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History of Biology Seminars

2008 Seminar: Embryos in Historical Context

Wed, May 14, 2008 - Wed, May 21, 2008
Woods Hole, MA


In 1987, the first MBL History of Biology course focused on History of Embryology and Genetics. Embryology has always held a central place at the Marine Biological Laboratory, and the MBL has held a central place in the history of Embryology. As Embryology has become known as Developmental Biology, the MBL has continued to provide an important place for research and education asking about how development occurs. After 20 years, the History of Biology seminar again focuses on Embryology and Developmental Biology.

MBL t-shirt

One of the questions of the seminar will be what we know about the MBL’s Embryology course and research over more than a century. How can we capture this history? And how might this knowledge inform current and future decisions about embryo research and its social, political, economic, and other complex contexts? Working within the digital environment of the NSF-funded Embryo Project at ASU’s Center for Biology and Society, we will look at people who have done embryo research in the past century, places they worked, research practices and technologies, concepts developed, images and literature produced, and the multiple contexts in which they worked.

In the case of the MBL Embryology Course this means, for example. Generating a list of all course directors, with pictures, links to their publications, discussions of organisms selected and technology used, and all other aspects of the research can provide vibrant links among otherwise divergent sources and can bring together scholarship that normally resides in dispersed places that those in other fields never see.