CBS Graduate Students Present at HSS

HSS Ribbon

Graduate students at the Center for Biology and Society made a tremendous impact at the joint History of Science Society (HSS)/Philosophy of Science Association (PSA) meeting in Chicago, November 6-9, where they organized sessions, gave papers, chaired sessions, ran parts of a major social outreach event, and coordinated and presented in a massive event on applying digital and computational methods to the history and philosophy of science.

Kate MacCord and Paige Madison started the HSS session off on the first day (Thursday, November 6) with a session that they co-organized on ‘Scientific Objects and the Objects of Science’. MacCord started off the session with a detailed look at “A Natural History of the Enamel Knot”, while Madison kept the session going strong in the third presenter’s slot with her “The Meandering Paths of the Feldhofer and Gibraltar Neanderthals”. Both presented papers to a full audience, from whom they received great feedback and questions. Erica O’Neil, acting as session chair, kept everything running smoothly and provided a strong introduction to the topic.

While MacCord, Madison, and O’Neil made strong showings at HSS, Wes Anderson acted as chair for a session in PSA, titled, “Contributed Papers: Phylogeny and Taxonomy”, successfully guiding the presenters and providing excellent commentary. Anderson oversaw talk on topics from Bayesian reasoning in phylogeny to the distinction between natural kinds and categories of taxonomy.

The first day of the conference ended strong when MacCord, Madison, and O’Neil were joined by Embryo Project Editor-in-Chief, Steve Elliott, to run two tables at the Joint Caucus for Socially Engaged Philosophers and Historians of Science (JCSEPHS) event. This event sought to bring resources and know-how on how to do many types of social outreach to professional historians and philosophers of science. While O’Neil and MacCord managed a table on “Science Museums and Exhibitions” using the Embryo Project outreach materials as a model, Elliott and Madison worked the crowd at their “Using Social Media like Facebook and Twitter to Get Out the Message” station. Audience members were given Embryo Project trading cards and stickers, and joined in taking selfies with fun props at Elliott and Madison’s station. The event was deemed a huge success, and the conference was alive with talk of the ASU grad students and the Embryo Project for the duration.

The second day of the conference saw Manfred Laubichler, President’s Professor, and Erick Peirson, graduate candidate, present during a workshop on Digital and Computational History of Science.  Erick first presented tools developed in conjunction with Juila Damerow and the Digital Innovations Group within the Laubichler lab.  Erick showed how these tools could create a more complete understanding of the Ecological Genetics Group; a polite group, primarily operating out of Great Britain in the mid-twentieth century.  Dr. Laubichler closed the first half of the workshop by presenting his work on detecting and analyzing scientific innovations computationally developed with Deryc Painter and Nayda Bliss, both from ASU.  Dr. Laubichler explained how major innovations would leave an imprint on collaborative networks within a field and detecting these influences can be done using algorithms developed for computer network security.  Furthermore, he explained how it is possible to trace pieces of innovation back through citation records to identify the origins of the various pieces that later become packaged together.