April 20, 2012 - April 21, 2012


47th Annual Joint Atlantic Seminar for the History of Biology

Department of History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science

The 47th Joint Atlantic Seminar for the History of Biology will be held at the University of Pennsylvania, beginning with an opening reception and plenary the evening of Friday April 20th, followed by the presentation of papers, a faculty panel, and a dinner on Saturday April 21st.  The event is being co-sponsored by the History and Sociology of Science Department, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science (PACHS).

The Joint Atlantic Seminar, founded in 1965, has fostered a long tradition of collegiality amongst historians of biology in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada.  It offers the opportunity for graduate students and other Historians of Science to present their work to a well-informed audience in an intimate and supportive setting.  It has been a venue where many of today’s senior scholars in the field gave their first academic talk.

Events will primarily take place in Claudia Cohen Hall, located at 249 South 36th Street, between Spruce Street and Locust Walk, on the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia.


Philadelphia is accessible by car (I-95; I-76), Amtrak rail from New York and Washington, and from various points in New Jersey via NJ transit and SEPTA (through Trenton).  Philadelphia’s train station (30th Street) is located about a ten-minute walk from campus.  Taxis and public transit are also available from 30th Street.  Visitors may also want to fly into the Philadelphia International Airport.  Taxis are available from the airport, as is public transit via SEPTA regional rail, which should be taken directly to the University City stop.

Parking around the campus is available on the street (metered) and in nearby parking garages.

Any additional questions, please contact: Andy Hogan at


Friday, April 20

Opening Reception (3rd Floor Lounge)

Susan Lindee Associate Dean for the Social Sciences (Penn)
Babak Ashrafi Director (Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science)

Plenary Talk (Seminar Room)
Adriana Petryna Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor in Anthropology (Penn): “The Ends of the Sick Role in Transnational Medicine”

Reception with Dinner (3rd Floor Lounge)

Saturday, April 21

Coffee, Tea, Bagels, and Pastries (Room G-17)

Session I Epigenesis and Evolution (Room G-17)

Chair: Alex Csiszar (Harvard)
Sarah Eldridge (Princeton): “Dynamic Words: the Language of Epigenesis in 18th Century Biology and Culture”
Richard Nash (Johns Hopkins): “William Keith Brooks as a Late-Nineteenth Century Darwinian”
Myrna Perez (Harvard): “Stephen Jay Gould and McClean v. Arkansas: Scientific Expertise and the Nature of Science in American culture 1980-1985”

Coffee Break

Session II Studying the Senses (Room G-17)

Chair: Erika Milam (Maryland)
Marion Schmidt (Johns Hopkins): “Eugenic Prevention and Educational Perfection: Hereditary Deafness Research at the Clarke School for the Deaf in the 1930s and 40s”
Scott Phelps (Harvard): “Photographs of Agnosia: Neuropsychiatry and the ‘Pötzl Phenomenon,’ 1917-1924”
Adrianna Link (Johns Hopkins): “Documenting Human Nature: E. Richard Sorenson and the National Anthropological Film Center, 1965-1980”

Lunch (3rd Floor Lounge, Claudia Cohen Hall)

Session III Post-War Genetics and Society (Room G-17)

Chair: Luis Campos (Drew)
Maxwell Rogowski (Penn): “Modeling the ‘Near-White Negro’: Curt Stern and the Genetics of Race in the 1952 South”
Mary Mitchell (Penn): “Past Predicates; Tense Futures: Human Geneticists & Social Policy 1967-1973”
Robin Wolfe Scheffler (Yale): “From Polio to p53: The Life of Simian Virus 40”

Coffee Break

Session VI Aging Cells and Ancient DNA (Room G-17)

Chair: Dawn Digrius (Stevens)
Elizabeth Dobson (Florida State): “The Search for Ancient DNA, the Meaning of Fossils, and Paleontology in the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis”
Lijing Jiang (Arizona State): “Aging Catastrophe Comes with Protein: Cytoplasmic Inheritance and Epigenetics in Robin Holliday’s Cell Aging Research, 1963-1988”

Coffee Break

Faculty Panel (Room G-17)

Jane Maienschein (Arizona State)
Garland Allen (Washington)
Everett Mendelsohn (Harvard)

Dinner (3rd Floor Lounge, Claudia Cohen Hall)

Any additional questions, please contact: Andy Hogan at

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