserving ISH as a great venue for philosophers of biology to meet. Equally important, we want our society to remain as the place where natural scientists and humanists meet to learn and discuss about the challenging subjects of our times. Moreover, we would like to extend this communicative mood to other areas, and encourage our members to think of connections between our more traditional subjects and other practices, including relations between art—and art practices—and the life sciences, and what they can teach us in HPS and social studies of science.

To do so, we are working closely with the Membership Development Committee to encourage a greater diversity of disciplines and people to be present at our future meetings. As part of this larger effort we are currently working on several new undertakings: a proposal for an Interdisciplinary Session Prize; opening our Poster session to multimedia formats; and developing on-site activities, “gameformances,” and exercises to facilitate interdisciplinary mixing. We will be posting more news about these and other initiatives for the Oslo meeting. Finally, we hope this first note makes everybody start thinking about innovative sessions, since the countdown has already started!

Sophia Efstathiou and Edna Suárez-Díaz
Program Committee 2017–2019 Co-Chairs

Call-For Proposals: Off-Year Workshop 2018

Proposal Deadline: 31 January 2018

The ISHPSSB Off-Year Workshop Committee invites proposals for off-year workshops taking place during 2018. While most off-year workshops occur during the summer (northern hemisphere), we invite proposals for any workshop between April and December of 2018. 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.

EASPL2016 and SoCIA2016 group photos
2016 had two Off-Year Workshops: EASPL 2016 (left) and SoCIA 2016 (right)

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.

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.

Proposals are due to Stuart Glennan (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 2018.

Stuart Glennan
on behalf of the Off-Year Workshop Committee 2017–2019

Committee Reports, 2017

Treasurer’s Report, São Paulo, 2017

ISHPSSB is in good shape financially. Closing balance of accounts as of June 30, 2017 is US$177,936.55. The main expense for the Society is student travel funding: US$17,012 since the last meeting. In contrast, typical expenses for office needs, website fees, etc. runs about US$1500 per year. Our primary regular sources of income are membership fees and member donations. The Montreal 2015 meeting also generated a substantial surplus that was remitted to the Society. We also have two additional sources of funds: the Eight Societies NSF grant reimburses a significant portion of student travel awards, and we receive a generous donation from the Konrad Lorenz Institute for the Callebaut Prize.

Laura Perini

Travel Support Committee Report

ISHPSSB funded graduate student travel to two off-year workshops in 2016, supporting nine student participants in EASPLS 2016 at the Konrad Lorenz Institute and SoCIA 2016 at Clemson, South Carolina. We received 26 applications for travel support for the São Paulo meeting; all received award offers, with an average award of US$473. We expect to disburse about US$12,000 in travel grants for the São Paulo Meeting.

Travel Support Committee 2015–2017

Secretary’s Report, São Paulo

membership 2013 2017The ISH membership has stayed relatively stable and now stands at 339 regular members, 142 student members and 39 emerita members. Notably, ISH now has 64 members in Brazil, of who 53 are new members since since the 2015 Montréal meeting. One major development between the 2015 and 2017 meetings was a research project on ISHPSSB which studied the interdisciplinarity of our members: “Producing Loveable Monsters: Initial Analysis from the survey of ISHPSSB conference attendees’ interdisciplinary research activities”, authored by Chantelle Marlor, Michelle Riedlinger and Aaron Penner. A report of the findings is available on the ISH Website, appended to the PDF version of the Spring 2016 Newsletter.

membership 2017Also in the period between the 2015 and 2017 meetings, a new ISHPSSB website was launched, thanks in large part to Maria Kronfeldner (Communications Committee) and Michel Durinx (Webmaster). It is an updated, and more flexible website, more easily managed by the Secretary. And, of course, the 2017 elections (managed by the Secretary) brought in a new group of ISH leaders!

Sean Valles
Secretary 2015–2017

São Paulo Local Organizing Committee Report

The past meeting in São Paulo was a complete success! We had a total of 365 registrations, being 133 of regular members, 138 of students members, 32 non-members, 55 visitors and 7 invited guests.

The participants were from 29 countries, being 4 from the Middle East, 7 from Oceania, 4 from Asia, 160 from Latin America, 108 from English-speaking America and 78 from Europe.

We had 147 participants registered for the gala dinner, 22 asking for a vegetarian option.

The total expenses were US$100,000, covered by US$40,000 from the registrations and US$80,000 from the Brazilian institutions: the University of São Paulo, Butantan Institute, and the Research Foundations, CAPES, CNPq, and FAPESP.

Maria Elice Brzezinski Prestes
on behalf of the Local Organizing Committee 2015–2017

Communications Committee Report

The Communications Committee (formerly the Publications Committee) is an ad hoc committee that deals with the Society’s various forms of communications and publications. In 2011 the Committee prepared a report (“Dietrich Report”) on the Society’s means of communicating with members and potential members, which ultimately, during 2013–2017 has led to a webpage reconstruction project. The following complements the report on the first phase of this project (2013–15) and summarizes everything again.[1]

When we started the website reconstruction project there were three different websites related to the society and a listserv subscription:

  • There were two old pages that conveyed information about proceedings, history etc. and they were in bad shape and hard to find (e.g. if you googled it). These have been replaced by a completely redesigned Society’s webpage and the committee helped (and also further people) to recollect information and fill the new site with it. Thanks to all that have been involved (see end of the report for names). The site has now been tested for two years and it all works fine. Minor issues are solved by the webmaster.
  • There was also and still is a membership page, for which we pay quite some money: US$1560 per year. It still exists as a separate page, even though we tried to make that as invisible as possible. We did not integrate the membership-site at the time of the re-launch of the society’s page since a few people opted against it, mainly since the OneFireplace-driven membership page worked and guaranteed secure storage of the membership data. In addition, changing it seemed to be even more work since it applied the transfer of financial information, membership data, etc. and the provider of that site could not guarantee that the data won’t be lost, if we leave the service.
  • Twitter and Facebook accounts have been created but not yet used. Suggestions have now been made for using these in the future, either via another editor or via a new communications officer (one person taking care of all the non-official communications (i.e. newsletter, listserv, Facebook, Twitter), see below on “division of labor”.
  • The listserv was not fully integrated either, since, again: it worked and we had the hands full solving the other issues. There might be changes to how it works; yet no concrete proposal has been made with respect to it.
  • A web archive on the society’s page has been organized and updated as much as possible (especially with respect to past meetings). Yet, some information is still missing, in particular in the operations archive. No online-archivist has been selected to fill that web archive with more material. Pamela Henson’s name has been added to the webpage, so that it is public who takes care of our physical archive and does in that sense a huge service to our society.
  • Also, the history of the society still needs to be written.
  • For the reconstruction of the webpage, a contractor was hired, who also serves since then as the webmaster of the society, paid on an hourly basis (at a rate of GB£30/hr, up to GB£150 per year.) The service was chosen after a call for quota and an in-depth review of the proposals received by the communications committee. After the two-year test cycle, it has now been suggested to Council that this solution of a paid webmaster under the above specifications is continued until any further decision to the contrary is made.
  • The committee reviewed and discussed further changes regarding the communications of the society. These discussions mainly concerned the hosting of its webpages (Bluehost), the integration of its membership management page (based on Wild Apricot Services), in particular with respect to costs, security, the options for an open membership list, and the like. The discussions also covered options for integrating electronic elections, the listserv and using the society’s Facebook and Twitter account.
  • The division of labor regarding communications of the society has been improved and tested for two years. Now, further improvements have been suggested. In 2013, an editorial board has been created, currently consisting 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 I want to thank them all, for the work they have done and still 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 Suárez is producing our newsletter. Pamela Henson continues to collect and archive physical documents, on behalf of the society. A proposal has been submitted with respect to their status within the society as volunteers (rather than officers).
  • It has been suggested that the society should explicitly endorse Open Access publishing, members and meeting organizers should make use, for instance, of PhilSci Archive.
  • Finally, the committee raised the issue of its further existence, suggesting that it is rather an officer (or the set of volunteer editors) than a committee that is needed to take care of the future of the communications of the society.

Maria Kronfeldner
on behalf of the Communications Committee 2015–2017

Membership Development Committee Report


The committee has not been able to make as much progress as we had hoped, but what we should have in place after the São Paulo meeting and going forward is structural longevity that will mean that our efforts can build up momentum and fulfill longer range goals than have been pursued or achieved in the past.

The committee has grown significantly, going from 4 members to 14 members between Montpellier and Montreal. We hope this will increase further after São Paulo, though in some very defined ways. We are engaged in an important task in the society, and one whose urgency has grown rather than receded in recent years. Now more than ever we need to have membership diversity at the forefront of our societal agenda.

The primary strategic element that we have implemented is a move to a longer time range in planning and executing activities on a broader scale related to membership diversity. Between Montpellier and Montreal, several of us tried to implement a couple of piecemeal activities for stirring up interest in ISHPSSB membership, especially with respect to history and sociology/social science of biology (broadly construed). These either failed miserably or met with only minimally encouraging success. This made us think that a new approach is needed, one that is both broader and works over a longer time horizon.

Time Horizon: the membership development efforts of the past have been hampered by changes in personnel on the ISHPSSB council and the committee in particular. This has meant piecemeal efforts were the norm. Nothing has been sustained over more than a two-year cycle of biennial meetings. ISHPSSB is now almost thirty years old (formally beginning in 1989). We believe that an 8–10-year plan is needed for membership development. This type of plan will have short range goals (next meeting), mid-term goals, and long-term goals.

Membership Development (Diversity) Categories: at a minimum, membership development can be thought of simply as increasing numbers. However, ISHPSSB has not had difficulty growing per se. Rather, the issue is that our growth has been unequal across several domains. Most notably, this has shown up in decreasing proportions of historians and social scientists (especially the latter). This is reflected in membership numbers but also in sessions on the program at our biennial meetings. We have become a society where the number of philosophers involved is much larger than the other categories. Additionally, some of these philosophers are less interested in historical and social science angles of the society. Set aside any value judgments about this; it simply means we have to work with this in mind.

Another domain that we believe is important to consider is global region. ISHPSSB grew out of a primarily North American contingent of scholars and has increasingly included European and Central/South American scholars. Yet, it is not clear that the society is oriented sufficiently toward Central/South America. Perhaps more critically, East Asian country representation is also clearly a growing (and welcomed) presence in our society. Having ISHPSSB 2017 in Brazil was wonderful for developing better linkages with Central/South America, but much more is needed. Here we are especially intrigued by the possibilities inherent in the diversity of our committee's regional representation.

An additional domain is categories of institutional location and career stage. There are a variety of people who can and have participated in our society who are not employed in standard academic positions. Given how difficult it is to get a stable academic position, this might be expected, but it isn't clear to me that we have metabolized it (yet). These considerations intersect with career stage since the graduate student/post-doc level is where many of these things are extremely salient (though not exclusively, for sure). In short, we need to be a professional society that is aware of and reaches out to a diversity of scholars in terms of institutional location and career stage.

ISHPSSB surveyFinally, and critically, we need not to forget about those categories of diversity that are more standard in many conversations: ability, race, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation (among others). Given the way in which historical, philosophical, and social studies of biology pertain to claims made about all of these categories in public policy and societal discourse more generally, our own practices should be sensitive to and proactive about how they bear on our membership (or, more pertinently, those who are not in our membership).

Committee work within a society is typically autonomous. However, there is good reason to see the Membership Development Committee’s work as articulating with other societal committees, especially in conjunction with our biennial meeting. Although it might seem intuitive, there has not been active collaboration with the Program Committee, Communications Committee, Student Advisory Committee, Off-Year Workshop Committee, and the Prize Committees. Thus, part of the plan has to do with better articulation between our task and those of other committees. We are, for example, currently working with the Program Committee for the 2019 Oslo meeting.

Note: the above recommendations and plan of action are synthesized from committee responses to a 2016 survey on these issues. A complete report of this survey and the responses is available on the ISPHSSB website attached to the Spring 2016 issue of this Newsletter.

Alan Love
on behalf of the Membership Development Committee 2015–2017

Committee on Education Report

Prior to the São Paulo meeting, the Committee was active mainly in updating the Education resources page of the website. At the meeting itself, the Committee sponsored a "how-to" session on getting published. Chaired by Isabella Sarto-Jackson (KLI), who also organized the session, it featured a panel of editors from three of the main journals in the field — the Journal of the History of Biology (Michael Dietrich), History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences (Staffan Müller-Wille), and Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (Gregory Radick) — who answered questions first from Isabella and then from the floor. Although intended for early career scholars, the session drew a large audience from across the ISH constituency, suggesting sessions like this meet a need in our community. The Committee would like to thank the editors for their contributions and Isabella for her splendid chairing and for making the session happen in the first place.

The Committee — with nearly everyone present — managed to hold its first face-to-face discussion in Sao Paulo, mainly to consider ambitions for the future. The following emerged as key goals:

  1. Continue improving the resources webpage, e.g. by adding in some of the tips that emerged at the São Paulo "how to" session, and by creating a clearinghouse for HPSSBio teaching materials.
  2. Sponsor a wider range of career-development sessions for ISH members at the Oslo meeting (and beyond); so, yes, another "how to" session with journal editors, but also perhaps a session on building and managing a profile as a public intellectual.
  3. Find ways of collaborating more with science educators at the Oslo meeting (and beyond), in the form of, e.g., hands-on practical workshops, museum visits, perhaps a public lecture.

Gregory Radick
on behalf of the Education Committee 2015–2017

2017 ISHPSSB Prize Awards

2017 Werner Callebaut Prize

The Callebaut Prize was established in 2015, and is awarded every two years. It is intended to advance the careers of recent graduates working at the intersection of the fields represented by ISHPSSB by recognizing the best manuscript utilizing an interdisciplinary approach based on a presentation at one of the two previous ISH meetings by someone who was, at the time of presentation, a graduate student. The prize is named in honor of Werner Callebaut, whose untimely death in 2014 was mourned by the philosophy of biology community worldwide and particularly ISH members, and who made considerable contributions to the promotion of constructive dialogue and reciprocal respect in philosophical and scientific work, hence making a prize focused on interdisciplinarity most appropriate.

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) for support for the first three prizes.

For the 2017 Prize, the Prize Committee received 4 submissions. All were of very high quality, with several already published or accepted for publication. The Committee was struck by the diverse interpretations of interdisciplinarity represented, and the importance of ISH to graduate students due to its support for interdisciplinary research, as was frequently noted in the cover letters provided by the applicants.

This year’s Werner Callebaut Prize is awarded to Lynn Chiu for her paper “The Birth of the Holobiont,” which was presented at the 2015 ISHPSSB meeting in Montréal. A revised version of the paper, co-authored with Scott Gilbert, was published in the journal Biosemiotics in 2015. The paper has already received an award from this journal, which remarked on its interdisciplinarity and uniqueness as a collaboration between a senior scientist and a junior philosopher. Dr. Chiu completed her PhD at the University of Missouri in 2015, and is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the ImmunoConcept Lab at the University of Bordeaux/CNRS.

Lynn chiu and Scott Gilbert
Lynn Chiu and Scott Gilbert

Drawing on recent philosophy of biology literature and on rich biological literature, this paper proposes a new “birth narrative” based on the view that humans are not monogenetic multicellular organisms but rather “holobionts,” that is, eukaryotes composed of multiple symbionts. This paper stood out both because of the clarity and stringent organization of its argument and its timely topic, but also because it makes a genuine intellectual contribution to the field. Much of the work in applied philosophy of science or integrated HPS is unidirectional: scientific episodes serve to illustrate or test philosophical conceptions, or else outstanding scientific achievements are explored in the hopes of generating new philosophical ideas. Such work is typically done to contribute to and advance the philosophy of science.

But the committee agreed that in this paper we have truly interdisciplinary work: the application of concepts from philosophy of biology and cognitive science (the situated cognition and bounded rationality literature) to a scientific conception adds something both to the scientific discussion of human reproduction and to philosophical discussions about individuals, evolution, and development as well as having interesting implications for the historiography of immunology and bacteriology.

Lynn recounted to the committee that she was particularly honored to apply for this prize since Werner Callebaut literally made this paper possible. She wrote: “The last time I saw Werner was at the 2015 EuroEvoDevo in Vienna. He had encouraged me to submit a (different) philosophical paper to a purely scientific session… And there I was, finding myself presenting to no one else but my college science hero developmental biologist Scott Gilbert, who invited me to have a chat during coffee break. As we talked sitting on the branches of a big tree outside, Werner passed by and, delighted by what he saw, snapped a photo of us. We then said our goodbyes. About two weeks later, Werner sent both Scott and I an email with our photo, with lovely comments about our conversations… in his response to Werner’s email, Scott invited me to write a paper together. I am immensely grateful that Werner witnessed this paper take shape and read it up to its penultimate draft.”

On behalf of ISHPSSB, I am pleased to award the 2017 Callebaut Prize to Lynn Chiu.

Rachel A. Ankeny
Secretary 2017–2019

2017 Marjorie Grene Prize

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.

Parke Emily
Emily Parke

For the 2017 Prize, the Committee received a total of 5 submissions. All were of high quality, with many already published or accepted for publication in high quality journals. Despite the relatively low number of submissions, the Committee was pleased by variety of methodological approaches and topics covered, and by the innovative work being done by our graduate student members across the disciplines represented in our Society.

This year’s Marjorie Grene Prize is awarded to Emily C. Parke for her paper “Experiments, Simulations, and Epistemic Privilege” which was presented at the 2013 ISHPSSB meeting in Montpellier. The paper was published in 2014 in Philosophy of Science. Emily is currently a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Auckland. She completed her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania in 2015.

As one reviewer noted, this paper was the standout of all of the submissions for the Prize, and also was a pleasure to read, achieving that delicate balance between conceptual rigor and elegant written expression often lacking in philosophical contributions within the analytic tradition. It delivers a clear and convincing message about the absence of any in principle epistemic asymmetry between experiment and simulation through a careful exploration of detailed examples from the biological sciences, particularly experimental evolution. Dr. Parke’s paper provides helpful distinctions about the putative nature of the epistemic asymmetry (unexpected behaviors versus hidden mechanisms) and then applies them concretely to demonstrate that the materiality thesis cannot do the heavy lifting expected of it. The paper is likely to make considerable contributions to ongoing debates about the status of simulations, and has important epistemic and pragmatic consequences not only for the philosophy of biology but for the philosophy of science (and science) more generally.

On behalf of ISHPSSB, I am pleased to award the 2017 Grene Prize to Emily C. Parke.

Rachel A. Ankeny
Secretary 2017–2019

2017 David L. Hull Prize

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. The 2015 recipient was 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. On behalf of the Society and the 2017 David L. Hull Prize Committee, comprised of Ana Barahona, Paul Griffiths, Alex Levine, Roberta Millstein, Anya Plutynski, Sarah Richardson, and James Griesemer (Chair), we award this year’s prize to Richard M. Burian, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and Science Studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Burian Richard
Richard Burian

Dick Burian trained originally in mathematics, but shifted fields to study philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. His move into philosophy of biology just as it was emerging as a specialty has been a benefit to all of us. Indeed, it is substantially because of Dick Burian that philosophy of biology is “a thing” and that the integration of philosophy of science with both history and social studies of science has been the agenda of ISHPSSB since its beginning.

A hallmark of Dick’s work is that he listens to what the scientists are saying and doing. He tailors philosophical investigations to the practice of working biologists rather than trying to force biological science into some preconceived, philosophical mold. More than that, the way Dick works to generate intersections of philosophy and biology, together with a strong contextualization in history and social sciences, have helped make his work a model for the field, and have made Dick one of the most accomplished and admired interdisciplinary scholars of his generation.

Dick was a central contributor to debates in the 1980s about the units of selection and sociobiology and in subsequent decades on defining the gene, on characterizing the contributions of development to evolutionary theory, and he pioneered in examining the use and role of model organisms, as well as many other topics. The nominators, in addition to many authors who continue to cite it in the literature, recognize Dick’s paper, “How the Choice of Experimental Organism Matters: Epistemological Reflections on an Aspect of Biological Practice” (Journal of the History of Biology, 1993), as a pioneering study of science in practice and one of the very first to recognize the emerging phenomenon and problems of model-organism-based biology. Others remarked on the general excellence of his 2005 collection of essays with Cambridge University Press, The Epistemology of Development, Evolution, and Genetics.

Dick’s papers on the history of French genetics have served as an important voice amid narratives that too often have been dominated by Anglo-American and German histories. The result is an appreciation of genetic traditions that integrated molecular biology and developmental biology earlier than was done in the United States. Dick was also one of the first science studies scholars to appreciate the importance of the rise of Evo-Devo and he continues to contribute significant work in this area.

In addition to his leadership as an interdisciplinary scholar, Dick has played a key role through the decades in building interdisciplinarity among historians, philosophers and biologists by organizing conferences that brought people from different disciplines together. Just to mention three:

  1. The 1984 Mountain Lake Research Conference on Evolution and Development led to a paper one nominator called “legendary.” This was, of course, “Developmental Constraints and Evolution,” by Burian, together with a who’s who of innovative scientists: Maynard Smith, Kauffman, Alberch, Campbell, Goodwin, Lande, and Wolpert (Quarterly Review of Biology, September 1985).
  2. The Conference “Foundations of Developmental Biology” held at the Santa Fe Institute, 1989, and organized by Burian, S. Kauffman, and W. Wimsatt. If I may offer a personal anecdote, this was a pivotal workshop for me as a junior scholar, as it was the place I met both Stu Kauffman and Leo Buss, which completely changed the course of my own career.
  3. The symposium “The Right Organism for the Job” at ISHPSSB 1991 in Brandeis, led to Burian’s already mentioned 1993 keystone paper in Journal for the History of Biology on “Choice of Experimental Organism.”

In additional to his own scholarship, Dick has played a critical role as an editor, especially of volumes that integrate contributions from history, philosophy, social studies, and biology. For example, among the numerous special issues of journals with an interdisciplinary focus he has edited are a special issue of Synthese on historical and cultural contexts for philosophy of biology, a special issue of Biology and Philosophy on integration, the special issue of the Journal of the History of Biology on selecting appropriate organisms for research, and a special issue of History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences on the transition from embryology to developmental biology. Nominators expressed appreciation for the many special issues of journals and volumes Dick edited or co-edited that have become canonical texts, introducing students to the field at the same time they summarized the state of the art.

Dick Burian is the consummate academic citizen. He is a tireless advocate of bringing together people from very different backgrounds. He has always acted with an exceptional sense of friendship, of superb organizing ability and sense, and with a rather unusual awareness of the importance of interdisciplinary work for both the biological sciences, and the humanities and social sciences. He played a key role in the early 1980s, organizing a number of conferences, workshops, and meetings that led to the ISHPSSB. Along with Marjorie Grene, Dick ran the Cornell Summer Institute on Philosophy of Biology in 1982, which ultimately gave rise to ISHPSSB, from the pilot “pre-meeting” at Denison in 1983 to the first “conference” in 1985 at Saint Mary’s, and on to a full-fledged “Society” by the time of the Blacksburg meeting in 1997, hosted by Burian himself, which has become increasingly international with every subsequent meeting. Dick and others set the tone for our Society being very welcoming to student presentations, encouraging mentorship of students and junior faculty, and for encouraging informal gatherings for professionals and students during the meetings.

Dick has worked tirelessly for the Society, as well as for many of its members personally, especially those among us who may not have had jobs at prominent universities or been the most centrally located, or who may just have been shy or awkward in the presence of distinguished leaders in the field. He has also worked to ensure that meetings are as inclusive, gender balanced, and properly interdisciplinary as they ought to be. His graciousness, competence, and generosity are renowned. It is no surprise that Dick has been an incredible mentor to many students and young faculty members.

Dick crafted the ISHPSSB by-laws and worked through the legal process of incorporating the Society (which is why we are incorporated in the State of Virginia). This was a tremendously time-consuming job that was both essential and seldom acknowledged. He served as informal president for the time before there was a formal ISH or an elected president to lead it. It is for that reason that he was immediately elected as “honorary past president” during the very first ISH business meeting.

For many years, Dick volunteered Virginia Tech as a last minute fall back should local arrangements for ISH meetings falter elsewhere. As President and as Chairperson of many committees, Dick’s care and thoroughness led to the guidelines and procedures for ISHPSSB that have served us so well for decades, including most recently the procedure for soliciting and evaluating nominations for the Hull Prize. Indeed, he leaves most of us in the dust when it comes to service on ISH committees.

Dick has been equally active in promoting interdisciplinary biology studies beyond ISHPSSB. He served as Chair of the History and Philosophy of Biology Division of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, contributing alongside Jane Maienschein and Gar Allen to make SICB an important meeting ground for historians and philosophers on biologists’ turf. He built STS at Virginia Tech (under challenging circumstances) and sustained its momentum when it might well have failed rather than become an important department for training STS scholars. As a true workhorse behind ISHPSSB, tireless promoter of interdisciplinarity, mentor to young scholars across the board, and first rate interdisciplinary scholar of history and philosophy of biology, Dick Burian truly meets the high expectations of the David L. Hull Prize in the spirit of David himself. On behalf of the 2015–2017 David L. Hull Prize Committee and the Society, I am delighted to present the David L. Hull Prize and medal to Richard M. Burian.

James Griesemer
on behalf of the David L. Hull Prize Committee 2015–2017

ISHPSSB Officers and Committee Membership, 2017–2019

Executive Committee

  • President: Marsha Richmond
  • President-elect: Gregory Radick
  • Treasurer: Laura Perini
  • Secretary: Rachel Ankeny
  • Program Co-Chairs: Edna Suárez-Díaz & Sophia Efstathiou
  • Past-president: Michel Morange
  • Student Representative: María José Ferrreira Ruiz



  • Ingo Brigandt
  • Emily Parke
  • Jutta Schickore


  • Nick Hopwood
  • Roberta Millstein
  • Sarah Richardson


  • Rachel Ankeny
  • Maria Kronfeldner
  • Alan Love

ISHPSSB Committees, 2017–2019

Operations Committee

  • Greg Radick (chair)
  • Roberta Millstein
  • Michael Dietrich
  • Chris Young
  • Lindley Darden

Site Selection Committee

  • Greg Radick (chair)
  • Matt Haber
  • Betty Smocovitis
  • Staffan Müller-Wille

Membership Development Committee

  • Ingo Brigandt (co-chair)
  • Alan Love (co-chair)
  • Sarah Richardson
  • Tara Abraham
  • Kele Cable
  • Ruey-Lin Chen
  • Sara Green
  • Daniel Hicks
  • Phillip Honenberger
  • Siobhan McManus
  • Staffan Müller-Wille
  • Emilie Raymer
  • Judy Johns Schloegel
  • Emily Schultz
  • Rick Shang

Communications Committee

  • Sean Valles (chair)
  • Rachel Ankeny
  • Roberta Millstein
  • David Suárez Pascal
  • Trevor Pearce

Committee on Education

  • Charbel El-Hani (co-chair)
  • Isabella Sarto-Jackson (co-chair)
  • Kostas Kampourakis
  • Ariane Droescher
  • Nelio Bizzo
  • Sherrie Lyons

Off-Year Workshops Committee

  • Stuart Glennan (chair)
  • María José Ferrreira Ruiz
  • Jane Maienschein
  • Angela Creager
  • Matt Haber
  • Luis Campos
  • Marsha Richmond

Travel Support Committee

  • Laura Perini (chair)
  • Marsha Richmond
  • Don Opitz
  • Lisa Gannett
  • Evan Arnet

Student Advisory Committee

  • María José Ferrreira Ruiz (chair)
  • Marsha Richmond
  • Celso Neto
  • Evan Arnet
  • Ariel Roffeé

Nominating Committee

  • Michel Morange (chair)
  • Nick Hopwood
  • Isabella Sarto-Jackson
  • Michael Dietrich
  • Christina Brandt
  • Jim Griesemer

David Hull Prize Committee

  • Ana Barahona (chair)
  • Nick Hopwood
  • Roberta Millstein
  • Michel Morange
  • Thomas Pradeu

Werner Callebaut and Marjorie Grene Prize Committee

  • Soraya de Chadarevian (chair)
  • Jutta Schickore
  • Betty Smocovitis
  • Sabina Leonelli
  • Staffan Müller-Wille

Program Committee

  • Edna Suárez-Díaz (co-chair)
  • Sophia Efstathiou (co-chair)
  • Charbel El-Hani
  • Sara Green
  • Matt Haber
  • Kärin Nickelsen
  • Maria Jesus de Santesmases
  • Bruno Strasser


[1] See Report 2013–15, which appeared as part of the Fall 2015 Newsletter.