President’s Corner

Bonnevie Kristine
Kristine Bonnevie

Like so many others, I am looking forward to our upcoming 2019 meeting in Oslo, Norway. It will be the first time the Society meets in Scandinavia, and it is clear that many delights await us. The lovely Blindern campus of the University of Oslo will be hosting us, and the local arrangements committee, chaired by Ageliki Lefkaditou, has been busy preparing for our arrival. The conference program, assembled by Edna Suárez-Díaz and Sophia Efstathiou, reflects both the diversity and high standards that ISH members have come to expect. As a historian of biology, it will be exciting to visit an important center for biological research, particularly for marine biology. And as a scholar of women in biology, it will be a particular pleasure for ISH sessions to take place in the Kristine Bonnevie building, named after the first woman professor in Norway and one of the first professors of genetics in Europe. Bonnevie’s long and remarkable career in zoology, and her role as a much-beloved teacher, will be explored in a session devoted to Norwegian genetics and eugenics. But this is but one of the many stimulating presentations we have in store for us, which reflect the rich diversity of scholarship pursued by ISH members. Much to look forward to indeed!

One of the hallmarks of ISH meetings is the friendly, informal, and relaxed atmosphere that encourages sociability among participants that can spark new friendships and possibly collaborations. Oslo promises to be just such a forum, with many planned activities as well as ample opportunities for both formal and informal social engagement. We will begin with the opening welcome reception on Sunday afternoon, with the sessions beginning on Monday morning and extending through Friday noon. On Thursday afternoon we will hold the General Members Meeting and Awards Ceremony, followed by the conference dinner. Other activities take place during the noontime breaks. Once the sessions end at noon on Friday, there are opportunities to sign up for various excursions in and around Oslo. In short, we have a full venue in store for us.

There are a number of interesting activities scheduled that offer rich opportunities for professional development. The Education Committee (chairs: Isabella Sarto-Jackson and Charbel El-Hani) have organized two events: a publishing roundtable featuring editors of four HPS journals as well as the Springer-Nature HPS editor, and also a mentorship session for graduate students and early career scholars. As is customary, there will be a meeting of the Student Advisory Committee to which all graduate students are cordially invited, followed by that of the Membership Development Committee, which welcomes all members to participate.

The Awards Ceremony on Thursday afternoon will feature a new prize—the Interdisciplinary Organized Session Prize. As reported by the Membership Development Committee (chairs: Ingo Brigandt and Alan Love), one of the aims of this prize is to encourage integrative approaches to biological study, which well reflects a central reason for the founding of the Society. But achieving true interdisciplinarity is, of course, not easy—it requires a concerted effort to synthesize different disciplinary approaches—historical context, philosophical analysis, and the identification of pivotal human, technical, and environmental factors that contribute to knowledge production. So it will be particularly gratifying to congratulate the first recipients of this prize, alongside those who will be receiving the David Hull, Marjorie Grene, and Werner Callebaut Prizes.

Council will be meeting during lunchtime on Monday and Thursday, charged with addressing a number of issues before the Society. I would like to mention one that is particularly important, namely, the need to develop a more robust Respectful Behavior policy for the Society than the rather brief and outdated statement in our bylaws drafted over thirty years ago. We want to ensure that participants at our meetings not only feel welcomed and convivial, but also protected, as best we can, from any semblance of harassing behavior. Although this may not make us immune to problems other societies have recently experienced, it is nonetheless important for us to have a clear policy statement and a viable means of enforcing it. I want to express my thanks to Judy Johns Schloegel, Melinda Fagan, and Sarah Richardson (Council representative) for agreeing to join me in serving on this important ad hoc committee. If you are interested in helping with this work, or indeed have any other issue you may wish to bring to Council’s attention, please contact me.

But the Oslo meeting has not been the only focus for the activities of ISH committees. The Site Selection Committee, as you will read in the report of chair Greg Radick, has worked hard to secure what promises to be a wonderful venue for our 2021 meeting—the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee located near beautiful Lake Michigan. Also, as Sean Valles, chair of the Communications Committee, reports, our webmaster Michel Durinx is close to finalizing changes to the ISH website that will enable us to manage our membership list without needing to pay for an outside provider—wonderful news! Finally, as you will read, the Nominations Committee, chaired by Michael Dietrich (who so kindly took Michel Morange’s place when he was unable to serve), has put together an outstanding slate of candidates who are standing in the 2019 election of officers. Note that voting ends on 21 June. Again, my special thanks to all the Society officers and committee members (and to the Newsletter Editor, David Suárez Pascal) who so freely volunteer their time and energy to advance the Society’s interests and mission.

In conclusion, ISH is a vibrant society dedicated to facilitating intellectual and personal comradery during its biennial meetings. Our 2019 gathering promises to be yet another memorable occasion that enables us to meet, greet, share ideas, research, and professional news, and honor esteemed prize winners. It will be a pleasure for me to welcome you to Oslo!

Marsha Richmond,

ISHPSSB Oslo 2019

Our 2019 meeting is less than one month away! It is amazing to see friends and colleagues from all over the world registering for yet another big ISH meeting. And it is equally heartwarming to see the names of people that we have never met before and will be joining us for the first time.

One of the most important aims for us has been to continue and strengthen the ISH tradition of exciting, inclusive, and informal gatherings. At the same time, we have decided that this meeting will contribute to the engagement with one of the most important challenges of our times, climate change.

Oslo Blindern campus2
Bindern campus

First, we are happy to emphasize that our 2019 meeting welcomes children as part of the audience. The whole city is also rather children-friendly, and kids are literally enjoying all aspects of life with their families. Breastfeeding in public is a well-established norm. We will also provide a dedicated room for taking care of children’s needs. For those who wish to contact local childcare services, please visit the childcare section at the conference website.

Good food and spending time together are also important for ISHPSSB meetings. We will start with a welcome reception, tours and film screenings at The Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology. We recommend arriving early and bringing your swimwear as next to the museum flows a beautiful river with a popular swimming area! Remember to book your free ticket for the welcome reception as we aim to avoid over-catering and thus generating food waste.

The catering services of Funky Fresh Foods, the major business in Norway behind the rising interest in the benefits of veganism – including animal welfare, personal health and the impact on the environment, will be used throughout the conference. We have decided that the conference dinner will include a delicious and fresh standing buffet, while a fully licensed bar for buying drinks separately will be available at the venue. This way we have kept the dinner prices at a reasonable level and hopefully more of us will be able to attend.


The dinner will be held at SALT, a location by the Oslo fjord combining a nomadic art project, saunas and other venues. The art project consists of pyramidal constructions called “hesjer”, which are based on traditional coastal construction methods for drying fish in Northern Norway. The dinner will take place in the Bazaar, a 450sqm Bedouin tent with impulses from nomadic desert cultures in the Middle East and North Africa. If some of us have other plans for dinner, we can still meet later at SALT to discuss in the sauna or at one of the outdoor bars. The nights are long, bright and beautiful in Oslo!

Oslo Blindern aula
The university aula

This year Oslo is the European Green Capital and our public lecture by Fern Wickson will be included in the events program. We hope that Fern’s talk on the interconnections between science and ethics in environmental management will attract a bigger audience in the beautiful and seldom open University Aula.

The main venue for our conference, the University of Oslo Blindern Campus, is easy to access by public transportation. The program allows for plenty of time for lunch breaks either at the on-site facilities or the many downtown restaurants.

Finally, we aim to reduce the amount of paper we use and there will be no traditional name tags in plastic holders. We will also provide all participants with reusable coffee cups and please remember to bring them with you every day.

We hope that you will all appreciate and join in these little efforts to minimize the environmental impact of our event. See you all soon in Oslo!

Ageliki Lefkaditou,
on behalf of the Local Organizing Committee

From the Nominations Committee

The Nominatons Committee has been hard at work identifying a slate of candidates for the ISHPSSB election which is taking place now. Information about the candidates was posted in advance of the election on the ISHPSSB website and members should have already received two emails regarding the election. The first alerting them to the slate of candidates. The second inviting them to vote for their preferred candidates. The election results will be announced at the meeting in Oslo.

Nominees for 2019 ISHPSSB Election

  • Rachel Ankeny
  • Matt Haber
  • Thomas Pradeu
  • Laura Perini
  • Brian McLoone
  • Sarah Roe
Program Co-Chairs
  • Luis Campos and Roberta Millstein
Council Members
  • Andre Ariew
  • Jan Baedke
  • Jenny Bangham
  • Vivette Garcia Deister
  • Joeri Witteveen

Michael Dietrich,
on behalf of the Nominations Committee

From the Membership Development Committee

The primary task of the Membership Development Committee has been to increase diversity, both in terms of the society’s membership composition and the meeting program structure. To continue ISHPSSB as a welcoming society and make future meetings more attractive for various groups of scholars, the Membership Development Committee invites everyone to its committee meeting at ISHPSSB 2019 in Oslo. The meeting is currently scheduled for Wednesday, July 10 from 1:30 to 2:30pm (during the lunch break, right after the Graduate Student Meeting). Beyond current Membership Development Committee members, anyone interested is encouraged to attend in order to make suggestions, convey concerns, learn more about joining the committee, or simply listen to the conversation.

One recent initiative by the Membership Development Committee is the creation of an Interdisciplinary Organized Session Prize. This is intended both to increase the number of sessions from disciplines that have recently been underrepresented at ISHPSSB meetings (especially, historical and social studies of biology), and to encourage more interdisciplinary sessions. The new prize will be awarded for the first time at ISHPSSB 2019 in Oslo. Other initiatives are under discussion, but more will have to be done to increase diversity, not only in terms of disciplinary affiliation, but also in terms of gender, employment status, and global region (among others). To reflect the diversity of the Society’s membership and engage with their perspectives, the Membership Development Committee has been growing over the last few years (now at 15 members). This includes dedicated representatives from Central and South America and from East Asia, as well as graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and independent scholars. With some of the Membership Development Committee members currently functioning as liaisons with other ISHPSSB committees, especially the Program Committee, we are in a good position to collaboratively influence the future shape of the Society and its meetings.

The Membership Development Committee invites everyone to its July 10 lunch break meeting of one hour, and encourages you 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.) beforehand with any comments or suggestions. See you in Oslo!

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

Mentoring Groups on Professional Development at ISHPSSB Meeting 2019

Early career researchers face major challenges, including lack of job security, too few opportunities to pursue their own research interests, fighting to survive in competitive environments, countering the impact of gender stereotypes, living with constant pressure to publish, and often experiencing poor work-life balance.

The ISHPSSB Education Committee has identified several topics that are crucial for achieving career goals and asked established scholars to share their expertise on how to tackle the aforementioned obstacles. These scholars will provide insights based on their own professional knowledge and trajectories how they have met these challenges.

This educational event offers participants the opportunity to meet experts and discuss relevant questions in an open Q&A session in small groups. The mentoring conversations will take place in an informal setting encouraging candid interaction between mentors and mentees.

Format:  Q&A in small groups (Tuesday, 9 July, 12:30-14:30)!

The format comprises 7 mentoring groups on different topics that are considered to be highly relevant for people at an early stage in their career. The session is open to all participants of the ISHPSSB 2019 meeting, but is especially targeted at PhD students and early Postdocs.

Mentees will be assigned on a “first-come, first-served” basis, so please make sure to be in time to get a place in one of the mentoring groups.

Mentors / mentoring groups topics

  • Guido Caniglia (KLI): "Working at the interface between philosophy and science"
  • Charbel El-Hani (Federal University of Bahia): "How to develop projects from research into implementation in society"
  • Arantza Etxeberria (University of the Basque Country): "Challenges for women in research"
  • Sabina Leonelli (University of Exeter): "Negotiating the job market"
  • Laura Nuño de la Rosa García (Complutense University of Madrid): "Challenges for women in research"
  • Thomas Pradeu (University of Bordeaux): "Research group grants: tips and recommendations"
  • Joeri Witteveen (University of Utrecht): "Early career grants: tips and recommendations"

Isabella Sarto-Jackson and Charbel El-Hani,
Chairs of the Education Committee

Round Table on Historical, Philosophical, and Interdisciplinary Writing & Publishing


  • Marsha Richmond (Journal of the History of Biology)
  • Karen Rader (Journal of the History of Biology)
  • Rachel Ankeny (Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences)
  • Giovanni Boniolo (History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences)
  • Roberta Millstein (Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology)
  • Ties Nijssen (Springer/Nature)


Isabella Sarto-Jackson (Biological Theory)


The aim of this round table is to familiarize PhD students and young scholars with the requirements for publishing in an academic journal. Participants will receive information about the reviewing and publishing process.

Young scholars will get acquainted with the idea that publishing their work is an eminent part of communicating ideas. Information conveyed in this workshop aims at encouraging young historians and philosophers to deal early in their career with the subject of how to get their work published and installing an appropriate workflow for publishing their work. Tips and recommendations from the Editors-in-Chief will help to reduce the putative threshold fear of submitting one’s work.


The round table is open to all participants of the ISHPSSB 2019 meeting, but is especially targeted at PhD students and early Post-docs. The panel discussion will cover topics such as reviewing process and tips for authors followed by a general discussion with the audience.

Isabella Sarto-Jackson and Charbel El-Hani,
Chairs of the Education Committee

News from the Student Advisory Committee

The Student Advisory Committee is happy to announce plans and agenda for the 2019 Meeting in Oslo.

Committee meeting

We remind everyone attending the conference that the Committee will hold its biennial meeting. Our main business will include:

  1. Informing other students about what has been done by the Committee during this two-year period.
  2. Discussing relevant matters and concerns on the students’ part.
  3. Discussing matters related to the 2021 conference.
  4. Running elections for the next members of the Committee (the call for nominations for the elections will be announced in due time).

It is important for the Committee, as it is for the Society, that students participate in the meeting and contribute in any way they can: if you have concerns you want to share, or projects and ideas you want to suggest, we would love to hear them! If this is the first time you attend an ISHPSSB conference, the Committee meeting is a great opportunity to learn about the Society. Please, join us!

Early Career Mentoring Lunch

This year, we will have a new edition of the Mentoring Lunch! As students, we know that coffee breaks are short and busy, and sometimes it is almost impossible to get to talk to more experienced people when you need professional advice. Thus, volunteer scholars will get together with students over lunch, in an informal and relaxed setting, to chat about their concerns and offer advice on various aspects of the profession, such as transitioning to the job market, publications, and so on. Even if you think you don’t have a particular question, we encourage you to come!

We welcome everyone to participate in the activities organized by this Committee!

See you in Oslo!

María José Ferreira Ruiz,
Chair of the Student Advisory Committee

Milwaukee 2021 and Call for Proposals to Host the 2023 Meeting

Our colleagues in Oslo are preparing for what will undoubtedly be an outstanding meeting there this July. For the meeting after Oslo, in July 2021, colleagues in Milwaukee, in the US state of Wisconsin, have already submitted an impressive proposal and are hard at work on a full, formal version, to be considered first by Council and then by the General Meeting in Oslo. 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. (Milwaukee, on the shore of Lake Michigan, is ‘water city’). It is also important that the site offers convenient travel infrastructure, affordable housing, and full accessibility. More detailed guidelines about hosting are available from the ISH website.

Do consider hosting an ISH conference at your institution! With the right support – and we’ll help you ensure that you have that support – the organizational work can be kept manageable. It can also be rewarding work, especially in helping to develop local networks and in helping to put your institution more firmly on the HPSSB map for potential graduate students, postdocs, visiting professors, etc.

And it’s 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 me know. The Site Selection Committee will be happy to provide you with information about the process of putting a proposal together.

Expression of interest, proposals, etc. should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Greg Radick,
Chair of the Site Selection Committee

News from the Communications Committee

The ISH website upgrade project is now almost completed. The project has been integrating membership functions into the existing ISH website, functions that have until now been managed using an expensive third-party membership management website. The new ISH website infrastructure is now in place, and old membership data has been imported into the ISH website (except for passwords). The hope is that this will make the site easier to use for members and administrators. And since the third-party membership management site has been the largest recurring expense for ISH, it will save a lot of money (short-term and long-term) to move those functions into our existing website framework. Please keep an eye out for any emails during the changeover, especially regarding creating a new password for your membership account.

Sean A. Valles,
on behalf of the Communications Committee

54th Annual Joint Atlantic Seminar for the History of Biology (JAS-Bio) Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA

On March 30th, 2019, over forty-five historians of biology convened at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, MA, for the 54th Annual Joint Atlantic Seminar for the History of Biology (JAS-Bio). The conference, where many individuals presently working in the field gave their first academic talks, has a long history of fostering collegiality, professional contacts, and a friendly environment where early-career scholars may present their work. This year was no exception, with the weather cooperating for a highly successful seminar. A variety of institutions, topics, time periods, and methodologies were given equal weight on the program, showcasing and celebrating the breadth and depth of scholarship, led by a diverse cohort of early-career researchers, in the history of the life sciences today.

The 2019 JAS-Bio included five sessions. The first, “Sugar and Kitchens: Consumers and Biology in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries,” explored how the histories of both artificial sweeteners and bacteriology proved deeply intertwined with developments in the law, public health, and domestic life during the US Progressive and interwar periods. The second session, “Finding Meaning in the Small Stuff,” brought together the histories of ethology, metabolism, and botany with cultural and feminist approaches, exploring the manifold scientific meanings taken on by “small” entities, from bees to bacteria to plants, in the 20th-century life sciences.

The third session, “Knowledge Claims and Epistemic Persuasion,” kicked off the afternoon. The speakers employed analyses of material, video, and archival sources to explore how racial illustrations in cranial collections, sociobiological research and rhetoric, and radiation-damaged chromosomes have historically taken on powerful, poignant epistemological valances, from eighteenth-century phrenology through the Cold War. The speakers in the fourth session, “Genes and the Present: Ways of Knowing in Molecular Biology,” adopted a more present-oriented approach. They explored how recreating evolution in laboratory settings can help scholars to re-assess the historical roles played by technologies in molecular biology, and how STS approaches might inform key science policy questions and real-world translations of these policies, such as in control of invasive species. Finally, due to popular demand following the 53rd Annual JAS-Bio at Princeton, the 2019 seminar ended with an hour-long workshop on computational methods.

Kate MacCord (MBL) and Kathryn Maxson Jones (Princeton University and MBL) organized the conference. Funding was generously provided by the MBL McDonnell Initiative, courtesy of the James S. McDonnell Foundation. While the JAS-Bio is traditionally a venue for graduate students and scholars from East Coast programs, this year’s event included researchers from eight different institutions around the world, including Arizona State University, Dalhousie University, and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. The 2019 coordinators would like to warmly thank all who participated, including the speakers and the attendees; the MBL’s events and dining staff; and finally the McDonnell Foundation for making such a productive and enjoyable event possible. The 55th Annual JAS-Bio will take place in 2020 at the Johns Hopkins University. For more information, please contact Sharon Kingsland (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Kathryn Maxson Jones and Kate MacCord,
54th JAS-Bio Organizers


This newsletter was edited by David Suárez Pascal (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) employing LibreOffice and Scribus (both open source and freely available). I thank Marsha Richmond for her help, as well as to all the members who contributed to this issue with their texts.

Picture “The Arctic Pyramid (SALT)” courtesy of Flickr user Saibot7791.