PhD funding available for a Leeds HPS/British Library project on John Maynard Smith's life and career

Brotherton library

Applications are now invited for this fully funded AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Studentship.

The Working Life of Evolutionary Biologists: Exploring the Culture of Scientific Research through the Personal Archive of John Maynard Smith (1920-2004)

The University of Leeds Centre for History and Philosophy of Science, in collaboration with the British Library, invites applications for a fully funded three-year PhD studentship exploring the research culture of mid-twentieth-century evolutionary biology through the personal archive of John Maynard Smith.

The studentship award has been made under the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership scheme. The project, due to begin in October 2016, will be supervised by Professor Gregory Radick (Leeds) and Mr Jonathan Pledge (British Library).

This project will research the working life of John Maynard Smith (JMS), whose extensive personal archive, held by the British Library, offers rich resources for a reinterpretation of post-war British scientific culture. Based at UCL and then Sussex, JMS was one of the most eminent and publicly visible British evolutionary biologists of the post-war generation, famed especially for his pioneer applications of mathematical techniques, in particular game theory, to the study of animal behaviour; his contributions to signalling theory, sociobiology and the understanding of macro-evolutionary transitions; his early Communist sympathies; and his lucid lectures, broadcasts and prolific writings. An archivally based, contextually embedded reconstruction of his working life thus promises to illuminate topics of general relevance to the cultural history of modern science, including the history of science communication and scientists' political engagements.

The involvement of the British Library will provide students with a unique doctoral research and training experience. Collaborative doctoral students benefit from a range of training workshops, networking events and shared working facilities to enable them to develop together as a cohort. The British Library works with collaborative research partners in universities, museums, libraries and archives across the UK to maintain a track record of excellence in postgraduate training and research on a national scale.

As well as the expertise and access identified above, the student will also benefit from the collaboration over and above a standard PhD programme by extending their 'skills set' to improve their employability in research libraries, museums and galleries, as well as the wider creative industries sector.  Once appointed, the successful candidate will contribute to the refinement and development of the agreed research topic.

The main contact and supervisor for this project is Professor Gregory Radick. If you are interested in applying for the studentship, please email:

A full project description is available here.

The application deadline is 18th April 2016.

For further information about studying for a PhD at Leeds HPS, please see