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Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Archived news for 2015

3 December 2015


CHSTM was well represented at the recent History of Science Society annual meeting, held in San Francisco on 19-22 November. In total we presented eight papers stemming from the work of four of our research projects: David Kirby and Ray Macaulay from ‘Playing God’, with Amy Chambers also in attendance; Pratik Chakrabarti and Joydeep Sen from ‘An Antique Land’, Simone Turchetti and Sam Robinson from ‘The Earth under Surveillance’, and Ian Burney and Neil Pemberton from ‘The Forensics of Homicide’.

We were (we’re pretty sure) the single most represented department at the meeting from anywhere in the world! Flying the CHSTM flag was an onerous responsibility, of course, but as the photo suggests San Francisco did offer some good compensation for our efforts.


3 December 2015
Graduate studies open day: video available

A recording of our graduate studies open day sessions on taught Master's and research study at CHSTM is now available. The sessions cover course structures, fees and funding, career destinations, and general information about life at CHSTM.


3 December 2015
New staff: Harriet Palfreyman

Dr Harriet Palfreyman has joined CHSTM on a three-year Williamson fellowship to research the visual culture of pathology in nineteenth century Britain. She will focus on visual representations of disease, such as illustrations, models and preserved specimens, in order to explore how such representations developed thinking about disease in this period.

Harriet was previously a research associate at Imperial College London, where she worked on a project examining the emergence of minimally invasive surgery in the late twentieth century.



6 November 2015
Vladimir Jankovic at Manchester Policy Week

CHSTM’s historian of climate and the environment, Vladimir Jankovic, took part in two public debates as part of Manchester Policy Week. 'Hot in the City' focused on current prospects in urban climate governance and the polices that aim to reduce the dangerous warming trends in world cities, while 'Climate, Crises and Policy' saw participants debating how climate sciences inform decision-making.

Manchester Policy Week is a five-day annual programme of discussion, lectures, workshops, simulations and films, bringing together academics, students, policymakers and others to discuss key policy issues. CHSTM is pleased to work closely with colleagues from other disciplines to contribute to current thinking on science, technology and healthcare policy.


6 November 2015
European summer school on urban history and the history of science

CHSTM PhD Erin Beeston escaped the drizzle of Manchester this summer to attend a six-day summer school on “Cities and Science: Urban History and the History of Science in the Study of Early Modern and Modern Europe”, held at the Central European University in Budapest. The school provided in-depth seminars on themes that bridged the urban history and the history of science, technology and medicine, and was attended by twenty postgraduate students from across Europe.

Each day involved seminars with leading academics, who then gave a public lecture on a related topic. Topics covered by the summer school were environmental history approaches to cities and science, cities and the appliance of science, ‘humanity on display’, locating and popularising science, and human-animal relations in urban settings. Every afternoon, students gave papers on their own research to peers and faculty members who provided useful feedback.

Erin’s attendance at the summer school was made possible by funding from CHSTM, the Zochonis Special Enterprise Fund, and the Science Museum Group. You can read more about her trip on the CHSTM PhD blog.


23 October 2015
Celebrating Research Success in FLS talk on 6 Nov 2013: David Kirby on 'Indecent Science'

CHSTM's David Kirby will be holding a lecture in the Faculty's Celebrating Research Success series on 6 November 2015, 3-4pm, in the Michael Smith Lecture Theatre. The title of the talk is 'Indecent Science: Religion, Science and Movie Censorship, 1930-1968'.

From 1930 to 1968 movie studios sent their screenplays to be approved by censorship groups in the U.S. and U.K including Hollywood’s official censorship body the “Hays Office”, the Catholic Church’s Legion of Decency and the British Board of Film Censors. David's talk uses material from the archives of these organizations to explore how censorship groups modified cinematic narratives in order to tell what they considered to be more appropriate stories about science as a social, political and cultural force. Using films including Frankenstein (1931), Quatermass Experiment (1955), and Inherit the Wind (1960), David will demonstrate how censors considered the potential moral consequences of science and scientific ways of thinking including the theological implications of scientific research, the blasphemy of scientism, and the horror of scientific realism.

13 October 2015
@ManCHSTM #SciComm FTW @McrSciFest #msf15


MSc students Jair Sian and Emily Lambert show contrasting responses to an experiment to map their tastebuds at the launch party.

This year's Manchester Science Festival launch had extra impact thanks to the first cohort of students on the University's new MSc in Science Communication. The students livetweeted throughout the launch party on Thursday evening at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Also promoting the European City of Science (ECOS) 2016, the party was a thoroughly entertaining and inspiring evening of demonstrations, experiments and 'sneak peeks' of what is to come during this exciting year of science in Manchester. ECOS director Annie Keane said that the student social media team had done a 'great job' in helping to get the programme off to 'such a fabulous start' on Twitter and Instagram.

The Manchester Science Festival runs from 22 October to 1 November with events across the city for all ages.

Manchester is the European City of Science 2016 and the EuroScience Open Forum runs from 23 to 27 July 2016.

Report by Amy Hodgson. The social media team was Amy Hodgson, Jair Sian, Emily Lambert, Bernadette Tynan, Alec Wilby and Dave Saunders.


10 October 2015
Stephanie Snow helps Manchester mark World Stroke Day

l-r: Mary Davies, stroke survivor, Professor Pippa Tyrrell and Rona Hopwood working with brain scan images

CHSTM research fellow Stephanie Snow, working in collaboration with the Stroke Association and visual artist Elisa Artesero, is curating a pop-up exhibition at Manchester Museum to commemorate World Stroke Day on 29 October 2015. The exhibition features creative work produced by a group of stroke survivors, based on their experiences of adapting to life after stroke and inspired by Manchester Museum’s extensive mask collection.

The exhibition, titled Stroke: Stories of the self through art and science, is running as part of the Manchester Science Festival. It is the first output of a larger project that brings together stroke survivors, patient groups, artists, clinicians, scientists, researchers and students from across the University and beyond in order to explore the life-changing aspects of stroke.

Stephanie’s collaboration with the Stroke Association and stroke survivors is ongoing and will result in a major exhibition of creative work and engagement events at the 2016 Manchester European City of Science festival. You can visit YouTube to watch a short film about the workshops.


24 September 2015
Forensics II’ conference held in London

Ian Burney and Neil Pemberton recently worked with Chris Hamlin, professor of history at Notre Dame University, to organize an international conference on the history of forensics, which was co-sponsored by CHSTM, the Wellcome Trust, Notre Dame’s Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts (ISLA), its College of Arts and Letters, and its John J Reilly Center.

This is the second major conference to result from Ian and Neil’s Wellcome Trust project on the history of forensics. It focused on the importance of location, both temporal and spatial, to the production and enactment of different forms of forensic knowledge. Over the course of two days, seventeen multidisciplinary speakers from universities around the world gave papers that called into question what we now recognize as an infallible and unobjectionable forensic science: considering how its role in society and credibility depended on time, place, and cultural identities, relating in particular to the British Empire and colonialism.

Summing up a successful meeting, Ian Burney said: “One of the main aims of the conference was to establish a global network of scholars, from a variety of career stages, to further stimulate scholarship in the area, and help those already working in the area to discover one another. At the final post-mortem session everyone committed themselves to developing this network, and we already have plans for our next meeting!”


24 September 2015

A rhino at Frankfurt zoo. The growing focus on health and the interconnections between species has led scientists to designate some endangered animals as priority or ‘keystone’ species; and attempts to secure their survival through captive breeding programmes often involve the use of high-tech procedures that straddle the boundary between human and animal medicine and foster new inter-species relations.

Duncan Wilson: new Wellcome University Award on species loss and the ecology of human-animal health

Duncan Wilson has recently won a Wellcome Trust University Award for his research project on ‘Species Loss and the Ecology of Human-Animal Health: Understanding and Preventing Extinction in the Twentieth Century and Beyond’. Drawing on the archives of conservation organisations, scientific laboratories and zoos, as well as interviews with conservation biologists and policymakers, the project will explore and historicise the scientific interest in connections between species loss and human health, and will focus on how awareness of these connections underpinned new ways of viewing, valuing and intervening in the natural world from the 1940s onwards.

The project aims to bridge important approaches in the medical humanities and environmental history, and will enable Duncan to build on his work into the history of bioethics by continuing to engage with contemporary issues. Given the dire warnings about the rates and consequences of species loss today, which scientists label the ‘sixth mass extinction’, we urgently need histories that help us to reflect on who, or rather what, counts in our societies and why.

This Wellcome University Award scheme allows universities to attract outstanding humanities and social science research staff working in any area of human and animal health. Support is provided for up to five years, after which time the award holder takes up a guaranteed permanent post at the university.


23 September 2015
CHSTM seminars, September to December

The CHSTM seminar programme for the coming semester is now available.


22 September 2015
Lunchtime seminars, September to December

The latest schedule for our weekly Tuesday lunchtime seminar, organised by CHSTM PhD students, is now available.


14 September 2015
Visiting PhD student: Sanne Aagaard Jansen

Sanne Aagaard Jensen will shortly be joining CHSTM as a visiting PhD student. Sanne is currently working on a project entitled “Securing Communications: The Danish Emergency Planning and NATO Cooperation on Telecommunications, 1945-1990.”

Her research is jointly supervised at the Danish Post and Tele Museum and the Saxo Institute at the University of Copenhagen. Sanne will stay at CHSTM for three months to develop her PhD, exchange ideas with staff and students, and establish new connections. Velkommen, Sanne!


21 April 2015
Conferences at CHSTM this summer

We are looking forward to a busy conference programme this June and July. You can find further details by clicking on the links below or on our conference page.

Stories about science: exploring science communication and entertainment media
Thursday 4 and Friday 5 June 2015
This two-day symposium seeks to bring scholars from across disciplines together to explore the communication of science through entertainment media in order to uncover new ways of approaching, understanding, and theorizing about this topic.

Medicines, Translations and Histories
Thursday 11 and Friday 12 June 2015
This two-day symposium seeks to bring together scholars and practitioners to discuss issues around Translational Medicine, its promises and associated practices.

The Dog in 20th Century Science –Science in the 20th Century Dog
Friday 26 June 2015
This one-day meeting will consider the place of the dog in science and medicine in the 20th century, and how science has impacted upon the nature, health and welfare of dogs.

Locating Forensic Science and Medicine
Friday 24 and Saturday 25 July 2015
In recent years, forensic medicine and science have attained unprecedented visibility, representing a uniquely compelling, and at times contentious, example of applied expertise. The purpose of this conference, hosted jointly with the John J. Reilly Center and held at the University of Notre Dame Global Gateway in London is to explore ways, and assess the value, of thinking about forensics, past and present, from a broader, historical and trans-national perspective.


8 April 2015
Taught Master’s funding: research preparation bursary

CHSTM is pleased to announce a bursary (support grant) of £10 000 for study on its taught Master’s programmes in History of Science, Technology and Medicine (including the Medical Humanities pathway) or Science Communication. The award is aimed at highly motivated students seeking to proceed to PhD research at CHSTM. The deadline for applications is Friday 29 May.

This is a separate scheme from the University’s Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme for widening participation, which also offers bursaries of £10 000. Candidates may apply for both.


2 April 2015
New Wellcome Investigator Award on multispecies medicine

Congratulations to Rob Kirk, who has been awarded a prestigious Wellcome Trust Investigator Award to support his work on ‘multispecies medicine’. His research examines how medicine has formed various partnerships with nonhuman species to enhance health and well-being. Clinical examples include the use of maggots to treat chronic wounds and the post-surgical use of leeches to maintain blood flow and assist recovery. In wider society, we might consider service animals, such as guide dogs, diabetes alert dogs, or emotional support animals.

In each case, human health and well-being rest on the cultivation of interdependencies with other species. By reconstructing the historical development and current use of varied examples of what we might call 'multispecies medicine', this project opens up new perspectives on medicine, health and our changing relations to nonhuman life in society.

Wellcome Investigator Awards in the Medical Humanities support exceptional researchers with bold and intellectually rigorous ideas who have strong track records relative to their career stage and discipline, and the ability to innovate and drive advances at the interface of science, medicine and the humanities.


20 March 2015

l-r: Professor Dominique Pestre (external examiner); Jeff Hughes (second supervisor); Sam Robinson; Simone Turchetti (supervisor); Vlad Jankovic (internal examiner)

To Our Ships at Sea! Sam Robinson’s successful viva

Last week, Sam Robinson successfully defended his PhD dissertation “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Ocean Science and the British Cold War State”. Sam’s thesis considers the development of British oceanography during and after the Second World War and focuses especially on the key role played by George Deacon, director of the newly-established National Institute of Oceanography in the rise of sea studies in Cold War Britain.

More generally, the thesis reveals the tensions existing between government administrators and navy officials on sponsoring a novel oceanographic research programme and the implications of this programme for undersea surveillance, especially in connection with anti-submarine warfare.

The thesis is one of two to be completed in the context of the ERC-funded The Earth Under Surveillance (TEUS) project. Sam is now working towards completing applications for a post-doctoral position that will allow him to continue to research on the vast ocean, the scientists who studied it and their histories. Congratulations, Sam!


15 February 2015
Fred Jevons Science Policy Lecture 2015: Dominique Pestre, Wednesday 11 March

CHSTM, alongside the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, is delighted to welcome Professor Dominique Pestre of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris. On Wednesday 11 March, at 5.30, Professor Pestre will present the second annual Fred Jevons Lecture on science policy, speaking on "Bankspeak: the Language of World Bank Reports, 1946-2012". The event will be followed by a drinks reception.

This event is free to attend, but you must reserve a place in advance. Full details and registration are available here.


5 February 2015
Taught Master’s study: introduction and taster session, Wednesday 4 March

On Wednesday 4 March, there’s an opportunity to find out more about taught Master’s (MSc) study on our three interconnected pathways in Science communication, History of science, technology and medicine and Medical humanities, with current and former students and CHSTM staff available to answer your questions about course structures, careers, the application process, and funding.


2 February 2015
Lunchtime seminars, February to June

The latest schedule for our weekly Tuesday lunchtime seminar, organised by CHSTM PhD students, is now available.

27 January 2015
CHSTM Seminars, February to May

The CHSTM seminar programme for the coming semester is now available.


16 January 2015
ESRC-funded PhD studentship on Donald W. Winnicott and the history of child and adolescent mental health services

We are inviting applications for a PhD studentship on Donald W. Winnicott and the impact that the work of this pioneering paediatrician and psychoanalyst had on child and adolescent mental health services in Britain since the Second World War. The studentship will commence in September 2015, and is tenable for three years’ full-time study.


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