President’s Report

It seems particularly fitting, as those of us in the Northern hemisphere finish up the 2017–18 academic year and start the very welcomed summer break, to take stock of what has been happening with the Society since the Fall Newsletter appeared. Most recently we learned of the passing of our friend and colleague Jean Gayon on 28 April. Jean was not only one of ISH’s founders and a very active member, but his scholarship was incredibly valued. Darwinism’s Struggle for Survival: Heredity and the Hypothesis of Natural Selection (1992; English translation 1998), in particular, is both a seminal work in Darwin studies as well as a model for how integrating history and philosophy can deepen our understanding of biology’s past. He will be sorely missed. I am very pleased that Jean’s longtime colleague and friend Dick Burian has contributed a lovely piece on his work for this Newsletter.

Although ISH meets only every other year, it should not be assumed that little happens in the interim. In fact, as you will see when you peruse the various committee reports, a considerable amount of activity is ongoing. The Program Committee, along with the Local Organizers, have been busy preparing for our meeting in Oslo, 7–12 July 2019. We have signed the contract and the committees are working on critical logistics, including identifying some very exciting plenary speakers. For folks who like to plan in advance, and who might be interested in attending the History of Science Society’s first meeting outside the U.S., we have recently learned that HSS’s meeting in Utrecht, The Netherlands, will take place 23–27 July 2019 rather than in early August. This is great news for people who want to attend both and may wish to organize a nice holiday sandwiched in between. Finally, in terms of more distant planning, see the report of the Site Selection Committee, which is facilitating a proposal to host our 2021 meeting and encouraging bids to host our 2023 meeting. This is excellent, considering that ISH prides itself on offering members attractive meeting venues that alternate between different continents!

But why wait until 2019 to get together with ISH friends? See the report of the Off-Year Workshop Committee, which has lined up two very exciting workshops for 2018. Take a look at their descriptions and note the respective deadlines for submitting applications to participate and apply for travel funding. And looking to the joint HSS-PSA meeting in Seattle, 1–4 November, note the opportunity available to graduate students. Along with the presidents of SHOT and HSS, I will be chairing a special Flashtalks session meant to showcase a student’s current work and allow for helpful audience feedback. The Flashtalks format is different: each speaker is allotted five minutes and one PowerPoint slide, followed by ample discussion time. Moreover, participants not only appear on the program (making them eligible for institutional support), but are eligible to apply for NSF travel grants administered through HSS. The deadline to apply is 11 June 2018 via the HSS meeting website.

In addition to meeting-related activities, we have also made progress on a number of other fronts. As you may know, Council has been working on updating our website for several years, aiming for a more attractive and robust site. As you will learn from the Communications Committee report, we are getting closer to achieving these goals, thanks to the efforts of our webmaster Michel Durinx. We may soon be able to handle our election surveys ourselves (rather than paying a third-party) as well as facilitate the work of our various committees. We will keep you abreast of how this initiative develops.

Council also approved several other initiatives. On the recommendation of the Hull Prize Committee, we will now offer a cash award to recipients of the Hull Prize (the only one without a monetary gift). This is especially appropriate given that the prize winner is expected to attend the meeting and will now be able to count on a possible travel stipend. We also voted to expand travel funding in the future to allow postdocs and independent scholars with a demonstrated need to apply, with the stipulation that graduate students remain our highest priority; the amount of travel support available will vary depending on the meeting site. Council has authorized the Treasurer, at her suggestion, to transfer some of our cash funds into interest-bearing accounts. Finally, as you will read in the report of the Membership Development Committee, Council approved whole-heartedly the idea to create a new Interdisciplinary Organized Session Prize, which we hope encourages collaboration between the different disciplinary areas represented in ISHPSSB. So, it is clear that ISH remains vibrant even in ostensible “off-periods,” and I want to express my gratitude to all the Society’s officers and committee members (especially David Suárez Pascal, who so ably produces our Newsletter) who so generously volunteer their time and expertise to help steer our Society. ISH is very fortunate indeed!

Marsha Richmond

On Jean Gayon and his Importance to ISHPSSB

Jean Gayon died at age 68 on April 28, 2018, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. From 2001 until his retirement in 2015, he was Professor of Philosophy and History of Science at the Université de Paris 1 — Panthéon-Sorbonne and a member of the Institut d’Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences et des Techniques, an institution that he directed from 2011 to 2015. He planned to complete a long list of projects after his retirement but, alas, his cancer, diagnosed shortly after his retirement, cut his life short. In spite of his onerous medical regime, he was able to live a full life with his family and friends, working when he could until the last few months. But, sadly, most of the projects he hoped to complete remain unfinished.

This brief appreciation is devoted to Gayon’s contributions to ISHPSSB (hereafter abbreviated ISH). It focuses on Gayon’s role in the formation of the ISH, his contributions to ISH’s ethos, and his administrative and intellectual service to the Society. To begin, here is some background. ISH was formed after three informal summer meetings on history, philosophy, and social studies of biology, held in 1983, 1985, and 1987. Gayon attended the second and third of these meetings. Although he had no publications as yet (his first book chapter appeared in 1987, his first journal article in 1988), by 1985 he was a thoroughly grounded interdisciplinary scholar. He had earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in philosophy in 1966 and 1970 and passed the Agrégation de philosophie in 1972, which enabled him to become a professor of philosophy in a lycée. But he delayed publishing in order to follow some advice from Georges Canguilhem, who told him that to become a historian-philosopher of biology he should do serious graduate work in biology. Accordingly, he devoted nine years to graduate work in that discipline while teaching full-time as a Professor of Philosophy in a lycée near Paris. He earned a Master’s in Biology in 1982, after which he did advanced research on evolutionary genetics in a Drosophila laboratory for a year and spent part of the summer of 1984 in the US on a Fulbright Study Fellowship, conducting interviews and examining archives relevant to the intertwined histories of population genetics and evolutionary biology. He then decided to do a doctorate in philosophy rather than biology, completing an enormous dissertation in 1989, entitled “Darwin et l'après Darwin: histoire de l'hypothèse de sélection naturelle.” This became his first book, published in Paris under the same title (Kimé, 1992); it was later translated into English, with some revisions, as Darwinism's Struggle for Survival: Heredity and the Hypothesis of Natural Selection (Cambridge University Press, 1998).

This background helps explain how Gayon fit so well into the group that organized the informal summer meetings. He easily conveyed to them his way of working, which exemplified the ideals that that they were articulating. He was deeply devoted to interdisciplinary research, adept at working collaboratively across disciplinary and national boundaries, and was developing methods suitable for building collaborative teams to pursue such work. He hoped to build internationally active institutions that would foster interdisciplinary research in history and philosophy of biology, including research into the social and sociological circumstances that foster interdisciplinary research within biology and about biology. His own pathway to interdisciplinary expertise demonstrated both the joys and the hazards of such research. His experience of those hazards enabled him to highlight the need for extensive support for young scholars embarking on interdisciplinary work. That need is one of ISH’s central concerns. He also stressed the reciprocal character of interdisciplinary work, insisting that he had gained more from encountering other’s ways of collaborating and alternative styles of biological, historical, and philosophical research than he provided to those others. Put more generally, the benefits of interdisciplinary work often stem from respectful reciprocal relationships between students and teachers and from respectful clashes between people who face a common problem with conflicting disciplines, national traditions, or perspectives.

Gayon’s administrative and intellectual contributions to ISH over the years are based on this strong ethos. In spite of his heavy commitments elsewhere, he attended well over half of ISH’s meetings and served on numerous committees, for example, Council 2007–2013, Nominations, and Grene Prize Evaluation (both multiple times). His most extensive service to the society was as Co-chair of the Program and Local Arrangements committees for the 2013 meeting of ISH in Montpellier, France. Thanks in part to his directorship of the IHPST, he could draw on his extensive contacts to obtain strong financial and organizational support for the meeting; he devoted a great deal of energy and many resources, including help from students and colleagues at the IHPST, into making this meeting a success. His extensive contributions to the ISH meetings were usually in multi-disciplinary sessions with participants from at least two countries. That was always true for the sessions that he organized and generally true for the sessions that his students organized, many of whom were internationals. Indeed, he utilized his extensive contacts with colleagues and students from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Great Britain, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, the US, and many more countries to optimize the interdisciplinary and international representation on a large variety of topics. He was always happy to suggest people who could deal with particular topics to session organizers while increasing the diversity of perspectives represented.

Jean Gayon will long remain in the memories of many members of ISH not only for the quality of his research and of his students, but also for his contributions along the lines described above to our Society.

Richard M. Burian
Prof. Emeritus, Virginia Tech

ISHPSSB Off-Year 2018 Workshops

The Off-Year Workshop Committee issued a call for workshop proposals for the Summer/Fall 2018. The committee decided to sponsor two workshops by providing advertising, and some funds to support graduate student travel. The two workshops are: Interdisciplinarity in the life sciences and their philosophy and Regeneration Across Complex Living Systems: From Regenerating Microbiomes to Ecosystems Resiliency. (See the workshops’ descriptions below.)

The committee encourages ISH members to take advantage of these wonderful opportunities. Additionally, the committee wishes to encourage ISH members to begin thinking of topics and locations and funding sources for off-year workshops in 2020. To reiterate the basic goals of ISH workshops,

  • 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.

The members of the Off-Year Workshop Committee stand ready to provide any help we can, including to brainstorm about possible funding sources, venues, and ways to foster interdisciplinarity. So please talk among yourselves, and reach out to us.

Stuart Gleenan,
on behalf of the Off-Year Workshop Committee

ISHPSSB Off-Year Workshop 2018. Interdisciplinarity in the Life Sciences and their Philosophy

A very appreciative thanks to ISHPSSB for selecting the 5th European Advanced School in the Philosophy of the Life Sciences (EASPLS) as one of their Off-Year Workshops 2018. The event on the topic of "Interdisciplinarity in the Life Sciences and their Philosophy" is organized by Sabina Leonelli and Thomas Reydon and will be held from 10 to 14 September 2018 at the KLI (Klosterneuburg near Vienna, Austria). The event will be dedicated to the memory of Jean Gayon, an exceptional scholar, historian and philosopher of biology and one of the founding fathers of EASPLS. His intellectual curiosity, kindness, and philanthropy will not be forgotten. The school will continue the spirit of mentoring junior researchers and fostering interdisciplinary discourse.

The EASPLS is characterized by its unique format: the schedule mixes presentations of senior researchers and presentations by PhD students and young post-doctoral researchers. The format accommodates presentations on full papers, commentaries on senior researchers’ presentations, and contributions to roundtable discussions moderated by senior researchers. Read more details concerning the topic and speakers on the webpage of the KLI. Travel grants for graduate students accepted by the program committee will be provided by ISHPSSB.

Sabina Leonelli and Thomas Reydon (School Directors),
Isabella Sarto-Jackson (Local Organizer)

ISHPSSB Off-Year Workshop 2018. Regeneration Across Complex Living Systems: From Regenerating Microbiomes to Ecosystems Resiliency

Marine Biological Laboratory seen from the air
The Marine Biological Laboratory (courtesy of the MBL)

This ISHPSSB off-year workshop will focus on understanding the phenomenon of regeneration across complex living systems, asking the question of how regeneration has been understood, defined, and utilized in scientific research at different scales of living systems, both now and in the past. The workshop will begin with the premise that all complex living systems have some capacity to repair and to maintain themselves in the face of events that cause disturbances or damage. For example, microbial communities can regenerate to achieve the same function even as species composition changes, spinal neurons in a lamprey can regenerate function even though their cellular wiring changes, and ecosystems can maintain a level of resiliency in the face of changing conditions. In all instances, while these biological systems undergo stress and damage, their parts can coordinate responses to provide repair. But do we mean the same thing by regeneration in each case? How do regenerating parts “know” how to cooperate to make the individuals and systems healthy and whole again? How does an understanding of one level inform the others? What does regeneration, particularly across levels, mean for conceptions of individuality?

Marine Biological Laboratory fontispiece above entrance
Fontispiece of the Lillie building

Over the course of two days, participants in the workshop will explore the historical, philosophical, and scientific foundations of regeneration across living systems. The organizers welcome papers that address any aspect of regeneration at any level of living systems. Please contact Kate MacCord (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) with any questions about the workshop.

Pre-Registration (for those who wish to submit an abstract and/or request travel support)

For those who wish to give a presentation and/or would like to request travel support, please fill out the pre-registration link. Funding requests and/or presentation abstracts received after 11:59pm EST on July 15, 2018, will not receive priority. Presenters whose abstracts are accepted will receive access to full travel funding. Travel support for those not presenting will be available on an as-needed basis, but funding is limited. The amount of travel support provided to each participant will depend on the number of requests.


A full registration will open on August 1, 2018, after speakers have been selected and those receiving travel support have been notified. More information on the link will be sent after the close of pre-registration.

When: October 22 & 23, 2018
Where: Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA
Submission Due Date: 11:59pm EST, July 15th, 2018

Kate MacCord & Kathryn Maxson-Jones

Toward the 2019 ISHPSSB Meeting in Oslo

This has been a long winter for Norway, but we are finally getting some sun and have started working on securing resources for the 2019 meeting. Several funding deadlines are approaching during the next two months and we are doing our best to make sure we get the support of the Norwegian Research Council, the Science Studies Colloquium at the University of Oslo (UiO), the UiO: Life Science interdisciplinary strategic area, and the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters.

Meanwhile, we have also hired a conference coordinator, Sofie Scheen Jahnsen, who will be helping us deal with all practical aspects of this great gathering and will be providing all participants with tips and instructions. Sofie has a Master’s in Archaeology and is now working towards completing her second one in Museology. She has worked with the development of the exhibition “FOLK — from racial types to DNA-sequences” at the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology, which participants will have the opportunity to visit in 2019.

The development of the ISHPSSB 2019 website is under way and we expect it to be fully functional in June 2018. We will keep you posted through all possible channels, including the ISHPSSB Facebook page.

Finally, we have booked rooms for up to fifteen parallel sessions at the University of Oslo Blindern campus located within easy access from the city center. The campus is situated at the calm and leafy western outskirts of Oslo. The Department of Biosciences building “Kristine Bonnevies Hus” (named after the biologist and first female professor of the University) is centrally located in the campus and will serve as the main location for the event.

You will be hearing from us again soon!

Ageliki Lefkaditou,
on behalf of the Local Arrangements Committee

Membership Development Committee Report

Ever since the Montreal meeting in 2015, the Membership Development Committee has been growing and is now at 15 members. The motivation for this is that the committee should reflect the diversity of ISHPSSB members, especially in terms of gender, employment status, global region, and disciplinary affiliation. Concomitantly, discussions within the committee have seen the enhancement of diversity (of both the ISHPSSB membership and the ISHPSSB meeting participants) as a primary mission.

Compared to the past four-person committee, the enlarged Membership Development Committee exhibits less personnel turnover between meetings and retains a greater memory of committee work. This makes it possible to plan more effectively and address long-term goals. The committee now includes representatives from Central and South America and from East Asia, as well as a graduate student, a postdoctoral fellow, and independent scholars. One point that has become obvious is that the Membership Development Committee cannot be effective in isolation, but only in communication with other ISHPSSB committees. As a result, some of the Membership Development Committee members are now functioning as liaisons with other committees. For example, Sarah Richardson and Ingo Brigandt are coordinating with the Program Committee for ISHPSSB 2019.

One initiative coming from the Membership Development Committee is intended not only to increase the number of sessions from disciplines that have recently been underrepresented at ISHPSSB meetings (especially, historical and social studies of biology), but also to encourage more interdisciplinary sessions, which could attract session attendance by meeting participants across different disciplines. To this end, the ISHPSSB council has approved the creation of an Interdisciplinary Organized Session Prize, to be awarded for the first time at ISHPSSB 2019 “to the organizer and participants of an organized session that combines researchers or methodologies from several of the ISHPSSB disciplines (for example, history, philosophy, sociology / STS, and biology, among others).” The session receiving the prize will be expected to include history and/or sociology of science and technology. (Details will be announced with the call for papers, but the basic idea is that organizers can self-nominate their session proposal as interdisciplinary, so that everyone developing a session proposal is encouraged to assemble an interdisciplinary group of presenters.) Moreover, the Program Committee has been encouraged to feature several suitable sessions on the ISHPSSB 2019 program as “interdisciplinary.” There also have been discussions about the possible organization of an invited interdisciplinary plenary session (in addition to the plenary lectures by individual speakers).

At the Membership Development Committee meeting at ISHPSSB 2019 in Oslo, we will welcome all participants, be it to join the committee or to convey concerns or suggestions. In the meantime, you are encouraged to e-mail Ingo Brigandt (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Alan Love (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Ingo Brigandt and Alan Love
Co-Chairs of the Membership Development Committee

News from the Student Advisory Committee

During a wonderful conference in São Paulo the grad students had a lunch meeting on Wednesday 19th to run elections and to discuss general issues. The Treasurer and chair of the Travel Support Committee, Laura Perini, was also present for the first half of the meeting.

The Student Advisory Committee meeting began with an illuminating Q&A session with Laura on travel funds for students. She explained the current methodology regarding the documentation required to apply, the reimbursement process, and the criteria of allocation and how the different circumstances of the students are taken into consideration. In 2017, due to geographic reasons, Latin American participation was remarkable, so we also had the opportunity to discuss details of the funding system in some Latin American countries. This was an enriching conversation for everyone involved.

It was noted by a number of participants at the meeting that not everyone had learned about the funding opportunities offered by the Society until it was too late to apply. We agreed on this being a serious issue, since funding grad students so they can attend the conferences is one of the main missions of the Society. Therefore, we discussed ways to amend this situation, such as having the travel funding availability announced in the acceptance letter.

Next, we ran elections for Committee members for the 2017–2019 period. The new members are María Ferreira Ruiz (University of Buenos Aires, chair and Student Representative to Council), Ariel Roffé (University of Buenos Aires), Celso Neto (University of Calgary), Evan Arnet (Indiana University Bloomington), and Mark Canciani (University of the Basque Country). Due to organizational issues on the students’ side, attendance at this year’s meeting was low, which was reflected in the number of self-nominations. After the election, we considered a number of ways to ensure continuity and to increase participation for the next conference in Oslo.

Last, we addressed our concerns for the next conference, and we discussed proposals and responsibilities for the 2017–2019 period. Our concern is that the next conference, to be held in Oslo, needs to be accessible for students around the world. Thus, we aim to encourage grad student participation and foster communication between the institution and students, as well as organizing the early career mentoring meeting, which did not take place this year.

The Student Advisory Committee thanks everyone who attended the meeting and the Council members for their assistance and kind welcoming.

See you in Oslo!

María J. Ferreira Ruiz
Chair of the Student Advisory Committee

Report from the Communications Chair

After the role of ISH Secretary passed from me to Rachel Ankeny in 2017, I was asked by President Marsha Richmond to serve as Communications Chair with the task of exploring an expansion of the ISH website, which had been redesigned in 2015. As you may have noticed when updating your memberships, ISH has long used a third-party vendor (OneFirePlace, under a software sytem called Wild Apricot) to manage membership functions. After webmaster Michel Durinx (Centimedia) successfully updated the main public-facing website for ISH, the ISH Council became more interested in asking Michel Durinx to expand the website’s capacity to also include the membership functions. It turns out that this would save money in the short term and long term (the third party website has continually raised its prices), data will remain secure (of course that is very important!), be simpler for the council to manage in the long term, and should also allow for new functions like the ability to host member polls/elections and discussion groups for subsets of members or committees.

The Council has reviewed a website expansion proposal and voted to approve it. Details are still being worked out, but a draft version of the new system will be completed this year and I will pass along updates about migration of member data, and any other changes. More soon…

Sean Valles
Chair of the Communications Committee

Portland 2021 and Call for Proposals to Host the 2023 Meeting

Our colleagues in Oslo are preparing for what will undoubtedly be a successful meeting there in July 2019. For the meeting after Oslo, in July 2021, colleagues in Portland have already submitted an impressive proposal and are hard at work on a full, formal version to be submitted for Council approval. Looking further ahead still, the Site Selection Committee cordially invites ISHPSSB members to propose potential sites for the July 2023 meeting.

Our tradition of alternating between different sides of the Atlantic would suggest that the 2023 meeting should be held in Europe. We would be especially glad for proposals from colleagues in Central and Eastern Europe, as ISH has never met there. But it has also been several years (2009) since we’ve had an ISH meeting in Australia, and there are of course a fair few continents where we have never met. Proposals for sites beyond Europe will be welcome as well as proposals for European venues.

Proposers should bear in mind that the Society prefers to meet in places that are appealing destinations, given that for many participants the meeting is a welcome occasion to combine work with some well-deserved holidays. It is also important that the site offer convenient travel infrastructure, affordable housing, and full accessibility. More detailed guidelines about hosting are available from the ISH website.

We welcome an initial expression of interest for hosting the 2023 meeting by 15 September 2018. The deadline for the full proposal hasn’t been set, but it will not be until after the 2019 Oslo meeting.

And it is not too early to begin thinking ahead to the 2025 meeting! If you might be interested in the possibility of hosting an ISH meeting at your institution, please let us know. The Site Selection Committee will be happy to provide you with information about the process of putting a proposal together.

Proposals should be sent to Greg Radick (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Greg Radick
Chair of the Site Selection Committee

Call to Organize an ISHPSSB Session at the 2018 PSA Meeting

Dear ISHPSSB members:

We have received an invitation to organize a cognate society session at the upcoming Philosophy of Science Association (PSA) biennial meeting in Seattle (1–4 November 2018). The idea is to promote broader representation of work in philosophy of science than has traditionally been represented on the regular program of the PSA conference. The Cognate Society sessions will take place on Thursday morning, 1 November. Each cognate society whose proposal is approved will be allotted 90 minutes. PSA will provide meeting rooms and AV equipment. Sessions and participants will be listed on the official conference program and on-line schedules, and all session participants must register for the conference.

Proposals must include:

  • The title of the proposed session
  • A short descriptive summary of the proposal (100–200 words)
  • A description of the topic and a justification of its current importance to the discipline (up to 1000 words)
  • Titles and abstracts of all papers, with up to 500 words for the title and abstract of each paper (or equivalent information for alternative formats); for a 90 minute session, we would expect 3–5 papers (including a commentator if desired)
  • A list of participants and either an abbreviated curriculum vitae or short biographical description (not to exceed 1 page) for each participant, including any non-presenting co-authors.
  • Institutional affiliation and e-mail addresses for all participants, including any non-presenting co-authors.

Please note that in accordance with current PSA policy:

  • No previously published paper may be presented at the PSA meeting.
  • No one will be permitted to present more than once at PSA2018. A scholar may appear as co-author on more than one paper or symposium talk, but may present at PSA2018 only once (excluding presentations at the poster forum).
  • Any individual can be part of only one symposium proposal for submission to ISHPSSB in which he or she is a presenting author.

We welcome submission of complete session proposals by email to Rachel Ankeny (Secretary of ISHPSSB) at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 1 June 2018. The decision about which proposals to forward to PSA will be made by the ISHPSSB Executive Committee by the end of June, in order to comply with PSA deadlines. In addition to consideration of quality and coherence of the session, the ISHPSSB Executive Committee also will consider the extent of interdisciplinarity as well as the significance of the topic as part of the selection criteria. We are aware of the high rate of rejection for PSA symposia given the very large number of submissions, so we encourage rejected symposia proposals so long as they meet the criteria above.

Rachel Ankeny


This newsletter was edited by David Suárez Pascal. I thank Marsha Richmond for her help, as well as to all the members who contributed to this newsletter despite it being a very busy time of the year.