President's Corner

Every other spring is particularly exciting for the Society as plans take shape for our biennial meeting. In this Newsletter you will find the first announcement of the program for the 2001 meeting at Quinnipiac University, which contains a genuinely exciting group of about 150 papers, prepared by participants from 21 countries. The program this year is a bit more intimate than in recent years, which means that we will have fewer conflicts and excellent opportunities for concerted discussion. Furthermore, a number of sessions are being set up especially to foster discussion by pre-posting papers and restricting the paper presentations to brief summaries aimed at generating lively conversations. As one with vivid memories of the discussions in our early meetings, I appreciate Program Chair Douglas Allchin's efforts to encourage more intensive discussions in this year's meeting and look forward to the fruits of his labors. In brief, then, the biennial meeting, July 18-22, will be highly participatory and will cover topics ranging from agricultural experiment stations to visual images in zoology, from history of natural history to analysis of mechanisms in biology, from the nature of research groups to issues about regulatory laws. Great thanks are due to Douglas Allchin and to the members of the Program Committee (Jay Aronson, Kathy Cooke, Michael Dietrich, Elihu Gerson, Christiane Groeben, Pam Henson, Jane Maienschein, Sergio Martinez, and David Valone) for their vision and hard work in putting the program together. Kathy Cooke and David Valone, co-chairs of the local arrangements committee, have done yeoman service to ensure that Quinnipiac University has everything in place to meet our needs and to make our stay pleasurable. We are delighted with the venue and expect the meeting arrangements to turn out very well. We hope very much that you will be able to join us at Quinnipiac and that you will register early (note that early registration saves you money!). While you are at it please help David and Kathy by completing all three forms requested - registration, housing and meals, travel information. Doing so well help us to make this meeting into one of the most enjoyable and productive meetings of the society to date. I would also like to remind members that the Education Committee has organized a pre-conference workshop on Teaching History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology to take place at Quinnipiac on Wednesday, July 18. Further details are available from Peter Taylor, Program in Critical and Creative Thinking, Graduate College of Education, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA 02125, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you plan to stay on campus and to attend this workshop, note that you can move into the dormitories on Tuesday, 17 July. In this newsletter you will also find a slate of candidates for society offices and the ballot. Society by-laws require a mail ballot, so be sure to mail in your ballot by June 1. We have an excellent slate of candidates thanks to the fine work of the nominations committee, Lisa Lloyd (chair), Marilia Coutinho, and Gregg Mitman. Now the guidance of the society for the next two-to-four years depends on your vote. Turning to one of the happiest duties of a president, I take great pleasure in announcing the award of the Marjorie Grene Prize. This prize is intended to advance the careers of younger scholars, and will be awarded to the best manuscript based on a paper presented at one of the previous two ISHPSSB meetings by someone who is, or was at the time of the paper's presentation, a graduate student. The award consists of a certificate and up to $200 towards expenses incurred in attending the following meeting of the Society. In addition, if the manuscript is not already under review by a journal, the prize committee will promote the winning entry to one of the leading journals. This year's Prize Committee consisted of Philip Pauly, chair, Ron Amundson and David Rudge. And the winner is . . . Rasmus Winther (Indiana University), for his essay "August Weismann on Germ-Plasm Variation," presented at the 1999 meeting in Oaxaca. I encourage all graduate students presenting papers at Quinnipiac to consider submitting a manuscript based on their presentation for the next Grene Prize competition. To close, I want to thank the two stalwart officers whose service has kept the Society functioning. Without the continuing hard work and dedication of our Secretary, Chris Young, and our Treasurer, Keith Benson, we would be in enormous difficulty. Thanks to them, our operations are working very smoothly. Behind the scenes, their contribution to the continuing success of the Society is enormous and enormously important. In addition, many thanks go to Lindley Darden, our next president, for her very capable assistance in planning toward the 2003 meeting and reviewing society operations. The Society will be in very capable hands when she takes charge!

Richard Burian, Society President

Marjorie Grene Prize Winner

The Marjorie Grene prize committee (Ronald Amundson, Philip Pauly, and David Rudge) recommend that the award be given in 2001 to Rasmus Winther, Indiana University, for his essay, "August Weismann on Germ-Plasm Variation." The paper makes the surprising argument that "Weismann was not a Weismannist" - that throughout his career he believed that external influences caused heritable variations. Winther demonstrates this claim through careful analysis of Weismann's publications stretching from the 1870s to the 1900s, showing that while his views on the causes of variation changed quite significantly over time, he continually held to the position that environment was the source of changes in the germ plasm. The paper combines historical and philosophical sophistication, and should change historians' views regarding the meanings of "acquired characters" in the late nineteenth century.

From the Program Chair

Dick Burian has already introduced you to the program in his comments. Well, I have had the additional privilege of getting to read every abstract - and I am really excited about the contributions and the session ensembles. After perusing the program, I trust you will share my enthusiasm. Dick noted the "new" revived format of prepared discussion sessions. This is one way we are trying to foster discussion. I want to also note the roundtable discussions we have planned for Sunday morning. Many themes carry across several sessions and the informal sessions on the final morning will offer a further occasion for integrating thoughts. The spirit of the sessions will also be to sketch "Problems and Prospects" that might lead to further reflection or study - and perhaps collaboration among members present. While everyone looks forward to the presentations at any conference, much of the real "work" happens in the discussions that follow. We have done everything possible this year to enhance this dimension of our gathering. And the pleasant arboreal setting of the Quinnipiac campus is ideal, as well. The sessions and session abstracts (and list of participants) are now posted on the web. Please browse. Here is a rough schedule of what's to follow: ó ~April 16 - individual paper titles and abstracts to be posted on the website ó ~May 1 - our target for posting the preliminary session schedule ó June 1 - deadline for submitting papers to be posted on the web for prepared discussion ó June 15 - pre-registration deadline ó July 1 - final program schedule ó July 18 - opening evening reception... Looking forward to a convivial meeting, Douglas Allchin

ISHPSSB 2001 Local Arrangements Details

Special Excursion

For those who arrive early, we have a special excursion planned . . . a 90-minute hike in nearby Sleeping Giant State Park -- to help introduce you to our lovely surroundings. Shuttle Information For shuttle service to Quinnipiac University, we suggest you use take Connecticut Limo Service, which runs hourly from local airports, to its regularly scheduled stop in North Haven, Connecticut. The limo will take you to the Holiday Inn, and we will run a shuttle from the Holiday Inn to Quinnipiac University. The trip from the Holiday Inn to Quinnipiac is about a ten minute drive. Hartford/Springfield's Bradley International Airport ($25 one way or $46 round trip)-1 and 1/2 hour one way (driving a rental car would take approximately 50 minutes). New York JFK ($43 one way or $82 round trip)-2 and 3/4 hour one way. New York La Guardia ($43 one way or $82 round trip)-3 hours one way. Take the shuttle to North Haven Holiday Inn (201 Washington Avenue) where another shuttle will be available to take you to Quinnipiac University. While Hartford/Springfield is the most convenient, flying there may add a leg to your journey. If that is the case, one might prefer to take the shuttle from a New York airport. We suggest that you make reservations with CT Limo at 1-800-472-5466. We also suggest that you visit the website and print and carry with you the suggestions available on line for meeting the shuttle and North Haven. Hotel Information Holiday Inn I-91, Exit 12 (Rte. 5) 201 Washington Avenue North Haven, CT 06473 (203) 239-4225 1-800-HOLIDAY. (This is a standard shuttle stop from the airports. ~15 minutes from campus). Howard Johnson Motor Lodge. Rte. 15 (Wilbur Cross Parkway), Exit 60S/61N 2260 Whitney Avenue (Rte. 10) Hamden, CT 06518 (203) 288-3831 (~10 minutes from campus, on the bus route). Four Points (Sheraton). I-84, Exit 25A East (Austin Road) I-84, Exit 26 West (Cheshire) 3580 East Main Street Waterbury, CT 06705 (203) 573-1001 (~20 minutes >from campus). Courtyard (Marriott). I-91, Exit 15, Rte. 68 Wallingford, CT 06492 (203) 284-9400 1-800-321-2211 (~20 minutes from campus). Days Inn of Hamden. 3400 Whitney Avenue Hamden, CT 06518 (203) 288-2505; 1-800-325-2525 (5 minutes from campus, or a 10-minute walk, but part of the walk is along a rather busy and unattractive road with no sidewalk.). Omni New Haven Hotel. I-91, Exit 1 I-95, Exit 47 155 Temple Street New Haven, CT 06510 (203) 772-6664 (in New Haven, about 20 minutes from campus, along bus route). Motel 6. I-91 N, Exit 7 270 Foxon Blvd. New Haven, CT 06512 (203) 469-0343 (probably the cheapest option, ~20 minutes from campus).      

Pre-Conference Workshop

Teaching History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology Quinnipaic College, Wednesday July 18, 2001

A pre-conference workshop organized by the Education Committee of the International Society for History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology Through their teaching, writing, and public presentations, many ISHPSSBers promote the constructively critical analysis of science among students, practicing scientists, science studies scholars, and the wider public. The idea of a pre-conference workshop is for ISHPSSBers to share how we address this challenge. To get the ball rolling the Education Committee has arranged three presenters for the 2001 meetings. We hope this will incite others to offer to share their wares before and at future ISHPSSB meetings. A lunch meeting will be held during the conference to plan future pre-conference education workshops. This workshop consists of three experiential sessions. That is, instead of the session leaders telling us how they teach, participants experience the kinds of teaching the session leaders are exploring and reflect on the pedagogical issues raised. Participants are encouraged to attend the full day to compare and contrast the different approaches. Logistics: Indicate on the ISHPSSB Conference registration form that you will attend the workshop and need Wednesday lunch. Indicate also if you need Tuesday night dormitory accommodation and breakfast, available at the same (low) cost. There will be no cost for the workshop, but please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you will be attending so sufficient copies of the handouts can be made. Program with provisional descriptions of the workshop sessions (11 March 2001; updates will be posted when available) 9:30-11:00, Douglas Allchin, Minnesota (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., "Learning from Minamata" Minamata, Japan, suffered from severe mercury poisoning in the 1950s - perhaps the earliest and most emotionally engaging case of point-source pollution in history. Unfolding the episode in reverse chronology frames questions and lessons in science, society and uncertainty. 11:30-1:00, Steve Fifield, University of Delaware (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), "Whose Embryo Is It, Anyway?: A Problem-Based Learning Activity" In this session participants will experience a problem-based learning activity that foregrounds ethical and cultural dimensions of science in society that are often marginalized in science education. The case involves a mistake at an in vitro fertilization clinic that raises issues in reproductive biology and parenthood, biotechnology, genetics, race, and bioethics. In the problem-based approach, complex, real world problems or cases are used to motivate students to identify and research concepts and principles they need to know in order to progress through the problems. Students work in learning teams, bringing together collective skill at acquiring, communicating, and integrating information in a process of inquiry. This necessarily accelerated experience will give participants a taste of the problem-based learning cycle. 2:00-5:00, Peter Taylor, University of Massachusetts, Boston (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), "Inquiry-based approaches to science education can be enhanced by placing developments in science and technology in their social context" Participants in this session will be encouraged to take its title seriously. After a warm-up activity, you will experience a case or two from my own teaching in biology/environment and society, then critique the case(s), and work on lessons and activities in your own areas of interest to teach or present to the wider public. For further information, contact Peter Taylor, Program in Critical and Creative Thinking, Graduate College of Education, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA 02125. Phone: (617) 287 7636. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Nominees for ISHPSSB Council

President Elect (vote for one): Angela Creager is associate professor in the Department of History and Program in History of Science at Princeton University. She works on the development of biomedical research in the twentieth century, and is also interested in interactions between the physical and life sciences and in gender and science. She has previously served as co-chair of the Women's Caucus of the History of Science Society, and recently served on that society's Committee on Meetings and Programs. She has always enjoyed the interdisciplinary, informal nature of the ISHPSSB meetings.

Michael Dietrich: I am currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Dartmouth College. Although trained as a philosopher, my research is primarily concerned with the history of modern biology. I am currently completing a biography of Richard Goldschmidt and continuing my research on the history of molecular evolution. I was a founding member of the Executive Committee for ISHPSSB and was the Program Chair for the ISHPSSB meeting on Oaxaca. As President I would like to continue the ISHPSSB tradition of providing an open and welcoming environment for interdisciplinary discussion.

Paul Lawrence Farber is Oregon State University Distinguished Professor of the History of Science. He received his graduate education in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University. Currently, he is chair of the Department of History at OSU and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Zoology. Professor Farber's books and articles have focused primarily on the history of natural history and on evolution. He is also a co-author of a general biology textbook. He has served twice on the Council of the History of Science Society, was Executive Councillor of the West Coast history of Science Society, President of the Columbia History of Science Group, Co-Program Chairman for the 1993 annual meeting of the History of Science Society, and currently serves as Secretary of Section "L" (History and Philosophy of Science) of the AAAS. He is an associate editor of School Science and Mathematics, and Journal of the History of Biology.

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Directors (vote for three):

Rachel A. Ankeny is currently Director and Lecturer in the Unit for History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney, where she oversees all departmental administration and the undergraduate/honors programs. Her research interests include history of 20th century genetics and neurobiology; philosophy of biomedical sciences; and bioethics. She was elected as Secretary of the Australasian Association for History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science (AAHPSSS) in 2000, and also serves as Regional Treasurer for the Network for Feminist Approaches to Bioethics (FAB). She was chair of the Student Interest Group of the Society for Health and Human Values (SHHV) from 1993-95, and was the graduate advisor for the medical ethics program in HPS at the University of Pittsburgh in 1997-98.

Ana Barahona is a professor of history and philosophy of science at the National University of Mexico (UNAM), where she teaches history of biology and evolution for undergraduate students, history of genetics, and history of science in Mexico in the Graduate Program of Biological Sciences. Her main concern is on the problem of historiography and explanation in science, particularly biology. She is the author of the national textbooks on natural sciences for primary education. She has been head of the Graduate Program of Biological Studies (98-2000), and head of the Biology Department at the School of Sciences, UNAM (96-98).

Nathaniel Comfort: I began my serious intellectual life as a biologist. In 1991, I left neurobiology and animal behavior research to become the science writer at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. In 1994 I returned to graduate school, taking my Ph.D. in history from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Since the fall of 1997 I have been an assistant professor in the history department and the deputy director of the Center for History of Recent Science, both at The George Washington University, in Washington, DC. I am also the editor of Recent Science Newsletter, which I began two years ago as an organ of the Center. I am on the Operations Committee for ISHPSSB. I am on the editorial board of History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences and am the organizer of the 2001 Joint Atlantic Seminar on the History of Biology. I am the author of The Tangled Field: Barbara McClintock's Search for the Patterns of Genetic Control, forthcoming in June from Harvard University Press. I have written articles for the Journal of the History of Biology, Natural History, Trends in Biochemical Sciences, Genetics, Helix, and other magazines, as well as the usual barrage of encyclopedia entries and so forth. I have about 20 published book reviews.

Jean Gayon is Professor of Philosophy and History of Science at the University Paris 7-Denis Diderot (France). His areas of interest include history of biology, 19th-20th century (biometry, evolutionary biology, genetics), and philosophy of biology. His principal publication in English is Darwinism's Struggle for Survival (Cambridge UP, 1998). Administrative posts include: director of the "Doctoral School" of "Epistemology, History of Science and Didactics of Scientific disciplines;" member of the French National Committee of History and Philosophy of Science (Paris Academy of Sciences); member of the Evaluating Committee of CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); member of the "philosophy" section of the National Committee of Universities (France) Foreign and International Committees; member of the joint Committee of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science (nominated by the International Division of History of Science); member of the Scientific Committee of the Max Planck Institut of History of Science (Berlin); member of the Evaluating committee of the Program of Research Chairs (Canada); adjunct editor of Revue d'histoire des sciences; member of the scientific board of various journals (Biology and Philosophy, Ludus Vitalis [Mexico], and Philosophia Scientiae, Bulletin d'histoire et épistémologie des sciences de la vie).

Christiane Groeben began, in 1969, to assemble and catalogue source material related to the history of the Stazione Zoologica di Napoli and to shape the Historical Archives into a research facility. Since 1985, she has been responsible for the Book Review section of History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences. In 2001, she became head of the newly created "Unit for the History of Biology and Historical Archives" at the Stazione Zoologica. She is a member of several international societies for the history of science holding various offices. Her research focuses on the history of marine stations in general and of the Stazione Zoologica in particular. Through her various publications she has made relevant sources available to an interested readership, e.g. the correspondence between Anton Dohrn and Charles Darwin (Naples, 1982), Dohrn and Emil du Bois-Reymond (Heidelberg, 1985), Dohrn and Carl Ernst von Baer (Philadelphia, 1993). Her own research interests concentrate on the personality of Anton Dohrn, the foundation of the Naples Station and their impact on the development of biology. Recent studies deal with naturalists at the seaside in the early 19th century (1996); Carl Vogt (1998); broadsheets and sea-monsters (1998); "A Bioeconomic Perspective on the Organization of the Naples Marine Station" (2000, together with Michael Ghiselin); the impact of the Stazione Zoologica on Italian biology (2001); and early physiology at the Naples Station.

Roberta L. Millstein is an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at California State University, Hayward. Her areas of interest include the history and philosophy of evolutionary theory (with particular interests in issues of chance, causality, indeterminism, and explanation), biomedical ethics, and environmental ethics. She is currently serving on numerous university and departmental committees, as well as Hayward's faculty governing body, the Academic Senate.
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Hans-Jörg Rheinberger worked as molecular biologist until 1990 and is now Director at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. His recent books include Toward a History of Epistemic Things (Stanford, 1997), The Concept of the Gene in Development and Evolution (co-editor with Peter Beurton and Raphael Falk, Cambridge 2000). His areas of research are history and epistemology of experimentation and history of genetics. He served as President of the German Society for History and Philosophy of Biology, 1992-1996.

Denis Thieffry holds degrees in Molecular Biology, Philosophy, and History of Science. He is currently Professor at the Ecole d'Ingénieurs de Luminy, Université de Provence, Marseille France. His main research interests include the development of qualitative tools for the dynamical analysis of biological regulatory networks, in particular gene networks involved in development and cancer, as well as sequence analysis and definition of regulatory patterns in DNA sequences with emphasis on the functional effects of combinations of regulatory patterns. His research work on history and philosophy of molecular biology includes an emphasis on contributions dealing with the notion of gene regulation and its bearing to developmental biology. He is a founding member of the European Society for Mathematical and Theoretical Biology, and has been a member of ISHPSSB since 1994. He organized sessions at the 1995 and 1999 ISSHPB meetings. He has significant teaching experience in Bioinformatics, Theoretical Biology, and History of Biology.         

Publications of Interest

Wim J. van der Steen, Evolution as Natural History: A Philosophical Analysis (Praeger, 2000). Evolution has always played an important role in the philosophy of biology, and during the last few decades the theme of evolution has spread over many other disciplines. Considering evolution in biology itself, and in evolutionary biology, I argue that sweeping theoretical claims are out of the question. Analysis of concepts (for example, fitness, selection, and altruism) indicates that evolutionary biology should be content with theorizing at low levels of generality. Evolutionary theorizing in other disciplines (for example, ethics, epistemology, psychology, and medicine) is at times fruitful, but most theoretical efforts of researchers to assimilate evolutionary biology are problematic since they are out of touch with genuine biology.

Wim J. van der Steen and Vincent K. Y. Ho, Methods and Morals in the Life Sciences: A Guide for Analyzing and Writing Texts (Praeger, 2001). We introduce methodological criteria and general guidelines for the analysis of texts, and thereby for good writing. These are followed by case studies from many areas of biology and biomedicine (for example mental illness, egoism and altruism, genetic engineering), in which criteria and guidelines are the analytical tools. A system of cross references enables the teacher or student to select from the book samples of interconnected case studies that fit preferred levels (elementary, advanced) and themes. Hence, the text is books within a book as it were. The set up also aims at the integration of science and ethics, through particular choices of criteria, guidelines and themes. Lastly, the book contains a modest style manual.

Call for Journal Submissions

Call for Papers: Perspectives in Biology and Medicine Perspectives in Biology and Medicine invites essays on any aspect of the history, philosophy, or social studies of biology or medicine. Perspectives is an interdisciplinary journal published by the Johns Hopkins University Press. Our readers include biologists, physicians, students, and scholars in other disciplines who are interested in biology and medicine. The journal publishes essays that place biological or medical subjects in broader historical, ethical, or cultural contexts. The journal is widely indexed and is available through Project Muse of the Johns Hopkins University Press. More information is available on our web site, <>. While we have no word limit, most of our essays are in the range of 4,000 to 9,000 words. Manuscripts should be prepared according to Chicago Manual of Style. Because of their conviction that scientific writing should not be stilted, ponderous, or dull, the editors encourage an informal, humanistic style that preserves the warmth, excitement, and color of the life and medical sciences. We seek essays with sound and responsible scholarship that will hold our readers' attention and interest. All essays are subject to peer review before publication. Please direct inquiries to Robert Perlman, Editorial Office, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Culver Hall 404, 1025 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637; Fax: 773-702-9234; Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Special Offers for ISHPSSB Members


We offer ISHPSSB members a discount on Metascience and have in fact included it on our flyer for the journal and on the journal's website: The full personal rate is US$54 Americas; £35 Europe and the rest of the world. The ISHPSSB member rate is US$45 Americas; £29 Europe and the rest of the world. The journal's Institutional rate is US$164 Americas; £106 Europe and the rest of the world, except A$138 Australia/NZ. To get the member rate, either email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. indicating that you are an ISHPSSB member, or tick the box on the Metascience website order form. For more information on Metascience, including access to online articles, go to http://www.blackwellp

Journal of the History of Biology

Subscribe to the Journal of the History of Biology by contacting Society Treasurer and membership/subscription guru Keith Benson. Members receive a substantially discounted rate! (US$50, or US$90 for both JHB and B&P, see below.) Check out the journal online at me.htm/0022-5010

Biology and Philosophy

Subscribe to Biology and Philosophy by contacting Society Treasurer and membership/subscription guru Keith Benson. Members receive a substantially discounted rate! (US$50, or US$90 for both JHB and B&P, see above.) Check out the journal online at


ISHPSSB Listserv

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Last updated: 24 April 2001.