Radick Greg 2019President’s Corner

I get it now. I get why you all talk about these meetings so much.

Thus an ISH newcomer — a graduate student — a few hours after the close of the 2019 conference in Oslo. I knew exactly what she meant. Whether it’s your first meeting or your umpteenth, if you love getting serious about biology past and present, then an ISH conference is kind of a dream. So many of the scholars you admire are here, giving talks on their latest research, contributing questions and comments in other sessions (including — wow — your own), and generally milling around in a way that makes for endless opportunities for informal discussion. No less exciting is the chance to meet and learn from all the people, at every career stage, whose work you hadn’t come across before but who, over these five days, can become not just dear colleagues but friends for life.

A lot of what makes an ISH conference so successful lies, it seems to me, in the Society’s endearingly awkward name. By being explicitly international, and also by embracing historians AND philosophers AND social scientists AND all the scholars whose work lies across and between those categories, the Society thumbs its nose at borders, geographic and disciplinary. The spirit is one of welcome, wherever you come from. Yet within all the diversity there remains the unifying interest in biology. The result is a meeting which, at its best, offers unrivalled scope for sharing work-in-progress with fellow specialists while also maximizing chances for encountering new ideas and perspectives which are just the right distance from where you’re at now to be surprising but stimulating. You leave the conference energized — and looking forward to the next one.

I’m delighted to report that, at the General Members Assembly at Oslo, there was universal support for a proposal to hold the next ISH meeting in Milwaukee, on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, from 11–16 July 2021. Please save the dates! And if you attended the Oslo meeting, please take a moment to fill out the online survey which landed in your email inbox some while back. A feature of recent meetings has been a growing emphasis on sustainability, and that’s sure to continue at the Milwaukee meeting. (For all its virtues, internationality alas brings the downside of a large carbon footprint: something we might usefully set aside some time to discuss in Milwaukee.) Another ‘keeper’ is the new Interdisciplinary Organized Session Prize, which created a palpable buzz at Oslo. Generally, though, your feedback is vital in helping us see more clearly what’s working and where, at all scales, there’s room for improvement.

Typically ISH conferences nowadays are on the large side, attracting between 400 to 800 attendees. Although size has all sorts of advantages, smaller meetings have their virtues too, as the Society recognizes through its support of the ‘off-year workshops’ program. For anyone unfamiliar with this scheme, the basic idea is that, for a small workshop taking place in a year between the biennial ISH conferences (so, next up is 2020), and dealing with an ISH-y theme in an ISH-y way, the Society will supply travel subsidies for graduate students from other countries, thus turning the workshop into an international one. The Off-Year Workshop Committee will also help out with publicity and more general advice. For more details, please see the 2020 Call for Proposals below — and please spread the word at your institution and beyond.

ISH runs on volunteer energy, much of it organized into a committee structure whose membership gets refreshed every two years. I’d like to reiterate the thanks I expressed in Oslo, on behalf of the Society, to all those who served during 2017‒19, and to all those who will be serving in 2019‒21. It never ceases to amaze me that professionally super-busy people nevertheless make room in their working lives to help keep the ISH show on the road, from our communications, to our several prizes, to the immense work that goes into planning and then delivering a major international conference. In the latter connection, while memories of Oslo are still fresh, I’d like especially to underscore our gratitude to Ageliki Lefkaditou, Chair of the Local Arrangements Committee; Edna Suárez-Díaz and Sophia Efstathiou, Program Co-Chairs; and Marsha Richmond and Michel Morange, respectively President and Past-President. (In ISH, ‘Past-President’ is not an honorific but a job title, with responsibilities galore, now being taken up by Marsha with her customary good grace.)

Below you’ll find reports from the 2017–19 Committees, including the citations for the 2019 prize awards. The awards ceremony in Oslo was one of the conference’s many highlights. Another was the two-session memorial celebration of the life and work of Jean Gayon (1949–2018), who in so many ways exemplified the Society’s ideals of interdisciplinary scholarship, cosmopolitan outlook, and generosity of spirit. We mourn the passing of Jean, and also, more recently, of Karola Stotz (1963–2019). For those who didn’t know Karola, Colin Allen beautifully captures her presence and achievement in his moving tribute, also below.

In Oslo, after Marsha formally handed over the Presidency, I stressed what a privilege and a thrill it is for me to hold this role in a Society that’s so close to my heart. I first ‘got it’ twenty years ago, when I was a graduate student myself, attending the ISH conference in Oaxaca, and I’ve been a regular ISH-goer ever since. Working with the new Officers, Council members, and Committee Chairs as we begin turning our attention to 2021 and beyond has already been a great pleasure, and I look forward to keeping everyone updated on progress over the next couple of years. Needless to say, if you have any thoughts you’d like to share with me about the Society and its future, or you’d perhaps like to join one of the Committees, or you’re interested in hosting the 2023 or 2025 or 2027 meetings, I’d be delighted to hear from you. Just drop me a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Greg Radick, President

Past-President’s Report*

Richmond MarshaIt has been an incredible honor and privilege to serve as President of ISH. Has it been work? I won’t lie: yes, it has. But it is work that I have never regretted, for I believe in the value of this Society and have been motivated, as have all past presidents, by the desire to foster its interests as best I could. In this I am no different from the Society’s current and past officers and all committee chairs and members. Simply put, there is something about ISHPSSB that both engages and excites members.

ISHPSSB is celebrating a milestone in 2019 — this is the 30th anniversary of the Society’s existence. I thus think it is appropriate, as I move from being President to Past-President, to reflect briefly on the status of the Society at this juncture in its history.

First, ours is a Society that by design is minimalist — we have rejected the route that universities and so many other academic societies have taken over the course of the past decade and more and have, as a result, kept administrative costs at bay. We have a core of dedicated officers and committee members who freely volunteer their time, but no executive director nor executive office requiring monetary support. And at ISH Guelph in 2005, members voted down a proposal to establish a Society journal. While this minimalist approach serves to keep our membership dues incredibly low (especially when compared to other societies), there are also some trade-offs that we may need to consider in the future. I itemize a few here.

Administrative responsibilities for the officers are beginning to require an increasingly larger time commitment. In the future, this may restrict our ability to attract talented members to assume leadership positions.

Organizing our biennial meetings is becoming more challenging. We have long since moved from early meetings with c. 100 participants to ones with over 500 participants (as in Oslo) or even 700 (as in Montpellier and Montreal). Finding members (and host institutions) willing to take on the burden of organizing such a large meeting is already getting increasingly difficult. We may need to think about how to lessen this load. For example, should we offer local organizers the ability to hire a dedicated meeting planner to lessen their load? This might entail either increasing registration fees or membership dues. Should we consider the (albeit unattractive) option of ever meeting in a large hotel or convention center rather than on a university campus? While we all agree that such venues do not fit well with ISH culture, what if no one steps forward in the future to offer to host the next meeting? While not desirable, it might be necessary to at least consider such alternatives given that our Society continues to grow.

Second, changes are afoot in our profession as well as in society. One is the Society’s disciplinary mix. Over the past decade or more, ISHPSSB has become more ISP, with very little H & SS added in. I applaud the Membership Development Committee, which took the lead, along with the Program Committee for the Oslo meeting, in attempting to encourage interdisciplinarity within the meeting sessions. At Oslo, we celebrated the first prize given to a session that consciously attempted to integrate Historical and Social perspectives into a Philosophical analysis of Biology. The Interdisciplinary Organized Session prize is a good first step in facilitating such integration. However, we, as both scholars and educators, must do more to further this original founding aim of the Society. We need to invite and welcome more historians and sociologists of biology to come into our fold and guide our students about how to integrate broader disciplinary perspectives into their scholarship. The wonderful homage to Jean Gayon held in Oslo was a great tribute to someone who attempted to do just this in his own work and institutional contexts.

Another external challenge is the continuing poor job market in our fields. Fortunately, ISHPSSB has from the outset focused on fostering new generations of scholars by including them in our governing structure, promoting their social organization in the Graduate Student Committee, and by providing funding to help them attend biennial meetings as well as off-year workshops. In 2017, Council expanded our support by offering postdocs and independent scholars the opportunity to apply for travel stipends. In addition, the Committee on Education has done a terrific job organizing various events at our meetings that serve to mentor students and junior scholars in ways that promote the professional activities of our specific disciplines. Finally, we have in past years supported off-year workshops, which are meant to introduce graduate students to certain topics and/or areas of interest ripe for future research. Recently, however, few have come forward with proposals to host such workshops. This is an area for future development.

Finally, and relatedly, we need better to reflect new societal developments that may impinge on the Society. One pressing need is for us to acknowledge how the #MeToo movement affects ISHPSSB. Our society is widely regarded as friendly and holding meetings at which members shed social pretensions to simply come together to share our scholarship, mentor junior scholars, and renew and form new friendships. Still, we must also acknowledge that poor behavior may nonetheless occur. We want all participants at our meetings to feel safe and protected from any kind of behavior that makes them feel uncomfortable or in any way threatened. Accordingly, in 2018, I formed an Ad-Hoc Committee on Respectful Behavior, which carefully reviewed best practices among a host of comparable societies and drew up a draft Respectful Behavior policy for ISHPSSB. This was presented to Council and approved in Oslo. Not only is this policy now present in our Operations Manual, but it will also appear on the abstract submission form for future meetings. Going forward, President Greg Radick has tasked the Operations Committee with the large job of developing a mechanism for dealing with such behavior, should it ever arise. In this ISHPSSB aligns well with other societies and current demands.

But enough for challenges. As I transition to my role as Past President, I want to conclude by highlighting why we all love coming to ISH meetings. It was the vision of the Society’s founders three decades ago to create an opportunity for historians, philosophers, and scholars interested in social studies of biology to come together and share ideas and methodologies in a casual environment. In a paper in the session on “New historical and philosophical perspectives on quantitative genetics” at ISH Oslo, Greg Radick introduced a phrase that I hope continues to have currency in the future (and I note that he uses it in his President’s report). When we come to ISH meetings, we are able to feel liberated from the normal disciplinary constraints and protocols that govern other professional societies—this is what Greg characterizes as thinking ISH-y. That is, our meetings offer the freedom to try out new ideas, arguments, formulations, and approaches without fear of being derided but with the expectation of getting valuable feedback. Thinking ISH-y means the ability to form new scholarly and interdisciplinary collaborations, as well as to mentor junior scholars outside our normal institutional boundaries in ways that enhance their (and our) professional development. In short, thinking ISH-y well encapsulates the reason why so many of us look forward to attending the next ISHPSSB meeting!

*This text has been slightly modified from the report presented to Council last July, and necessarily abbreviated for presentation at the Oslo Members meeting and Awards Ceremony in Oslo.

Marsha Richmond, Past-President

Karola Stotz (1963–2019)

It is all too easy to lapse into clichés when trying to convey the sense of Karola's presence: a bundle of energy, larger than life, a force of nature. But clichés persist because they are effective at capturing the truth. Anyone who saw Karola in action will know just how much intellectual power was packed into her slight frame, and how she could fill a room. And now that force has gone. News of Karola’s passing reached Pittsburgh just a day after I had taken delivery of her book Genetics and Philosophy (coauthored with her husband Paul Griffiths; Cambridge University Press, 2013). Yes, I should have ordered it sooner, and it is bittersweet now to look at it. But I am glad it will continue to remind me of her passion for biology in all its astonishing complexity, from the molecular scale to the cultural, and of her impatience with simplistic stories about genes and traits, or about innateness and intelligence.

Stotz Karola
Karola Stotz

From her birthplace under the gray skies of Northern Germany, through her education in Mainz and Ghent, to research positions at the Konrad Lorenz Institute in Austria, at the Universities of Ghent, Sydney, and Pittsburgh and two and half years spent in the cognitive science program at Indiana University (where I first got to know her), she epitomized the life of an internationally itinerant interdisciplinary scholar. But she most loved Australia, its cockatoos, and its sunshine! It was the place where she and Paul chose to become naturalized citizens, and where for the past decade she had enjoyed success as an ARC Australian Research Fellow at the University of Sydney, and most recently as Senior Lecturer at Macquarie University.

Karola’s legacy is both in her work — a thoroughgoing philosophically naturalistic approach to questions of ontology and causal explanation in biology — and in the inspiration she provided to so many others in all the places she worked and visited. A cognitive scientist at Indiana University remarked that the most exciting intellectual conversations he ever had in Bloomington were with Karola. His view was far from unique. Karola cared about scientific details — she was ever eager to explain why everyone should care about the molecular complexities of post-transcriptional and post-translational gene regulation. She was especially interested in the multigenerational interplay of culture, cognition, and phenotypic plasticity through developmental niche construction, a topic on which she had been writing a book.

She cared deeply, too, about interdisciplinary communication. She wanted to help cognitive scientists become more grounded in developmental biology and less wedded to outmoded notions of innateness. She wanted to help biologists recognize the importance of epigenetic effects at every scale from cells to culture. A pioneer of empirical approaches to the history and philosophy of science, she wanted philosophical understanding and critiques of science to be as well grounded in systematically collected data as science is, and to this end she had investigated, with Paul, how biologists conceptualize genes, and just this year, with several collaborators, again including Paul, published an empirical study demonstrating how a folk-biological conception of innateness still dominates scientific thinking about human nature.

Just as in life, Karola’s death inspires clichés. She died too young. She is already missed. But she will live on through her work, especially in the memories of all who encountered her.

Colin Allen, University of Pittsburgh

ISHPSSB Oslo 2019: Local Arrangements Committee Report

The ISHPSSB 2019 meeting in Oslo was an amazingly rewarding experience for us as organizers and we hope that we managed to transfer our enthusiasm to all who participated.

The total number of participants was 555, with a very low percentage of last-minute cancellations from the 573 who had registered. Similar to previous meetings, 43% paid regular membership registration fees, 40% paid student and postdoc fees, 12% non-members fees, while 5% attended using the visitor passes.

The participants came from 40 countries, with the majority arriving from institutions in Europe (271) and English-speaking America (193). We had 30 participants from institutions in Latin America, 25 participants based in Australia and New Zealand, 15 in Asia, 14 in the Middle East, 1 in Africa, and 6 independent scholars.

Oslo University Aula
Keynote lecture in the University Aula

The conference dinner was attended by 231 participants.

Based on the latest, but not final, financial report the total expenses for the conference were US$ 120,000. The income from registration fees was US$ 94,000. The organizing institutions (Norsk Teknisk Museum and the University of Oslo) and the Research Council of Norway contributed with US$ 44,000 .

Special care was taken that participants with disabilities should be welcomed, and Oslo proved to be a good destination in that respect. Children were also welcomed as part of the audience and enjoyed the conference venues with their families.

Finally, a number of initiatives aimed at lowering the environmental impact of a big international conference and putting emphasis on discussions around climate and sustainability. The meeting was plastic-free, the amount of paper used was reduced and print-on-demand was the rule, all participants were provided with reusable, eco-friendly cups, all food served was vegan and food waste was minimal. Climate crisis and loss of biodiversity were the main themes of the keynote and public lecture, while the latter was also part of the Oslo European Green Capital program. These initiatives and themes were communicated actively on social media and were positively commented on by the majority of participants. There is a lot of room for improvement and we hope that ISHPSSB 2019 contributed somewhat to considering these important issues.

Ageliki Lefkaditou, Chair of the Local Arrangements Committee 2017–2019

2019 David L. Hull Prize

In 2011 the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology established the David L. Hull Prize to commemorate the life and legacy of David Hull, who exemplified both a high standard of interdisciplinary scholarship and exemplary service that helped to build bridges among our disciplines. This biennial prize honors extraordinary scholarship and service promoting connections among the communities represented by our Society.

For this purpose, the 2019 David L. Hull Prize Committee, comprised of Nick Hopwood, Roberta Millstein, Michel Morange, Thomas Pradeu, and Ana Barahona (Chair), launched a call for the prize in November 2018. The Committee emphasized that nominees may be at any career stage, and strongly suggested that members took into account diversity when considering nominations. The deadline for nominations was January 15, 2019. On behalf of the Society, we awarded this year’s prize to Dr Jonathan Hodge, senior honorary member of the Leeds Centre for History and Philosophy of Science.

Jon Hodge and Ana Barahona
Jon Hodge and Ana Barahona at the prizes awards ceremony

Jonathan Hodge has been known for supporting and encouraging the youngest members of our guild. Moreover, he has diligently fostered ties of peer-to-peer communication. His estimable capacity for self-criticism has led him to constantly search for new perspectives from which he can continue learning or that may provoke him to reconsider his points. His creative talent, insight, and his ability to elucidate relationships between scientific postulates and their context show his great intellectual capacity.

In the early 1960s he completed his undergraduate studies in Zoology at the University of Cambridge, UK. Later, he obtained a Master’s degree in History of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Finally, in 1970 he received his Ph.D. in History of Science from Harvard University under the tutelage of Ernst Mayr and Everett Mendelsohn. Between 1969 and 1974 he taught at the Universities of Texas, Toronto, California (Berkeley), and Pittsburgh. From 1974 to 2005 he was based in the Division of History and Philosophy of Science, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Leeds. Currently, he is a senior honorary member of the Leeds Centre for History and Philosophy of Science.

Turning to his contributions in the history, historiography, and philosophy of evolutionary biology, we can say that Jon Hodge’s work covers more than forty years, including multiple publications on Darwin and Darwinism, on key personages such as Buffon and Lamarck, and on early genetics and the Synthetic Theory of Evolution. He is well known for his analyses of the work of Ronald Fisher and Sewall Wright, as well as for philosophical pieces on modern evolutionary biology where he has reflected on topics such as race, order, purpose, and their connection with biological thought.

Without a doubt, Hodge’s extensive work includes extraordinary intellectual achievements and the fostering of interdisciplinary communication and connections. His scholarship is characterized by its emphasis on the link between history and philosophy, and the relationship of intellectual history to its social context. Hodge guides us through long-term historical processes, to discover the roots of modern scientific practice, not as an inevitable result of the passing of time but as a product of its cultural relations, mainly within Western thought, and in that sense invites us to deepen our understanding of the history of science, with a particular emphasis on the importance of ontology. The latter is a clear example of the profound relationship that Hodge perceives between the philosophy and the history of science.

In the specific case of Darwin and the history of Darwinism, Hodge sheds light on Darwin’s theorizing, especially in the notebooks of his London years and during the voyage of the Beagle. Hodge has taken special care in rejecting theories that relate the Industrial Revolution and Darwin’s thought too straightforwardly, spinning in a much finer way the socio-economic context of his family from the eighteenth century, in a way that stands out from the conventional reading of Darwin and his work. Let us simply consider here the extraordinary work that, together with Greg Radick, was the Cambridge Companion to Darwin, a masterful collection of essays on the historical, biological, and ideological aspects of the Darwinian revolution, which has undoubtedly allowed us to have new ways of understanding a subject so widely discussed.

Finally, we would like to close by reaffirming the similarities between David L. Hull and Jonathan Hodge, not only in their study subjects but also in their teaching skills and their kindness, generosity, and commitment. The work of both invites us every day to see the history of science as a field full of opportunities to make new theoretical and empirical contributions.

Ana Barahona, Chair of the 2019 David L. Hull Prize Committee

2019 Grene and Callebaut Prizes

2019 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.

Rick Morris
Rick Morris, 2019 Marjorie Grene Prize recipient

This year’s Marjorie Grene Prize was awarded to Rick Morris for his paper “Stranger in a strange land: An optimal-environments account of evolutionary mismatch”, which was presented at the 2017 ISHPSSB meeting in São Paulo. A revised version of the paper was published online in the journal Synthese in September 2018. Rick will be graduating from UC Davis in the early fall of this year and then plans to go back to school to study computer science and machine learning.

The notion of evolutionary mismatch is gaining increasing currency in evolutionary medicine and evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary mismatch results when organisms live in environments to which they are poorly adapted, for instance because of a rapid environmental change. This situation is seen as the leading cause in a number of negative health outcomes, including depression, anxiety, obesity, breast cancer, dental problems, and many more. However, as Morris argues, the exact nature of evolutionary mismatch is unclear. This in turn leads to a lack of clarity about exactly which problems the theory of evolutionary mismatch can actually explain (it might look like it can explain everything). Clarifying these issues is important for the evolutionary health literature while also raising fundamental questions in respect to key notions of evolutionary theory such as fitness, evolution in changing environments, and more. Morris’s contribution lies in conceptualizing mismatch as the relation between optimal environment (defined by the organism’s physiology) and actual environment, which gives the notion more empirical precision.

Reviewers were impressed with the clarity of the argument presented by Morris and the careful way he deals with various objections. One reviewer commented that it sounded “like something Marjorie would have liked”. And although this was not the leading criterion, the committee was pleased that the outcome of its deliberations resulted in a match rather than a mismatch.

2019 Werner Callebaut Prize

The Werner 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 by 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.

Sidney Carls-Diamante
Sidney Carls-Diamante, 2019 Werner Callebaut Prize recipient

This year’s Werner Callebaut Prize was awarded to Sidney Carls-Diamante for her paper “Make up your mind: Octopus cognition and hybrid explanations”, which was presented at the 2017 ISHPSSB meeting in São Paulo. A revised version of the paper was published online in the journal Synthese in January 2019. Dr. Carls-Diamante completed her PhD at the University of Auckland in New Zealand* in 2018, and is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Konrad Lorenz Institute in Klosterneuburg near Vienna.

Drawing on a detailed analysis of neuroscientific research on octopus movement and cognition, the paper examines its implications for philosophical issues of representation and cognition. Fetching behavior in the octopus, it turns out, cannot be completely accounted for by a representational model of cognition. Rather, what we see at work is a non-overlapping use of representational and non-representational explanatory frameworks. Building on this analysis, Carls-Diamante argues for the need of (or at least the openness to) pluralistic or hybrid explanations in cognitive science.

The committee agreed that the paper brought together animal research, cognitive science research, and philosophy of science in a rigorous and persuasive way. The scientifically detailed description of the fetching behavior in the octopus — a fascinating topic in its own right — was put to the service of an important argument for both philosophy of cognitive science and philosophy of science, thus convincingly satisfying the criteria for the Callebaut prize.

*Correction: By mistake, it was stated previously here that Sidney Carls-Diamante had completed her PhD at the Konrad Lorenz Institute.

Soraya de Chadarevian, Chair of the Marjorie Grene and Werner Callebaut Prize Committee 2017–2019

2019 Interdisciplinary Organized Session Prize‍

In 2018, Council approved the proposal to create an Interdisciplinary Organized Session Prize. The new prize is meant to enhance the disciplinary diversity of not only the overall conference program but also of individual sessions, bringing the best of the ISH experience. It will be awarded by the Program Committee to the organizer(s) and all participants of an organized session that combines researchers or methodologies from several of the ISHPSSB disciplines (history, philosophy, sociology/STS, and biology, among others).

The Prize was first announced at the Call for Papers for the Oslo 2019 meeting. Organizers of sessions were encouraged to develop interdisciplinary proposals which included history and/or sociology of biology, and were asked to self-nominate their proposal with a brief justification. According to the approved adjudicating procedure, the Program Committee at large, in consultation with the Membership Development committee chairs (Ingo Brigandt and Alan Love), chose the most promising interdisciplinary sessions to be featured on the conference program.

In this case, five individual and double organized sessions made it to the high ranks and were attended by at least two members of the two committees, who later selected the session to be awarded at the Awards Ceremony and ISHPSSB General Meeting. For this inaugural occasion, we want to thank Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part C, published by Elsevier, which offered a 500 USD monetary prize to the winners.

The winner of the first edition of the Interdisciplinary Organized Sessions Prize (Oslo 2019) was the double session organized by Jan Baedke (Ruhr University Bochum) and Tatjana Buklijas (University of Auckland, New Zealand), on “The concept of the environment in biology: Historical, philosophical, and sociological perspectives”. The participants of this session also included Laurent Loison, Melissa Graboyes, Heather Dron, and Birgit Nemec.

Congratulations to all of them for this excellent and truly interdisciplinary session!

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

Site Selection Committee report

At the start of our work we were in conversation with colleagues in the Portland area, who were well advanced with a bid for holding ISH 2021 in Portland. Unfortunately that bid fell through. Fortunately, another bid arrived not long afterwards, from Chris Young (Alverno College) and Nigel Rothfels (UW-Milwaukee), to hold the next ISH meeting in Milwaukee, on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, from 11–16 July 2021. Following some light revisions after feedback from the Committee, the Milwaukee proposal (see summary below) was approved unanimously by the Committee, then by Council, and finally by the General Members Assembly at the Oslo meeting.

On future meetings, four points seem worth making:

  1. By ISH tradition, the 2023 meeting should take place outside of North America. At the time of writing, the Committee had received one inquiry about hosting that meeting (in Australia), and none about hosting anything beyond 2023.
  2. The Site Selection Committee may wish to become more ‘activist’, in sounding out members in places where ISH might like to meet, e.g. because it would allow for strategic co-location with another conference — as when, in 2017, ISH’s meeting in São Paulo dovetailed nicely with the subsequent ICHST meeting in Rio.
  3. Although well-supported conference organizers report, hand on heart, that the workload required to host an ISH meeting is manageable, that workload is still considerable, and the Society should bear in mind the option of hiring in professional conference organizers, off-putting though that may be in some respects.
  4. Where there is a choice (and often there isn’t one), a less expensive location should be preferred to a more expensive one.

Finally, it’s a pleasure to thank my fellow Committee members Matt Haber, Betty Smocovitis, and Staffan Müller-Wille, who were wonderful to work with and full of sage advice.

Greg Radick, Chair of the Site Selection Committee 2017–2019

ISHPSSB 2021: Milwaukee

This proposal comes from a collaborative local arrangements team of long-time ISHPSSB members Chris Young (Alverno College) and Nigel Rothfels (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee). Chris and Nigel have been colleagues in Milwaukee since 1999 and have worked closely together on a variety of projects. Nigel has strong administrative connections across the UWM campus and a joint faculty appointment in the history department. Together, they offer ISHPSSB members the many amenities of an urban university campus in a large Midwestern U.S. city for a summer academic conference.

Milwaukee from the river

Attendees will find travel to Milwaukee convenient. The city is served by an international airport (MKE). Milwaukee also has regular bus connections to even more services at Chicago’s O’Hare airport (ORD). The university can provide housing on campus with both air-conditioned and fresh-air residence halls. Less than a mile from Lake Michigan, even on warm summer days, it is often cooler by the lake. Additional housing options include downtown hotels as well as residential suburbs with more hotel options and online booking rentals. For those who choose to dine on campus, a meal service is available, and walk-in meals will be available to all participants on demand.

The city is well served by the Milwaukee County Transit System buses, taxis, and online car services. The campus is situated within relatively easy walking distance of vibrant restaurant options, as well as riverside biergartens. The program events will be housed entirely on campus in the recently refurbished (with further renovations planned for 2020) UWM Union. Additional space for sessions is available in the adjacent academic buildings, which are fully up-to-date. Reception and banquet space is reserved in the UWM Union as well.

Chris and Nigel have reached out to numerous offices and expect additional support from departments to be pledged in the upcoming budget cycle. The projections contained in our budget assume a mix of registration levels, including full and student and postdoc rates, early and regular registrants, as well as a small number of non-member and single-day registrants. Comparing rates at recent ISHPSSB meetings, we offer lower rates based on the lower costs of campus facilities available during the summer. Our proposal includes double-occupancy as low as US$ 33 per night, and single-occupancy with air conditioning for US$ 50 per night. Anyone who is looking to arrive early to the conference will find the lineup of Summerfest, the world’s largest outdoor music festival, available by late January 2021.

Chris and Nigel look forward to welcoming you all to Milwaukee in 2021!

Chris Young and Nigel Rothfels, Co-Chairs of the Local Arrangements Committee

Nominations Committee report

The Nominations Committee solicited and received over 25 nominations for the various positions considered for election. From those, 13 people agreed to stand for election. We worked to balance gender, discipline, and region as we sought nominees.

Marsha Richmond organized the actual election, since Rachel Ankeny as Secretary, who would normally administer the election, was a nominee and so had a conflict of interest.

The newly elected ISHPSSB officers are:

  • Rachel Ankeny, President-Elect
  • Laura Perini, Treasurer
  • Sarah Roe, Secretary
  • Luis Campos and Roberta Millstein, Program Co-Chairs
  • Jenny Bangham, Council Member
  • Vivette Garcia Deister, Council Member
  • Joeri Witteveen, Council Member

Michael R. Dietrich, Chair of the Nominations Committee 2017–2019

Travel Support Committee report

ISHPSSB provided travel support to graduate students and post-docs to two off-year workshops in 2018: EASPLS 2018, and an MBL workshop, “Regeneration Across Complex Living Systems.”

For the ISHPSSB 2019 conference in Oslo, two kinds of grants were available. Both were open to students, recent PhDs, and independent scholars. The travel grants were split into two types due to the requirements of the 8-Societies NSF grant, which funds travel for U.S. citizens and anyone attending a U.S. institution. ISHPSSB processes both types of applications and sends reimbursements to award recipients; we are then reimbursed for the NSF awards. Altogether, we received over 100 travel award applications, and of those, 85 met our funding criteria and were offered funding. About half of the ISHPSSB 2019 travel award expenses will be covered by donations and the NSF funding, with the other half coming from ISHPSSB general funds.

Laura Perini, Chair of the Travel Support Committee

Student Advisory Committee report

The Student Advisory Committee is charged with advising the Council on all matters related to student participation in the Society. During the Oslo Meeting, we had our Student Representative elections and we also appointed candidates to compose the Student Advisory Committee. Since then, we had a few additions to the committee increasing its diversity. This is the complete list of the members in this committee:

  • student advisory committee 2019Lúcia C. Neco, La Trobe University, Australia (Student Representative and Chair)
  • Robert Kok, University of Utah, USA
  • Walter Veit, University of Bristol, UK
  • Luis Felipe Eguiarte, University of Minnesota, USA
  • Neima Evangelista, Federal University of Bahia, Brazil
  • Jorge Mendonca, La Trobe University, Australia
  • Alex Aylward, University of Leeds, UK
  • Marco Casali, University of Rome Sapienza, Italy
  • Gina Surita, Princeton University, USA
  • Joana Formosinho, Medical Museion, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Heather Browning, Australia National University, Australia

The duties listed for the committee include the effort to increase student membership and engagement with the Society, the promotion of student travel funding and encouragement of submissions for the Marjorie Grene Prize and Werner Callebaut Prize. The most important issue that was pointed out by the students during the meeting in Oslo was communication between the Society and its student members and between students (especially during the meetings). We will be working to improve this point in the next two years and we are open to any suggestions of platforms to make this possible. Also, we are thinking of ways to improve the interaction between students during the meetings with the promotion of informal gatherings and other activities.

In addition, we would like to develop further the mentoring sessions during the biennial meetings, increasing the number of sessions and the activities available. Finally, we are also participating in the Travel Grant Committee and we plan to push forward a reformulation of the travel grant formula to increase the number and diversity of students attending the meetings.

Lúcia Neco, Chair of the Student Advisory Committee

Education Committee Report

The ISHPSSB Education Committee has been established to foster knowledge sharing and make educational resources available. A section of the Society web page has been dedicated that offers adequate science and science studies education resource. We want to encourage you to use this web page for your work and please do suggest additional content that you deem important!

The ISHPSSB Education Committee currently includes the following members: Charbel El-Hani (Federal University of Bahia, Brazil, co-chair), Isabella Sarto-Jackson (Konrad Lorenz Institute, Austria, co-chair), Kostas Kampourakis (University of Geneva, Switzerland), Nelio Bizzo (University of São Paulo, Brazil), Cora Ariane Dröscher (University of Trento, Italy), John Beatty (University of British Columbia, Canada), Brian McLoone (National Research University, Moscow, Russia), Riana Betzler (University of Cambridge, UK), Maria Strecht Almeida (University of Porto, Portugal) and Sophie Veigl (University of Vienna, Austria).

We would like to announce in this newsletter the current committee, who will soon begin planning novel approaches to empower the educational activities carried out by ISHPSSB members. If you have any suggestion you would like to pass on to the committee, we encourage you to do so, sending a message to Charbel El-Hani (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and Isabella Sarto-Jackson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

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

Off-Year Workshop Committee Report

The Off-Year Workshop Committee issued a call for proposals, and was pleased to sponsor two workshops. ISHPSSB supports these workshops by providing publicity as well as some funding for graduate student travel.

The first workshop supported was the 5th European Advanced Seminar in the Philosophy of the Life Sciences. It took place at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research (KLI) in Klosterneuburg, Austria, devoted to Interdisciplinarity in the life sciences and their philosophy. The seminar was directed by Sabina Leonelli and Thomas Reydon. There were 54 participants, ranging from PhD students and post-docs to senior researchers. Organizer Isabella Sarto Jackson reports:

The format included short individual presentations by selected participants, talks by senior faculty and commentaries by junior researchers, as well as moderated round table discussions. There was ample time for discussions to which all participants vividly contributed. For the first time in this event series, the senior faculty also organized a professional development panel that was very well received by the participants.

The program was organized in order to address the issue of interdisciplinarity from a wide variety of perspectives. By means of examples several speakers explicitly articulated challenges and caveats concerning interdisciplinary work. At the same time, procedures and strategies as to how interdisciplinary endeavors can be integrated in projects and in research networks were discussed. Senior scholars shared their personal experiences from interdisciplinary working environments in different research fields including evolutionary biology, ecology, developmental biology, and the biomedical sciences. These reports proved very valuable for young philosophers, historians, and scientists to learn about rewards and risks when following an interdisciplinary research trajectory.

More details about the program can be found here on the KLI website.

The second workshop was on Regeneration Across Complex Living Systems: From Regenerating Microbiomes to Ecosystems Resiliency. The workshop took place over two days in October at the Marine Biological Lab (MBL) in Woods Hole, MA, USA, and was supported by funding from the James S. McDonnell Foundation and the Society. Workshop coordinators Kate MacCord (MBL) and Kathryn Maxson Jones (Princeton) report:

The Workshop convened scholars from three continents to discuss regeneration across complex living systems from an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing a total participation of about twenty-five individuals including scientists from the MBL. On [the first day] nine speakers delivered their papers in three panels, which were loosely clustered around the levels of cells and microbes, organisms, and ecosystems. The talks ranged from a report on cutting-edge imaging technologies for assessing nerve regeneration in octopodi, to an anthropological analysis of the tension between axolotl limb regeneration and the organism’s collapsing natural habitat, to assessments of microbiome and ecosystem regeneration through both intellectual histories and present-day applications. […] The Workshop concluded with a three-hour discussion of major themes. Together, the participants grappled with the talks of the previous day in terms of the systems, processes, and results of regeneration.

Stuart Glennan is stepping down as chair of the Committee, and we are grateful to Matt Haber for assuming leadership of the Committee.

Signing off…

Call for Proposals: ISHPSSB Off-Year Workshops 2020

Proposal Deadline: 31 January 2020

ISHPSSB off-year workshops began in 2006 as a way for members of the ISHPSSB community to meet in smaller settings built around a theme or topic. These were typically driven by graduate student organizers, and topics ranged from professional development to focused research topics.

The ISHPSSB Off-Year Workshop Committee invites proposals for off-year workshops taking place during 2020. We invite proposals for any workshop between April and December of 2020. 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.

Complete proposals will include the following information:

  1. Name, Affiliation, and Contact Information for Workshop Coordinator(s)
  2. Proposed Workshop Topic and Program
    Help us pitch your workshop to ISHPSSB members: 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
    Things to consider: 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
    Things to consider: 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:
    • Housing options
    • Registration costs, if any
    • Parking
    • Banquet, if any
    • 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 need help or advice on estimating expenses, please contact Matt Haber (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Proposals should meet the following requirements:

  • Workshops should be organized around a particular theme, and 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.

Proposals are due to Matt Haber (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 2020.

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.

Matt Haber, Chair of the Off-Year Workshop Committee

ISHPSSB Governance and Committee Chairs, 2019–2021

Executive Committee

President: Greg Radick
President-elect: Rachel Ankeny
Treasurer: Laura Perini
Secretary: Sarah Roe
Program co-chairs: Luis Campos & Roberta Millstein


Officers: Greg Radick (President), Rachel Ankeny (President-Elect), Secretary (Sarah Roe), Program Co-Chairs (Luis Campos & Roberta Millstein), Marsha Richmond (Immediate Past President)
Elected Members: Jenny Bangham (2019–23), Ingo Brigandt (2017–21), Vivette García Deister (2019–23), Emily Parke (2017–21), Jutta Schickore (2017–21) & Joeri Witteveen (2019–23)
Student Representative: Lúcia Neco

Committee Chairs

Local Arrangements Committee for the 2021 Milwaukee Meeting

Nigel Rothfels (Co-Chair)
Chris Young (Co-Chair)

Program Committee for the 2021 Milwaukee Meeting

Luis Campos (Co-Chair)
Roberta Millstein (Co-Chair)

Communications Committee

Sarah Roe

Education Committee

Charbel El-Hani (Co-Chair)
Isabella Sarto-Jackson (Co-Chair)

Site Selection Committee

Rachel A. Ankeny

Student Advisory Committee

Lúcia Neco

Operations Committee

Rachel A. Ankeny

Travel Support Committee

Laura Perini

Off‐Year Workshop Committee

Matt Haber

Membership Development Committee

Ingo Brigandt (Co-Chair)
Alan Love (Co-Chair)

Nominations Committee

Marsha Richmond

David L. Hull Prize Committee

Paul Griffiths

Marjorie Grene and Werner Callebaut Prize Committee

Sabina Leonelli


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 Greg Radick for his help, as well as to all the members who kindly contributed to this issue with their texts.

The picture of the Oslo University Aula was provided by Luis Campos.