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Summary: History and Philosophy of Biology, especially evolutionary biology, genetics and animal behaviour; History of the Human Sciences; Philosophy of Science; Philosophy of History; Intellectual Property
See Greg's personal page for publications and further links.
Greg is a historian and philosopher of science whose work deals mainly with biology and the human sciences. Currently President-Elect of the International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology, he has held a number of roles in the field, including President of the British Society for the History of Science (2014-6) and Editor-in-Chief of Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (2012-7).
He received his BA in History from Rutgers (1992) and his MPhil and PhD in History and Philosophy of Science from Cambridge (1996, 2000). In his final year at Cambridge he was the Charles and Katharine Darwin Research Fellow at Darwin College and received the Singer Prize from the British Society for the History of Science for best essay by an early career researcher. He has been at the University of Leeds since 2000, based throughout at the Centre for History and Philosophy of Science. From 2006-8 he served as the Centre's Director, overseeing the creation of a new University Museum of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine. In 2010 he was promoted to a personal chair. In 2012 he gave an inaugural lecture which can be viewed here. From 2014-7 he served as Director of the Leeds Humanities Research Institute.
His publications have centred on Darwinism, genetics and the sciences of mind and behaviour. His book The Simian Tongue: The Long Debate about Animal Language (2007) was awarded the 2010 Suzanne J. Levinson Prize from the History of Science Society for best book in the history of the life sciences and natural history. His other books include, as co-author, Darwin in Ilkley (with Mike Dixon, 2009) and, as co-editor, The Cambridge Companion to Darwin (with Jonathan Hodge, 2nd edition 2009). Currently he is at work on several writing projects, including a book about the debate over Mendelism in the early twentieth century, Disputed Inheritance: The Battle over Mendel and the Future of Biology, under contract from the University of Chicago Press. Other interests include the theory and practice of counterfactual history and the interdisciplinary study of intellectual property.
He is active in promoting the history of science to wider audiences, appearing on Genius by Stephen Hawking on PBS/National Geographic Channel and In Our Time on BBC Radio 4, contributing to the Times Literary Supplement, and regularly giving public lectures. In 2015 he gave the annual Darwin Memorial Lecture in Shrewsbury and the first annual John Innes Lecture in the history of science at the John Innes Centre, Norwich. In 2016 he gave the annual Thomas S. Hall Lecture in history and philosophy of science at Washington University in St. Louis. In 2017 he gave an address at Mendel University in Brno to mark the unveiling of a new statue of Gregor Mendel. He has been participating with Leeds HPS colleagues and students throughout 2016-7 on a major public lecture series, HPS in 20 Objects, based on the Leeds HSTM Museum collections.
He was primary investigator on the Leeds Genetics Pedagogies Project (2012-4), which developed experimental teaching materials in order to assess the role that traditional Mendelian emphases play in promoting a determinist attitude towards genes (and, counterfactually, whether students might be less determinist now if Mendelism had never become biological orthodoxy). He is currently primary investigator on two research projects, the Horizon 2020-funded Making Biological Minds project and the AHRC-funded Global Challenges International Development and Intellectual Property project. He is also the lead supervisor for three AHRC-funded collaborative doctoral projects, with the National Institute of Agricultural Botany and with the British Library. From October 2017 to January 2020 he will be on full-time research leave thanks to the award of a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship.
He would be glad to hear from anyone interested in doing postdoctoral, PhD or MRes/MA work on any aspect of the research interests outlined above.
Selected Recent Publications:
- "The Enemy Within." Review of Siddhartha Mukherjee's The Gene: An Intimate History. Times Literary Supplement 25 November 2016: 3-4.
- "Presidential Address: Experimenting with the Scientific Past." British Journal for the History of Science 49 (2016): 153-173. An abbreviated version, "Teach Students the Biology of Their Time: An Experiment in Genetics Education Reveals How Mendel's Legacy Holds Back the Teaching of Science," was published in Nature 533 (19 May 2016): 293. The full experimental report on the education experiment has now appeared: "Genetic Determinism in the Genetics Curriculum: An Exploratory Study of the Effects of Mendelian and Weldonian Emphases," with Annie Jamieson. Science and Education, published online July 2017.
- "The Unmaking of a Modern Synthesis: Noam Chomsky, Charles Hockett, and the Politics of Behaviorism, 1955-1965." Isis 107 (March 2016): 49-73.
- "Beyond the 'Mendel-Fisher Controversy': Worries about Fraudulent Data Should Give Way to Broader Critiques of Mendel's Legacy." Science 350 (9 October 2015): 159-160.
For a full list of publications, including many downloadable versions, see Greg's personal page