President’s Update

Jim Griesemer, President

The ISHPSSB Biennial Newsletter has gone electronic. The “Fall” 2007 newsletter was published in March 2008 by posting to the ISH website in html and a new pdf format. This Fall 2008 newsletter (#37) was supposed to be the Spring 2008 newsletter (#36), but I waited to resolve issues about conference registration for Brisbane and membership renewals. Now that it is December 2008, I decided to post a “dummy” newsletter for Spring 2008 just to preserve the newsletter numbering system, but to put all the information here in the Fall 2008 newsletter. I hope, now that we’re putting more information on-line, that it will become easier to get information out to members on a timely basis. Notices of the Fall 2007 Newsletter’s publication online were posted to all members along with membership renewal reminders. In the notices, we invited members who wish to continue receiving a printed newsletter to write to Secretary Roberta Millstein (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to request one. Membership renewal is going online as well and there’s a box you can check to elect to receive a paper newsletter there. Although it may be a bit inconvenient to some not to receive paper prompts to renew membership, the new online membership renewal system will send automated renewal reminders, saving the Secretary a lot of work. The print newsletter costs one to two thousand dollars to print and mail, money we can use to support other Society activities. Let us know how you think the new arrangement is working (or not).

President’s Corner

I have set up a new item at the ISH website: the President’s Corner. You can find it linked from which will redirect you to my site: I set it up this way so that I can quickly and easily update it and reduce some of the burden on our volunteer webmaster, Frédéric Bouchard. This will be a place for me (and subsequent presidents) to post occasional thoughts and mention issues arising, throughout the period between conferences, to stimulate discussion on matters of policy and procedure as well as to provide more timely planning than a biannual newsletter can provide. As you probably already know, discussions are underway to consider a variety of improved electronic communication tools and electronic publishing venues for Members, Council, and the Executive Committee. The President’s Corner is intended to be a place to get that discussion going with pointers to things happening around the Society and in its web pages that may not be obvious or as accessible as they could be (e.g. discussion threads, items circulated through the listserve, and other matters arising). Eventually, I would like the Corner to become a wiki, providing opportunities for immediate member feedback and response from members. It is currently set up as a blog with RSS feed so you can be notified when something new is posted rather than having to navigate to the site to find out whether there’s anything new.

Online Membership Renewal is Now Live Hosting by Wild Apricot (

After a vote by the Council approving the action, Roberta Millstein (ISHPSSB Secretary 2007-2009) set up an on-line method for membership renewal using the Canadian web company Wild Apricot, which specializes in on-line event registration and membership services for non-profits and charities. The site is now live. Members can join ISHPSSB or renew their memberships at the web page: . I’ve tried it and it works well. The only oddity of the set up is that because we’ve uploaded our members database, in order to establish your registration with the site, you have to enter the email address that is on file with the Society and click on “Forgot my password” so the site will check the databased and send a message with a temporary password you can then change. Soon, conference registration for ISHPSSB 2009 - Brisbane will be available through the site. Besides providing modern database tools to manage our membership list, the site will allow us to send automated membership renewal reminders. We are excited to learn how members find the experience of using this site. Let us know what you think.

Policy Matters Arising

Several policy matters arising will be discussed by Council during the Brisbane meeting: (1) Student Travel Policy, (2) Off-Year Workshop Policy, and (3) Bylaws Revision.
On student travel and off-year workshops, we need to develop a policy about whether graduate student travel support should be confined to the biennial conference or also made available for off-year workshops. This matter arose because the expectation has grown up that off-year workshop proposals might receive not only the endorsement of ISHPSSB but also funding, e.g. for graduate student travel. However, there is no mandate in the Bylaws nor established policy on the matter. Past practice has not been clear to members, proposers or the Executive Committee. Moreover, the Bylaws (Article XII) say that the Society can provide student assistance "provided that such expenditures remain an insubstantial portion of the Corporation's budget." This is vague language in need of clarification. Off-year workshops began (the first one in 2004) with the understanding that ISHPSSB endorsement/approval did not carry with it any promise of funding. Now that we have endorsed three workshops for 2008 and reinforced the expectation of funding with this cycle’s call for proposals in which we stated: "Some funding for graduate student (ISHPSSB members only) travel to the workshops may be available," it is time to establish a policy. Members are invited to communicate their thoughts with the President or through the ISH discussion boards. We will set up a discussion thread on the web site on this topic.

More broadly, we clarify policy on off-year workshops, including general guidelines on their nature and scope. The expectation for the biennial conferences is that all aspects within the scope of ISH should be represented (Bylaws Article XIV), including historical, philosophical, and social science perspectives. Off-year workshop proposals have sometimes been more specialized, both in disciplinary scope of perspectives on science and in the scope of the sciences covered. As a Society, we should review our procedures and discuss policies on off-year workshops so that everyone is clear about what should or shouldn’t be proposed or approved. Members are invited to communicate their thoughts with the President or through the ISH discussion boards

Finally, the Bylaws, as noted above, are vague in places and possibly in conflict with our informal practices in some regards. It became apparent during the discussion of the Society’s possibly taking on responsibility for the journal History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences that our Bylaws are not as effective a tool as they could be in guiding our actions. It is time for a thorough review of the Bylaws and policies passed during our members meetings to see if they need reform. This needs to be done well in advance of a biennial meeting so that the issues can be put before the membership in time for thoughtful discussion and consideration so that a proper and informed vote can be held. In order to vote to amend the Bylaws, a quorum (10% of the membership) must be present at the members’ meeting. Although this doesn’t seem like much (10% of 478 paid members = 48), we have come perilously close to failing to produce a quorum at members’ meetings before.

Off Year Workshops 2008

ISHPSSB endorsed three off year workshops this year, one that took place in St Louis USA (August  6-10, 2008), one in Kobe Japan (November 5-7, 2008), and one that was to take place in Itu, São Paulo State, Brazil (December 7-9, 2008). The Brazil meeting has since been cancelled. The two that recently took place seem to have been exciting meetings, each very different, and expanding ISH’s scope as an international society. The next newsletter will include reports from the organizers of how their events turned out. With these two meetings in different regions of the globe, graduate students interested in historical, philosophical and social studies of biology from a variety of locations continue to discover increasing access to a meeting closer to home than the biennial conferences have been able to provide. I would like to encourage members to expand their disciplinary horizons and consider proposing off year workshops that explore social science perspectives and perhaps engage in a dialogue about relationships among social science, historical, and philosophical perspectives on science.

Future Directions in Genetic Studies Graduate Training Workshop
Washington University, St Louis, Missouri, 6–10 August 2008

Don Goodman-Wilson
Washington University in St Louis
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What is the link between genes and behavior? How does our genotype interact with our environment to produce behavior? What methods are available to investigate these questions? What are the societal and philosophical implications of discovering such links? Is asking these questions a fruitful enterprise to begin with? The Future Directions in Genetics Studies Graduate Training Workshop (FDIGS) will help dissertating graduate students grapple with these and other related questions. FDIGS is an off-year workshop of the International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB). The workshop is focused on the new frontier between genetics and genomics on one hand and neuroscience and psychology on the other. This frontier is developing new and exciting research paradigms in behavioral and psychiatric genetics, genetical neuroscience, social neuroscience, developmental psychobiology and behavioral epigenetics. FDIGS will provide a forum for graduate students to explore the philosophical, historical and social significance of this new research interface.

Biology Studies in East Asia
Kobe University
Kobe, Japan
5-7 November 2008

Akihisa Setoguchi 
Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Economics, Osaka City University 
Address: Sugimoto 3-3-138 Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka, 558-8585, Japan 
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
Phone : +81-6-6768-0312

The theme of the workshop, "Biology Studies in East Asia," captures the momentum of ongoing and future scholarship. In East Asia, historical and sociological studies of biology have been around for a long time. However, this is not well known among Western scholars. Recently, philosophers of biology have grown in numbers in Japan and new topics such as neuroethics have become important. We would like to show the current status of biology studies and discuss future directions of historical, sociological, and philosophical studies of biology. The purposes of this workshop are to (1) build a network of scholars of biology studies in East Asia and (2) foster interactions between them and the current ISHPSSB members. It will benefit both East Asian scholars and Western counterparts. Communication between participants from each East Asian country will be mutually encouraging and helpful for making biology studies more active in this region. At the same time, for participants from Western countries, this will provide a good opportunity to get to know what is going on with East Asian biology studies.  If this workshop is successful, it will eventually contribute to ISHPSSB by raising the Society's international profile, which can be potentially measured by the participation of East Asian scholars in future ISHPSSB meetings, including the upcoming bi-annual meeting in Brisbane, 2009. 

Biennial Meeting, 12-16 July 2009, Brisbane, Australia

CALL FOR PAPERS (this information is also available from a link at the ISHPSSB meeting page:
Marsha Richmond and Manfred Laubichler, Program Co-Chairs

The 2009 meeting of the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology will take place from Sunday, 12 July, through Thursday, 16 July, at Emmanuel College, St. Lucia, Brisbane, Australia, hosted by the University of Sydney. 
ISHPSSB brings together scholars from diverse disciplines, including the life sciences as well as history, philosophy, and sociology of science.  The ISHPSSB biennial summer conferences are known for their innovative, transdisciplinary sessions and for fostering informal, cooperative exchanges and on-going collaborations among a variety of international scholars.  This will be the first meeting to be held in the southern hemisphere.

The aim of the conference is to facilitate the exchange of research ideas and results across a range of fields.  The submission of papers and sessions on any topic within the society’s scope is welcomed. We also encourage the submission of posters, workshops, and general interest sessions based on themes identified in session proposals. It is our goal to develop a program that will allow maximal interactions, while also giving people the chance to present their ideas to their colleagues.

Meeting near the Great Barrier Reef in the year of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species and the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the publication of Jean Baptiste Lamarck’s Philosophie Zoologique, we suggest some possible ideas for proposals, including:  (1) Darwinism from different perspectives, including future perspectives on Darwinism; (2) The history, philosophy, social studies, and theory behind current debates about the genetics of evolutionary change; (3) The history, philosophy, social studies, and biology of coral reefs—a subject that engaged Darwin and which is now the subject of much attention related to the global environmental crisis; (4) The nature of amateur participation in science, especially “citizen science” that encourages stakeholders of various kinds to protect the coastal environment, and the role of NGOs in shaping science policy; and (5) Topics such as biodiversity, biogeography, and systematics.  Submissions on other subjects that reflect an individual’s current area of research, however, are also welcomed. 

Scholars wishing to attend the meeting are invited to submit session and paper proposals on the ISHPSSB website: Deadline for submissions is 1 February 2009.  Abstracts should not exceed 500 words; instructions for using the abstract submission system can be found at:

To facilitate collaboration in putting together sessions, a forum is available on the ISHPSSB website to post ideas and solicit participants for sessions and discussion panels:

Acceptance decisions will be communicated in early March.  Graduate students are especially encouraged, and there will be opportunities available for obtaining travel funding. The deadline for applications for graduate student travel assistance is April 1, 2009. The deadline for meeting registration is May 15, 2009. Information on registration and accommodation is provided on the conference website. Membership (live) and conference (not quite ready as of December 1, 2008) registration is through the ISHPSSB’s registration web site:

Please direct any inquiries to the Program Co-Chairs:

Manfred Laubichler:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Marsha Richmond:    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Submission Guidelines and Procedures

Marsha Richmond and Manfred Laubichler, Program Co-Chairs
How to use the online abstract submission system (this information is also available from a link at the ISHPSSB meeting page:

Important information

  • If you are submitting more than one abstract you can use the same login for each abstract.
  • You can alter your abstract(s) at any time up to the deadline.
  • Do not include author names in the title or body of your abstract — you will be able to enter names online during the submission process.
1. The submission process
  • Log in to the submission system when you have prepared your abstract - enter your email address and the password you chose when you registered with the system.
  • You will be taken to a screen from which the submission process starts. Please read the instructions on this screen carefully. If you want to submit a new abstract you should click the link that says "Click here to submit a new abstract".  If you are submitting an abstract to an organized session, click on the session title, if available.  If you are submitting an abstract for a poster session, please click on “Poster Sessions.”
  • Submitting an abstract is a multi-step process. Each step asks several questions. Some questions are marked "required" and you will not be able to complete your submission until these questions have been answered.  Note that you do not have to answer questions that are not required.
  • If you have to stop part way through the process, your submission will be held in temporary storage until you return later and complete all the questions. When you log in again you can click on your incomplete abstract and resume submission.
2.  Types of submissions and guidelines 
  • We distinguish the following types of proposals: 
    a. Individual paper proposals, 
    b. proposals for organized sessions, 
    c. proposals for discussion panels, roundtables, and workshops
    d. poster sessions
  • ISHPSSB encourages sessions that:
    a. combine more than one disciplinary perspective
    b. include participants from more than one institution and/or country
    c. promote the interaction of junior and senior scholars 
  • The Program Co-Chairs, in consultation with the program committee and consistent with site constraints, promise to organize a rich, diverse, and high quality program.  While it is the intention of the Society to be as inclusive as possible, the program officers have the discretion to reject papers or sessions that are inappropriate for the meeting or do not meet basic standards of communication. The Program Committee is available to assist program officers in judging borderline cases. 
  • No one may present in more than one session. An exception is made for those who organize another session, comment in another session, or give a short plenary address. Individuals may serve more than one function in a given session, e.g., as chair and presenter. 
  • Each regular session must have a minimum of three presenters.
  • Topics that extend over two sessions are acceptable, but cannot extend over more than two sessions. 
  • Participants must pre-register for the conference in order to be included in the program.
  • Individual paper proposals will be assigned to sessions by the program officers. 
3. Submitting a Proposal for an Organized Session
  • Abstracts are required for all session proposals and can be entered directly into the submission system.
  • Organizers have two options for submitting a session proposal:
    a. Organizers can collect abstracts and relevant information from all participants and then submit both session proposal and individual paper proposals.
    b. Organizers can submit the session proposal and then ask participants to submit their individual paper proposals. Session participants will be able to identify the name of their session in the list provided.
4.  Amending a submission

If you wish to alter your submission, you may do so at any time up to the deadline.

  • Log in to the abstract submission system
  • You will see a list of the abstracts that you have submitted. Click on the abstract that you wish to change.
  • Amending an abstract is the same as the original submission process except that the online form will automatically be filled in with the answers that you previously gave. You don't have to change an answer if you don't want to.
  • When you reach the final step and press "Finish," you will be sent an email confirming that your abstract  has been amended.
5.  Queries

If you have any questions about the submission process, or you wish to withdraw an abstract, please contact one of the Program Co-Chairs:

Marsha Richmond This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Manfred Laubichler This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Local Arrangements

Paul Griffiths and Rachel Ankeny

The 2009 conference web site is up and running at:
You will find all the links you need regarding the conference, submitting abstracts and session proposals, registration, and hotel accomodations at:
Registration procedures are described at the meeting website: as well. As described in this newsletter, conference registration will soon be available online at Please check the meeting site frequently as you plan your contributions to the meeting and your travel to Brisbane.

Student Travel to Brisbane

The City of Brisbane is providing $20,000 (Australian) in travel funds that can be used to support student member travel to the Brisbane meeting. The Society traditionally has supported student travel and we will continue to do so. Additionally, we plan to apply for US NSF funds to support student travel. Since NSF funds are restricted to US Flag Carriers (Airlines), please choose one of these if you have a choice and it isn’t more expensive. Procedures for graduate student members to apply for travel funds will be posted at the meeting web page: The deadline for graduate student applications to help support your travel to Brisbane is April 1, 2009.

We urge senior members in other countries to explore sources of national funds that might also help support student member travel to Brisbane. I urge members who are financially able to donate to the student travel fund, either at membership renewal time or directly with a donation care of our Treasurer, Lisa Gannett: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Department of Philosophy, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 3C3 Canada.

ISHPSSB 2011 Site Selection

Invitation to Organize the 2011 ISHPSSB meeting
Ana Barahona, President-Elect and Chair, Site Selection Committee

It is the time to start planning for the 2011 ISHPSSB meeting. The first step in planning the next meeting after Brisbane 2009 is to decide on a location. The Site Selection Committee invites all interested individuals who would be interested in having their institution host the meeting, to present a proposal to us within the next months (by February 15, 2009). Proposals should include a general description of the institutional site, availability of housing (dorms, hotels, etc) and meeting rooms (large lecture halls for the Welcome and General Members meetings plus enough smaller classrooms for individual sessions), availability of transportation (both internationally and locally), and other features (handicap access, local activities, scenery etc) that would make the location attractive. More information on preparing site proposals can be found at Please send suggestions directly to, Ana Barahona, President-Elect and Site Selection Committee Chair, via e-mail at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or to Departamento de Biología Evolutiva, Facultad de Ciencias, UNAM. México 04510, México.

Nominations for Officers and Council Members

ISH Nominations Are Underway
Gar Allen, Past-President and Chair, Nominations Committee

The Nominations Committee (Marion Blute, Richard Burian, Jean Gayon, Jason Robert and Betty Smocovitis, Gar Allen, Chair) is beginning the process of preparing a slate of candidates for election to officer and council positions in ISHPSSB. The specific positions that we will be seeking to fill are four Council positions, President-elect, and the Program Chair(s). Our schedule is as follows: We will have a preliminary slate of nominees to mail out to the general membership by early March. We put this slate together by sending suggestions, with a brief explanation of why the person would be a good candidate for the position, to the committee as a whole. Once we get a preliminary slate together, in early March we will send out the preliminary slate to the general membership, asking for any additional nominations. Two members are required at this stage for any nomination to become official. The members doing the nominating will also need to secure the nominee's permission. The Nominations Committee then assembles a final ballot to be mailed (electronically) to the entire membership no more than 100 days before the next meeting. The Bylaws also state that we provide members with a minimum of 30 days to respond. If members think that more than 30 days should be allowed for voting, please let the Committee know (Gar Allen can be reached at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

At this point no action is required by any member. But we do want to alert you to the nominations and election schedule. Be thinking of people who might serve the Society in one of the positions listed above, and feel free to send any suggestions to members of the Nominations Committee at any time.

Membership Renewal

Roberta Millstein, Secretary

ISHPSSB members typically renew their memberships when they register for the biennial meeting. Those who do not attend a meeting sometimes fail to renew. We will continue to maintain a liberal renewal policy, sending Newsletter announcements and renewal information to people who are as much as two years late paying dues. Currently more than 1/3 of members are late paying dues. We ask you to renew when your membership expires. Please renew promptly when your renewal notice arrives, which will now be via email from our online partner Wild Apricot. For most existing members, renewal dates will be February 1 (2009, 2010, or 2011), but for new members, it will be the day of th eyear that they first became members. Remember that the easiest way to process your renewal is using our convenient PayPal service online, now available through the Society’s Wild Apricot registration website: If you have questions about your membership, contact Secretary Roberta Millstein at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Special Offers from Publishers

Annals of Science
$99 or £60/year; subscribe online via the ‘news and offers’ link on the journal’s website or write directly to the publisher (contact Lisa or Roberta for address).

Biological Theory
subscribe online via journal’s website (contact Lisa or Roberta for code which you need to enter to receive the discounted price).

Biology and Philosophy
$62/year; together with Journal of the History of Biology: $99/year; order via PayPal on the society’s website.

History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Newly available: $50 or €40/year.

Journal of the History of Biology
$56/year; together with Biology and Philosophy: $99/year; order via PayPal on the society’s website.

Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
$40 or €37/year; order via Jane Croft at Elsevier (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or contact Lisa or Roberta for regular mailing address).

Note that all PayPal subscriptions to journals through the Society will soon migrate to the Wild Apricot registration service at


James Griesemer, President
University of California, Davis
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Ana Barahona, President Elect
University of Mexico
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Lisa Gannett, Treasurer
St. Mary’s University
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Roberta Millstein, Secretary
University of California, Davis
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Pamela Henson, Archivist
Institutional History Division
Smithsonian Institution Archives
Washington, DC 20560-0414
(202) 786-2735
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Frédéric Bouchard, Webmaster
University of Montreal
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For additional Council contact information, visit our website at or contact Roberta Millstein.

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