Lynn K. Nyhart
Title: Vilas-Bablitch-Kelch Distinguished Achievement
Professor, History of Science
Interests: History of biology, especially natural history and
evolution, anatomy and physiology, ecology, and
marine science; biology and society; history of
relations between elite and popular science.
Office:Room 226, Bradley Memorial Building
My current research examines the history of ideas about biological individuality, parts, and wholes in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. What counts as a whole individual in biology? What counts as a part? Anatomists, physiologists, zoologists, and botanists have all found this a compelling question at different moments in the history of biology, and one of those moments was the middle of the nineteenth century, when not only biological individuals, parts, and wholes were being defined but also modern nation-states and the roles of their citizenry. How did biological language spill over into political language, and vice-versa? What was the role of translation in circulating (and blocking) ideas about these topics through different language and cultural groups? These are two of the many questions I'm pursuing, together with my project collaborator Scott Lidgard (Field Museum). In 2012 we have co-organized two workshops to explore such issues in a larger interdisciplinary framework that brings together historians, philosophers, and biologists, with the aim of producing a synthetic volume on biological individuality.
Beyond my research, I'm interested in rethinking how the discipline of the history of science should situate itself within our larger culture. As president of the History of Science Society (2012-13), I've been working with our members to rethink the role of our organization in a world in which Ph.D. degrees do not necessarily lead to tenure-track academic positions, and in which we need to be creative about finding opportunities for engaging with a wider interested public. It is an exciting challenge, and there is much to be done.
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, History and Sociology of Science, 1986
M.A., University of Pennsylvania, History and Sociology of Science, 1982
A.B., Princeton University, History/History and Philosophy of Science, 1979
Lynn K. Nyhart, "Wissenschaft and Kunde: The General and the Special in Modern Science," Osiris 27 (2012), 250-275.
Lynn K. Nyhart, "Economic and Civic Zoology in Late Nineteenth-Century Germany: The 'Living Communities' of Karl Moebius," Isis 89:4 (1998), 605-630. Winner of the1999 Derek Price Award from the History of Science Society for outstanding article published in Isis.
HistSci 202: The Rise of Modern Science
HistSci 333: History of Modern Biology
HistSci 343: The Darwinian Revolution
HistSci 909: Seminar in History of Biology and Medicine
ILS 202: Western Civilization: Science, Technology, Philosophy II