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Alumni Spotlight: Kate MacCord

Date: 
September 18, 2017
Category: 
People

I got a degree in history and philosophy of science (HPS) because I wanted to understand how science and scientists work to give us an understanding of nature--both now and in the past. I got a PhD in history and philosophy of science from the Center for Biology and Society at ASU because it could give me an HPS degree while I was immersed in the life sciences.

As part of my dissertation research, I spent a year on a Fulbright scholarship embedded in the evolutionary phenomics laboratory of Jukka Jernvall in Helsinki, Finland, studying the development and evolution of teeth. That experience of working in the laboratory with the bench scientists transformed my understanding of scientific study of development and evolution, both now and in the past.

Going to Jernvall’s lab also confirmed in my mind the absolute necessity that HPSers collaborate with scientists in order to grasp how scientists go about understanding and explaining the natural world. It also made me realize that HPSers and scientists can and should work together to transform the discovery process for both fields.

I defended my dissertation, titled “Development, Evolution, and Teeth: How We Came to Explain the Morphological Evolution of the Mammalian Dentition,” in March of 2017. At the beginning of June, 2017, I started a new position at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, MA.

At the MBL, where I work as the Program Administrator and McDonnell Foundation Fellow, I am devoted to bringing HPSers and life scientists together to work on explaining problems in nature. At the MBL, I aim to foster the type of experience that transforms the discovery process, in the same way that working in Jernvall’s lab in Finland transformed my own research.

As for my research, I continue to marvel at the developmental processes that shape embryos, and seek to understand how researchers understand the way embryos take form, both now and in the past, as well as how development and evolution intersect.

More information: Kate MacCord (kmaccord@mbl.edu)

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