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Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Archived news for 2009


16 December 2009
David Kirby, 'Science on Screen': public course at the Cornerhouse

Our science communication specialist, David Kirby, will be running an eight-week lecture course at the Cornerhouse cinema from mid-January. Titled Science on Screen, the course looks at scientists' consultancy roles in film production, and the impact of cinema on modern attitudes towards science. The course is suitable for beginners, and open for public registration.


16 December 2009
CHSTM Postgraduate Open Day, 10 February 2010

Our next Open Day for prospective postgraduate students will be held on the afternoon of Wednesday 10 February. Come along to find out more about our MSc (taught Masters) and PhD opportunities.


25 November 2009
New role for Clare Pilsworth

Clare Pilsworth completed her Wellcome research grant on early medieval medicine in Northern Italy, sponsored by CHSTM, at the end of March 2009. Her book, entitled More to life than leeches? Medicine and healthcare in early medieval Northern Italy, circa 500-900 A.D. will be published by Brepols in 2010/2011.

In September 2009, Clare started her new Wellcome project, 'I sign, therefore I am: the social status of doctors in Italy circa 900-1100 A.D.', hosted by the Department of Classics and Ancient History in the University's School of Arts, Histories and Cultures. She will be collaborating with Professors Paul Fouracre and David Langslow at Manchester, and Professor Peregrine Horden at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Clare's connection with CHSTM will continue, however, as she will still be supervising medical students on history of medicine topics.


19 November 2009
Call for papers: Whither the history of nineteenth-century medicine?

Announcing a one-day meeting in April 2010, organised by the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine at CHSTM.


18 November 2009
Timmermann on Telly

... but only for a few seconds. Carsten Timmermann was interviewed for a BBC Wales documentary on thalidomide survivors, 'We're Still Here', shown in the investigative report series 'Week In Week Out'. The programme is available online through the BBC iplayer until 24 November.


18 November 2009
Visiting scholars from Oslo and Utrecht

CHSTM is currently hosting two visting junior scholars whose stay in Manchester is funded by the European Science Foundation's networking programme Standard Drugs and Drug Standards. Tone Druglitrø from the University of Oslo is working on her PhD dissertation on standardized laboratory animals in Norway. Arjo Roersch van der Hoogte from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands is writing a paper on pharmaceutical advertising and preparing a project on cocaine in the early twentieth century and the trade of pharmaceutical substances, knowledge, technologies and practices between Latin America and Europe. Arjo will be in Manchester until the end of November, Tone until early December. Both have their desks in the CHSTM PhD office.


16 October 2009
CHSTM at the Manchester Science Festival 2009

This year's Manchester Science Festival takes place between Saturday 24 October and Sunday 1 November. CHSTM staff and students have been planning a number of events to add a historical dimension to the programme:

On Tuesday 20th, James Moore will present a public talk based on his new book with Adrian Desmond, Darwin's Sacred Cause: Race, Slavery and Human Origins. Sponsored by CHSTM as part of our seminar series, the talk will be held in Roscoe Building Theatre B on Brunswick Street at 5.30pm, with refreshments to follow.

In another CHSTM-sponsored event, Patricia Fara will speak on the experience of writing her new book, Science: A Four Thousand Year History. Patricia will be discussing three of the big questions: When did science begin? Who did science? How does science change? The talk takes place on Saturday 24th at the John Rylands Library, Deansgate.

On Monday 26th, CHSTM's Michael Worboys will be chairing an evening debate at the Museum of Science and Industry on the threat pandemics pose to society, how we are dealing with them and the measures in place for the future. The event is free, but you'll need to book in advance.

Fancy a novel way of spending your lunch hour? Why not head along to the Museum of Science and Industry on Wednesday 28th at 12pm, when Kat Foxhall will discuss how nineteenth-century surgeons experimented with different remedies when scurvy broke out amongst prisoners. On Thursday 29th and Saturday 31st, Neil Pemberton will be taking the lunchtime slot with a talk on leading nineteenth-century pathologist Bernard Spilsbury, exploring how Spilsbury unravelled the mysteries of homicide. Sign up on the day at the Museum's information desk.

With Hallowe'en just around the corner, join us at the Cornerhouse on Tuesday 27th for a screening of new vampire film Thirst, followed by a post screening discussion on 'Thirst, Blood, Vampires and Science', featuring CHSTM's David Kirby. The discussion is included in the price of the ticket, available online from the Cornerhouse.

On Saturday 24 at 11am and Tuesday 27 at 2pm, CHSTM postgraduate Emily Hankin will be leading a walking tour of the University, revealing where Rutherford and Geiger probed the secrets of the atom, Marie Stopes began her trailblazing career, computers learnt to sing, and Manchester uncovered ancient Egypt. Those interested should meet Emily under the arch of the Whitworth Building on Oxford Street. No need to pre book, just turn up and pay on the day. We?d recommend bringing an umbrella or raincoat!

In the congenial setting of the Lass O'Gowrie, James Sumner will lead a light-headed stagger through scientific understandings of alcohol since 1600, as Isaac Newton, Humphry Davy and others ponder the great questions: Is wine alcoholic? Does rotting fish belong in beer? And what?s more harmful ? microbes, or thunder? Join James for a pint on Friday 30th at 6pm to find out more.

Finally, why not drop in to the Biomedical Exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry between Wednesday 28 October and Sunday 1 November, where a CHSTM stall will be showcasing different aspects of biomedical history offering hands-on activities for all ages. On Wednesday 28th and Friday 30th, Julie Anderson will be displaying a selection of artificial limbs from different eras and giving participants the chance to design their own artificial limb. Visitors to the exhibition on Thursday 29th and Sunday 1st can explore innovations introduced in the 1920s and 1930s to transform factories into healthy and pleasant working environments: Vicky Long will be on hand to administer vocational aptitude tests from the era. On Saturday 31st Michael Brown will step into the role of the nineteenth-century surgeon, displaying surgical instruments and discussing how anaesthesia and antisepsis made surgery safer.


9 October 2009
New Research Associate post: Climate and Urban Design

CHSTM and the University of Manchester's School of Environment and Development announce a Research Associate post to support the ESRC-funded project Climate Science in Urban Design: a Historical and Comparative Study of Applied Urban Climatology. The researcher will work under the direction of Professor Michael Hebbert at SED and Dr Vladimir Jankovic at CHSTM, who are happy to receive informal queries.

The project spans the disciplines of urban climatology and urban design, and involves historical research as well as contemporary case studies in New York, Manchester, Stuttgart and Yokohama. The post will be available from 1 January 2010 for twenty months in the first
instance, and is suited to an early-career researcher with experience in one or more aspects of this interdisciplinary project.


29 September 2009
Contemporary history of the NHS series, October 2009 - June 2010

Details of forthcoming speakers for our discussion series on the contemporary history of the National Health Service are now available.


24 September 2009
Three public lectures in October: Thomas Dixon, James Moore, Patricia Fara

With the Manchester Science Festival once again approaching, CHSTM is sponsoring or co-hosting three public talks featuring high-profile speakers in the history of science.

On Monday 12 October, Thomas Dixon will give a British Society for the History of Science public lecture on "Darwinism vs creationism: a very American conflict". Thomas's book Science and Religion: a Very Short Introduction (2008) received the 2009 BSHS Dingle Prize for the best book accessible to a non-expert audience. The talk takes place at the Manchester Museum, Oxford Road, 5.30 till 7pm.

On Tuesday 20 October, James Moore will present a talk based on his new book with Adrian Desmond, Darwin's sacred cause: race, slavery and human origins. For full details, see the CHSTM seminar series pages.

On Saturday 24 October, Patricia Fara will speak on the experience of writing her new book, Science: A Four Thousand Year History. How do you fit 4000 years of science into 400 pages? Patricia will be discussing three of the big questions: When did science begin? Who did science? How does science change? Some of her answers may be unexpected. The talk takes place at the John Rylands Library, Deansgate, 1 till 2.30pm.

All events are free. No need to book: just turn up!


23 September 2009
Major ERC grant for pioneering project on the recent history of the earth sciences

The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded a starting grant for a project entitled "The Earth Under Surveillance (TEUS): Climate Change, Geophysics and the Cold War Legacy". This is one of the largest-ever grants awarded in Europe for research in the history of science and technology, and the first assigned within the ERC programme to a project in this disciplinary area.

The five-year TEUS project will be held at CHSTM in collaboration with the Institut de Recherche en Sciences et Technologie (IRIST, Université de Strasbourg) and the Centre d'Història de la Ciència (CEHIC, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona). The project will support the establishment of an international research team including Simone Turchetti (as principal Investigator), Soraya Boudia, Néstor Herran, Jérôme Lamy, Sébastien Soubiran and Leucha Veneer. Some PhD scholarships will also be advertised in the running of the project.

The research will trace the ancestry of scientific studies on the earth and the environment, especially by examining how the Cold War shaped research and funding trajectories. If the recent rush towards earth science studies has been propelled by the environmentalist discourse, a big leap forward in geophysics took place because of strategic imperatives deriving from the confrontation between superpowers. Our historical study aims to map the rise of geophysics in Europe in the light of these contextual factors.

For more information, please contact the project leader, Simone Turchetti.


23 September 2009
International Congress of the History of Science: Manchester 2013

At the end of July, CHSTM's Jeff Hughes travelled to Budapest to attend the International Congress of the History of Science as the official UK delegate. Currently President of the British Society for the History of Science, Jeff presented BSHS's bid to host the next International Congress in the UK in four years' time. Beating off competition from Buenos Aires, the BSHS bid was successful.

The Twenty-Fourth Congress, to be held in Manchester in 2013, marks the Congress's third visit to the UK after London (1931) and Edinburgh (1978). CHSTM will form the core of the local organisation, and planning will start almost immediately for this Olympic Games of HSTM.


3 September 2009
PhD news: comings and goings

Several of our 2009 PhD graduates have new roles. Tom Lean, who worked for the Manchester Histories Festival after completing his PhD, has recently been appointed as Oral History Interviewer at the British Library.  He is working on a major new initiative to create an archive for the study and public understanding of contemporary science and technology in Britain through 200 in-depth interviews with British scientists. Holly Ennis is a research assistant in the Arthritis Research Campaign Epidemiology Unit in the Faculty of Medicine and Human Sciences (FMHS), working on studies of a number of studies concerning childhood scleroderma. Val Harrington is also working as a research assistant in FMHS in the Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU), which is part of the Psychiatry Research Group in the Research School of Community-Based Medicine.

Meanwhile, six new doctoral students start this year.  Four students are moving directly from the Centre’s Masters, all with funding from the ESRC. Nick Duvall is studying the development of the Sheffield Medico-Legal Centre, a pioneering centre that linked forensic pathology with other disciplines. Jenny Goodare is looking at the history of the Royal Society in the twentieth century. Alex Hall is working on the understanding and management of environmental disasters in the second half of the twentieth century. Jakob Whitfield is on a CASE studentship with the Museum of Science and Industry Manchester (MoSI), investigating the history of gas turbine development at Metropolitan-Vickers in Trafford Park from the 1930s. 

Also returning, following a year in the Netherlands, is Ellen van Reuler, who will start a Welcome Trust project on comparative cancer care between the UK and the Netherlands in Semester Two. Our new face is Imogen Clarke, who is starting an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral studentship, jointly with the Science Museum London, exploring the transition from 'classical' to 'modern' physics in early twentieth century Britain.


22 September 2009
CHSTM seminar series, September-December 2009

Our main seminar programme for Semester One is now available.


photograph of candidate, supervisor and examiners
Ian Miller (2nd from right) with his supervisor, Ian Burney and the examiners, John Pickstone and Roberta Bivins

18 September 2009
Viva success: Ian Miller

CHSTM congratulates Ian Miller, who successfully defended his PhD thesis on the subject of gastric illness in Britain c.1800 - 1950. Following the completion of his dissertation, Ian has joined the staff at the Centre for the History of Medicine in Ireland at University College Dublin.


15 September 2009
CHSTM contributes to new doctoral training programme: Literature, Science and Medicine

CHSTM is one of twelve partners, led by the University of Salford, to have received an Arts and Humanities Research Council award for a collaborative doctoral training programme, "Theories and Methods: Literature, Science and Medicine".

From 2009 to 2011, the Universities of Manchester, Salford, Keele, Leicester, King's College London, the London Consortium, the Science Museum, National Maritime Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, Royal College of Surgeons, Royal Institution of Great Britain, and the Wellcome Library will work together to run a programme of training events. There will be twenty funded places per event for PhD students in this field to pursue this training. After funding has finished, a programme website, hosted by the University of Salford, will continue to offer training resources in this subject.

For further information, please contact Dr Stephanie Snow.


11 September 2009
Drugs, Standards and Chronic Illness , 27-28 November

A provisional programme for the 'Drugs, Standards and Chronic Illness' Workshop is now available at the link below:

13 August 2009
Cultures of hygiene/Creole science, 3-4 September

A two-day symposium organised with colleagues in the School of Arts, Histories and Cultures and the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Programme and registration information are provided at the link below:


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Jakob with team-mates Tom Whyman, Rachel Neiman and Nick Daunt, and host Jeremy Paxman

27 July 2009
CHSTM University Challenge!

Followers of cult quiz show University Challenge may have noticed CHSTM graduate student Jakob Whitfield helming this year's University of Manchester representatives. The team, who are striving to outdo their predecessors' famously technical triumph with a clear-cut victory, are off to a strong start, winning 235-60 against the Royal Veterinary College in their first-round match. "The only HSTM answer I remember coming up," reports Jakob, "was On the Origin of Species, which was in response to a bonus question about commemorative £2 coins..." Manchester go on to face King's College London, in a match to be broadcast some time in October.

Jakob joined us as an MSc student in 2008, on an ESRC-funded CASE studentship in collaboration with the Museum of Science and Industry. He expects to proceed to PhD study later this year.


27 July 2009
Vlad Jankovic at Colby College

CHSTM's Vladimir Jankovic has received a 2009 Goldfarb Fellowship from the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Colby College, Maine. Vlad's visit to Colby coincided with the National Science Foundation conference on Climate and Cultural Anxiety, at which Vlad gave a keynote address under the title ‘Show Me The Money: Climate Change and Economy in 2009.’ The address was boradcast on National Public Radio, and is available as a podcast.

Contributions from the conference will appear as Volume 26 of the annual Osiris: Vladimir Jankovic and James Fleming, eds, Climate and Cultural Anxiety (University of Chicago Press, 2010).


Val Harrington, Tom Lean, Holly Ennis in graduand gowns

15 July 2009
PhD graduations

Our warmest congratulations to (l-r) Doctors Val Harrington, Tom Lean and Holly Ennis, who all received their PhDs at the graduation ceremony yesterday!


Melissa Smith receiving the BSHS Singer Prize 2009 from Jeff Hughes at the National Space Centre, Leicester
Melissa receives the prize from BSHS President Jeff Hughes at the National Space Centre

10 July 2009
Melissa Smith receives BSHS Singer Prize

At the recent BSHS conference in Leicester, CHSTM PhD student Melissa Smith was awarded the Society's 2008 Singer Prize for an unpublished essay in the history of science. Melissa's essay, entitled "Architects of Armageddon: Scientific advisers and civil defence in Britain, 1945-68", impressed the judges by "the flair and ambition of the essay, by its critical engagement with the existing literature on post-war British science and government, and by its extensive use of primary archival sources."

Many congratulations to Melissa.


10 July 2009
CHSTM at BSHS 2009

A dozen staff and students attended the annual conference of the British Society for the History of Science in Leicester at the beginning of the month. CHSTM's Jeff Hughes, currently in the middle of his term as President of the BSHS, delivered an entertaining and well-received Presidential Address. In a year of Darwin commemorations, Jeff chose to focus on Charles Galton Darwin -- physicist and grandson of the Origin of Species author -- and on the role of commemoration in developing scientific institutions such as the Royal Society.

Jeff Hughes with image of Charles Galton Darwin
Jeff Hughes gives the Presidential Address

Taking advantage of Leicester's status as home to the National Space Centre, PhD student James Farry organised a round-table discussion session on the history of British space science, with contributions from practitioners and historians. Individual research papers by Anna Carlsson-Hyslop, Ray Macauley, Paul Marshall, Ian Martin, Melissa Smith and James Sumner addressed topics ranging from storm-surge monitoring to the birth of electronic banking.

As in previous years, the Saturday of the conference included a programme strand on teaching and communicating the history of science to broader audiences. Tom Lean, Mike Brown, Emily Hankin and Vicky Long contributed to a variety of events, ranging from developing classroom resources on Batesian mimicry to a drama production on nineteenth-century spiritualism.

We hope to be equally closely involved in next year's meeting, to be held at the University of Aberdeen.


10 July 2009
New outreach appointment

CHSTM welcomes Vicky Long, who has taken up a joint Research Associate/Outreach Officer role at the Centre.

Vicky reaches us from the Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Warwick, where she has most recently been researching healthcare in the industrial workplace. Her new post, funded by the Wellcome Trust, will involve communicating ideas in the history of medicine and related fields to school groups and a wide variety of general public audiences. Look out for updates to our 'For the public' section soon!


23 July 2009
MPI-WG fellowship for Chris Plumb

Christopher Plumb has been awarded a Max Planck Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, and will finish writing his PhD thesis at the Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science) in Berlin between September 2009 and March 2010. Chris's thesis, "Nature Collected, Nature Captured: the changing spectacle and meanings of exotic animals in Britain, 1675-1828", is supervised jointly by CHSTM's John Pickstone and Dr Sam Alberti of the Centre for Museology.


17 July 2009
PhD studentship on physics in Britain, 1900-1940

We are pleased to be able to announce an AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Studentship, jointly supervised with the Science Museum, London, under the title Negotiating 'Progress': Promoting 'Modern' Physics in Britain 1900-1940. Available for commencement in September 2009, the project will explore the transition from 'classical' to 'modern' physics in the early twentieth century.


12 May 2009
Manchester History of Medicine Lecture 2009: Susan Lederer

We are delighted to announce that this year's History of Medicine Open Lecture will be given by Professor Susan Lederer of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The lecture will take place on Wednesday 20 May.


6 April 2009
Call for papers: Drugs, standards and chronic illness workshop

As part of the ESF Research Networking Programme 'Standard Drugs and Drug Standards', CHSTM will be hosting a workshop on 27-28 November 2009. The deadline for proposals is Friday 8 May. Submission information is provided at the link below:


16 March 2009
Manchester Histories Festival, Saturday 21 March

If you live locally, why not come along to the Manchester Histories Festival at Manchester Town Hall on Saturday? Co-ordinated by CHSTM's John Pickstone, the Festival brings together contributions from some 60 local organisations and 40 schools in the area. It will feature extensive input from CHSTM staff and students working to describe the role of science, technology and medicine in the growth of the definitive industrial city.

CHSTM's contributions include a public talk on Manchester medicine by Michael Worboys, discussion of local computing and a walk around John Dalton's Manchester led by James Sumner, and posters from several staff and students in the Great Hall.

Response so far has been terrific, with all advance tickets for the walks and talks taken, but more will be available on the day. Look out for the CHSTM stand in the Education Room, displaying samples of our recent publications.

We hope to see you there!


11 March 2009
Job announcement: Wellcome Research Associate / Outreach post

We are now seeking applications for a dual role as Research Associate (50% FTE) and Outreach Officer (50% FTE) in the History of Medicine to work in the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine within CHSTM.

This post would suit a historian of modern medicine, science or allied field, with a recent (or imminent) PhD, who wishes to develop their profile into the expanding area of outreach, while at the same time developing their research experience and profile.

The post will be available from 1 May 2009 or to start at a later negotiated date, and is tenable up to 30 September 2011. Salary £28,839 - £33,432 p.a. Informal queries may be made to Professor Michael Worboys.

6 March 2009
Simon Open Lecture: Professor Harriet Ritvo, Tuesday 10 March

Our current Simon Visiting Professor is Harriet Ritvo, Professor of History at MIT. She will give a public lecture on The Dawn of Green: Manchester, Thirlmere and Modern Environmentalism at 5.15pm on Tuesday 10 March, in Lecture Theatre A, University Place, Oxford Road (see Maps and travel).

Professor Ritvo will discuss the mid-nineteenth century controversy that developed from the plan by Manchester Corporation to develop Thirlmere, in the distant Lake District, to supply water for the city. During the struggle, many of the ideas and issues that characterize the modern environmental movement were first expressed and debated.

The lecture will be followed by a reception.

The following Tuesday (17 March), Professor Ritvo will deliver the CHSTM seminar on 'Counting sheep in the English Lake District'.

3 February 2009
Postgraduate Open Day, Wednesday 25 March

Owing to popular demand, we are organising another Open Day for prospective students (MSc and PhD) on the afternoon of Wednesday 25 March. As before, travel bursaries may be available: please contact Dr Flurin Condrau for details.

20 February 2009
Mental Health Forum programme, February-June 2009

The Mental Health Forum is now meeting every month for seminars and discussions. Details of the spring programme are available now.

4 February 2009
Lunchtime seminars, February-June 2009

This semester's programme of lunchtime seminars is now available.

29 January 2009
Postgraduate Open Day, Wednesday 11 February

Interested in learning more about graduate study or research at CHSTM? Come along to our Open Day and find out about the possibilities. Travel bursaries are available.

23 January 2009
Report from the BSHS Postgraduate Conference

Earlier this month, CHSTM played host to the annual British Society for the History of Science Postgraduate Conference, with nearly fifty delegates from a wide variety of international backgrounds. CHSTM itself was well represented by its first-year PhD students who, as well as delivering high quality presentations, gained valuable hints on furthering their work. Our thanks to the organisers and to all participants for making this possible.

23 January 2009
New book: The Quest for Public Health in Manchester

Quest for Public Health cover

20 January saw the launch of the new book by CHSTM's Emma Jones and John Pickstone. The Quest for Public Health in Manchester surveys local innovations from the Industrial Revolution to the present day, highlighting the fact Manchester has been at the cutting edge of research and innovation for centuries. In the 1830s it was the first city in the world to establish a Statistical Society to collect data on the poor, and in the 1890s it led on the use of microbiology and on techniques for sewage treatment. Recent highlights include the Clean Air campaigns after the Second World War and the work on AIDS and mental health pioneered in North Manchester in the 1980s.

The book was launched at the inaugural meeting of Developing Research and Education to Advance Medicine (DREAM), a project set up by NHS Manchester, with University involvement, to give research and teaching a much greater role in improving the health of local communities.

23 January 2009
Visiting students this semester

CHSTM welcomes two visiting students for the spring semester.

Laura Kelly is currently pursuing doctoral research on early women medical graduates in Ireland (1870s-1920s) with Aileen Fyfe at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Paula Habib is a doctoral student at the Casa de Oswaldo Cruz in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, pursuing research on the ways in which early twentieth century Brazilian agricultural scientists made use of biological theory.

14 January 2009
CHSTM seminar series, February-June 2009

Our main seminar programme for Semester Two is now available.

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2008 graduands and guests

5 January 2009
Viva congratulations: Val Harrington

December saw a successful viva for Valerie Harrington, who has written the post-war history of mental health services in Manchester and Salford, supervised by John Pickstone and Emm Barnes. Our congratulations to Val.

December also saw graduations for our 2007-08 MSc cohort; and for both Fiona Kilpatrick and Chris Neilson, who recently completed PhD study.