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Dissertation and essay supervisors

This is a list of people who are willing to supervise Part II dissertations, Part III essays and dissertations, and MPhil essays and dissertations, together with the topics they are prepared to supervise.

Before you contact a potential supervisor, please read the advice about supervision in the appropriate students' guide. Supervisors' contact details can be found on Lookup.

You may find it helpful to search this page (Ctrl+F on Windows, ⌘F on Mac) for key words associated with the topics that interest you.

Teaching Officers

Anna Alexandrova

  • General philosophy of science (including models, causation, laws, explanation, values, feminist epistemology)
  • Philosophy of the social and psychological sciences (including rational choice and game theory applications, philosophy of economics, measurement, policy and social engineering, John Stuart Mill)
  • Topics in ethics and political philosophy (well-being, happiness, paternalism)
  • Topics in recent history of social science

Mary Augusta Brazelton

Global studies of science and medicine, including:

  • Transnational science and medicine
  • International and global public health
  • History of science and medicine in modern East Asia, especially China
  • Colonial science and medicine
  • Medicine and biomedical research in the 20th century

Hasok Chang

Michaelmas Term only

  • General philosophy of science, including realism, reductionism, explanation, demarcation, progress and confirmation
  • History and philosophy of physics
  • History and philosophy of chemistry
  • Philosophy of scientific practice
  • Pragmatism
  • Pluralism
  • Historiography and HPS methodology

Helen Curry

History of 20th-century science and technology, especially:

  • History of biology
  • History of biotechnology
  • History of ecology and environmental science
  • History of environmentalism
  • American science
  • Environmental history
  • History of agriculture and food production
  • History of horticulture and gardening
  • Science and popular culture
  • Science and politics
  • Amateur science
  • Citizen science
  • Science and technology in the atomic age

Marta Halina

  • General philosophy of science (especially abstraction and idealization, experimentation, explanation, modeling, the new mechanistic philosophy)
  • Philosophy of psychology and cognitive science (especially animal cognition and communication, cognitive ethology, distributed cognition, folk psychology, neuroscience)
  • Philosophy of biology (especially evolutionary developmental biology, mechanism discovery and modeling, model organisms)
  • History of 20th-century psychology (especially nonhuman animal psychology)

Nick Hopwood

History of medicine and biology since 1800, especially in Germany, Britain and the United States; visual communication and the media of science:

  • Reproductive sciences, technologies and medicine, including the still largely unexplored history of in vitro fertilization and other Cambridge innovations and institutions
  • Visual communication and the media of science, e.g. book illustration, icons of evolution, models and other visual aids, microscopical techniques, training for scientific and medical artists, portraits, anatomy museums, exhibitions
  • Other topics in the history of laboratory biology, evolutionary biology and medicine

Stephen John

  • Issues in the philosophy of public health (including Evidence Based Medicine, philosophy of epidemiology, justice and public health policy, distribution of healthcare, libertarian paternalism)
  • Science and values (including science funding, the role of values in research, inductive risk, philosophical issues in science communication, risk analysis)
  • Epistemology and ethics (including testimony, the knowledge norm for action)
  • Environmental ethics (including the precautionary principle, environmental value)
  • Medical ethics (including double effect, non-identity problem, euthanasia)

Lauren Kassell

History of early modern medicine, natural philosophy and the occult sciences:

  • Social history of medicine: gender, generation, patient-practitioner encounters, medical pluralism
  • Histories of alchemy, astrology, magic and witchcraft
  • Paper technologies: written records and printed books
  • Digital humanities

Tim Lewens

  • Philosophy of biology
  • Philosophical bioethics
  • General topics in the philosophy of science

Simon Schaffer

  • Social history of physical sciences
  • History of experimental natural philosophy
  • Astronomical and navigational sciences between 1700 and 1900
  • Sociology of scientific knowledge

Jim Secord

  • Social history of science since 1750, life and earth sciences
  • Public science from the French Revolution to the First World War, esp. in Britain, France and the United States: exhibitions, zoos, education, museums, scientific architecture, careers, textbooks, public lecturing, mechanics institutes, children's science, images of the scientist, government support for science, science in periodicals and newspapers
  • Scientific books, publishing and history of science communication (mostly British, 1790–1960): histories of individual firms (e.g. Cambridge University Press, Penguin), changing nature of authorship, history of the scientific article, history of scientific libraries, development of scientific periodicals, techniques for scientific illustration and other aspects of production
  • Science and literature, esp. Romantic and early Victorian: literary readings of scientific works, travel literature, science and the novel, autobiography
  • Religion and science in the 19th century: conversion experiences, denominational responses to science (e.g. early geology, astronomy, cosmology), Darwinian debates, atheism and science
  • History of earth sciences, 18th century to present: early theories of the earth, mineral collecting and prospecting, geological mapping, origins of geological timescale, debates about biblical flood, volcanoes, debates about uniformity and catastrophe, government surveys, oceanographic exploration, reception of continental drift, history of vertebrate and invertebrate palaeontology, history of public attitudes to geology
  • Imperialism and science (mostly 19th century): exploration, expeditions, surveys, botanical gardens, geological and natural history surveys, etc; science and race; science and public support for empire; imperial expositions and fairs; science, religion and empire, geography and empire

Richard Staley

The history of the physical sciences (broadly construed) from the 19th century to the present, including in particular:

  • The relations between material, intellectual, social and cultural dimensions of science
  • Instruments and the material culture of science
  • Exhibitions, scientific congresses, and other approaches to (inter)nationalism in science
  • Science in the fin de siècle, science and modernity, science and literature
  • Physics and other disciplines; the relations between the physical and human sciences
  • Laboratory, observatory, field and infrastructural sciences
  • Climate change
  • Science and technology in the 20th century
  • Science and war
  • Aspects of the history of anthropology

Jacob Stegenga

  • General philosophy of science: evidence, confirmation, explanation, causation, theory choice, and values in science
  • Philosophy of medicine: research methods in medicine, the concept of disease, and philosophy of psychiatry
  • Philosophy of biology: evolution, the concept of population, and units of selection
  • Formal methods in philosophy of science: confirmation theory, probability and statistics, and social choice theory

Liba Taub

History of scientific instruments and material culture of science; early (particularly ancient Greek and Roman) science:

  • Early (particularly ancient Greek and Roman) science
    • Especially physics, cosmology, astronomy, harmonics, meteorology, geography, ethnography, agriculture
    • Styles of communicating scientific ideas and methods
    • The engagement of 19th- and 20th-century scientists with the ancients (e.g. Erwin Schroedinger's Nature and the Greeks)
  • History of scientific instruments
    • Material culture of science, particularly focused on items held in the Whipple collection (over 7000 objects/possible topics!)
    • The provenance of items purchased by Robert Whipple himself

Research Fellows, Teaching Associates and Affiliates

Salim Al-Gailani

History of medicine and the life sciences since 1800, including:

  • Maternity care and experiences of pregnancy and childbirth, including maternal and infant health and welfare in the 19th and 20th centuries
  • Reproductive technologies and medicine, birth control and abortion
  • History of surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology
  • History and politics of heredity/eugenics
  • History of anatomy, pathology and 'monstrosity'
  • Medical museums and their uses; material culture of medicine/life sciences and scientific collecting
  • Medicine and the public, including public health campaigns, health guides, patient-consumers, health and environmental activism
  • History of nutrition and nutritional guidelines, vitamins and health foods

Leah Astbury

History of early modern medicine, the family and gender:

  • Social history of medicine: domestic medicine, patient-practitioner encounters and maintaining health
  • Writing practices: life-writing (diaries, letters, commonplace books)
  • History of the body and gender
  • Childbirth: fertility, maternal and infant health

Shahar Avin

  • Science funding
  • Existential risk
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Social epistemology
  • Software projects, especially models (technical guidance)

Debby Banham

On leave in 2016–17

Sarah Bull

History of medicine from 1800 to 1950, especially:

  • Medicine and print culture, including history of reading, publishing and bookselling, medical bibliography, medical libraries, medical journals
  • Other forms of media and medicine
  • Medicine and commerce (medical advertising; medical products)
  • Medical professionalisation
  • Sexuality and sexual health

Robbie Duschinsky

The history and sociology of psychological research and practice, including:

  • Psychoanalysis and child development
  • Gender and psychiatry
  • The sociology of psychiatry and psychology, especially classificatory practices
  • Social and political theory, affect and gender theory

Patricia Fara

  • 18th-century physical sciences
  • Science, art and literature in the 18th century
  • Scientific portraits and imagery
  • Isaac Newton and his influence
  • Women in science
  • Erasmus Darwin and the Lunar Society
  • Joseph Banks and botanical imperialism
  • Science in World War One

Sietske Fransen

Early modern history of medicine and natural philosophy:

  • Language and translation
  • Circulation of ideas, books, objects and images
  • Visualisation of knowledge
  • History of manuscripts and printed books
  • Images in scientific communication

Marina Frasca-Spada

History of the philosophy of science; 18th-century studies:

  • Topics in mainstream epistemology and philosophy of science
  • Classical topics in the history of the philosophy of science from Descartes to Kant
  • Text-based work on philosophy classics
  • Argument and persuasive strategies in the history of philosophy: rhetoric and style, philosophical writing and genres
  • Relations between 18th-century philosophy and literature: classical empiricism and the culture of sensibility
  • The history of the book in relation to philosophy and the sciences
  • Related topics in the history of education: learning, teaching and writing for Restoration Cambridge students and dons, or publication by/for women in the 18th century

Nick Jardine

Historiography of the sciences, early-modern astronomy and cosmology, history of natural history, history of philosophy of science:

  • Historiography of the sciences: the founding fathers and mothers (Whewell, Duhem, Sarton, Koyré, Metzger, etc.); polemical uses of history of the sciences; problems of historical interpretation; anachronism; problems of historical explanation and narration; theories of social construction, network formation, mediated exchange of knowledge; cultural history of the sciences; history of science in relation to anthropology, history of the book, cultural geography; etc.
  • Early-modern astronomy and cosmology: the battle of the world-systems; the places of astronomy in early-modern culture; astronomical imagery; etc.
  • History of natural history: cabinets and museums; travelling and collecting; natural history and natural theology; popular natural history; curiosities and monstrosities; etc.
  • History of philosophy of science: Kant and the Kantian heritage; pragmatism

Peter Jones

On leave in 2016–17

Melanie Keene

  • History of popular science, especially 19th century
  • Science and literature
  • Science for children
  • History of education

Allison Ksiazkiewicz

  • History of 18th- and 19th-century earth sciences
  • History of aesthetics
  • History of antiquarianism
  • Visual representation of science and visualization practices
  • Science, art and technology
  • Natural history museums

Sachiko Kusukawa

History of early modern natural philosophy, natural history, medicine and visualisation:

  • Observational practices, 1450–1750
  • The making and circulation of drawings, objects, printed images, 1450–1750
  • Illustrations in the Philosophical Transactions or licensed publications of the Royal Society
  • Concepts and uses of colour, 1450–1750
  • Natural history, 1450–1750

Simon Mitton

  • Astronomy since 1450
  • Observational cosmology
  • Astrophysics
  • Astronomy in the 20th century – instrumentation, telescopes, observatories, radio and space astronomy, planetary science

Joshua Nall

History of scientific material culture, astronomy and popular science in the 19th and 20th century, in particular:

  • The roles and uses of scientific instruments and models in the modern physical sciences
  • History of astrophysics and astrobiology, 1860–1920
  • Museums, exhibitions and expositions in the fin de siècle
  • Popular science, media networks, scientific journalism, 1860–1920

Jesse Olszynko-Gryn

History of medicine and technology since 1900, especially in Britain:

  • Reproductive technologies
  • Sex hormones, endocrinology and the pharmaceutical industry
  • Laboratories, diagnostics and tests
  • Population, environment and science fiction
  • Mass-market books, comics, magazines, newspapers and television
  • Cinema, especially reproduction on film

Richard Oosterhoff

  • Natural philosophy and/or mixed mathematics (i.e. including astronomy, optics, music, architecture, etc.)
  • Science and religion
  • History of universities (scholasticism and humanism)
  • Book culture (especially premodern mathematics, manuscript and early print, palaeography, textbooks, history of reading, visual culture of books)
  • Artisans and science (mathematical practitioners; art and science; perspective)

James Poskett

Global and imperial history of science, 1750–1900, including:

  • History of race and slavery
  • History of anthropology and phrenology
  • History of the book and periodical press, particularly in the colonial world, United States and Britain
  • History of museums and the material culture of science
  • History of photography
  • Maritime and naval history
  • History of science in India
  • History of science in the United States
  • Other area studies: South Asia, North America, Atlantic, Arctic, Australia, Pacific, South Africa
  • Historiographical topics related to global history, imperial history and postcolonial studies

Valentina Pugliano

Natural history and medicine in early modern Europe (especially Italy), the Mediterranean, and the Levant, and especially:

  • Artisans in/and science
  • Interconnections between medicine and life sciences
  • Medical practice, pharmacy and the drug trade across Europe and the Mediterranean
  • Medicine in the Levant and the Ottoman Empire
  • Medicine at sea; medical and scientific travel
  • Collecting and the material culture of early modern science and medicine
  • Women in the medical trades
  • Women in the life sciences
  • Anything related to the Republic of Venice
  • Recipe literature

Sophie Reijman

Humanities approaches to:

  • Childhood
  • Contemporary developmental psychology
  • Neuroscience
  • Psychological trauma

Sally Riordan

Philosophy of science, philosophy of physics, philosophy of mathematics:

  • History and philosophy of measurement
  • Epistemology of experiment and instrumentation
  • 18th- and 19th-century history of physical sciences
  • Scientific realism, definition and meaning of scientific terms
  • The role of mathematics in the physical sciences

Anne Secord

  • Popular science, 19th-century
  • Natural history, 18th and 19th-century
  • History of scientific observation, 18th and 19th-century
  • Scientific personae

Andreas Sommer

  • Concepts of mental influence in medicine and psychology
  • Historiography of psychical research
  • William James
  • 19th- and early 20th-century psychology (particularly Germany and the US)
  • History of mesmerism and hypnotism
  • Epistemic deviance and unorthodox knowledge
  • Pragmatism (particularly James and F.C.S. Schiller)

Paul White

  • Natural history, 18th–20th century
  • Biological sciences, 19th–20th century
  • Scientific persona and identity construction
  • Relations of science and literature
  • Gender and science
  • Travel and exploration
  • Science and religion
  • Science and the visual arts
  • Darwin/Darwinism/evolutionary theory
  • Emotions in science and medicine

Gabriella Zuccolin

  • History of medieval, Renaissance and early modern medicine
  • History of medieval philosophy
  • Theories of generation in the Middle Ages
  • History of medieval physiognomy