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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


University Associate Professor in Global Studies of Science, Technology and Medicine

My research interests lie broadly in historical intersections of science, technology, and medicine in China and around the world. Current projects include a study of the Sino-French Institute in Lyon, a collaborative exploration of the history of transportation technologies with particular consideration for transnational histories of civil aviation, and the early history of penicillin development in China. I received my PhD in History from Yale and taught Chinese history at Tufts University before coming to Cambridge. In 2020, I received a CUSU Student-Led Teaching Prize in Partnership; in 2023, I received a Pilkington Prize for excellence in teaching.

In 2023, I published China in Global Health: Past and Present, which argues that Chinese peoples and places were central to the development of international and global health in the twentieth century. My 2019 book, Mass Vaccination: Citizens' Bodies and State Power in Modern China, examines the history of mass immunization in twentieth-century China. It suggests that the origins of the vaccination policies that eradicated smallpox and controlled other infectious diseases in the 1950s, providing an important basis for the emergence of Chinese health policy as a model for global health, can be traced to research and development in southwest China during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

At Cambridge, I am also a Fellow of Jesus College where I direct studies in HPS, an associate member of the World History Subject Group in the History Faculty, and a Trustee and Research Fellow of the Needham Research Institute. Additionally, I am currently a Council member of the American Association for the History of Medicine. Potential students may get in touch by emailing mab94 at cam dot ac dot uk.


Research interests

Global studies of science, technology and medicine; history of medicine and the life sciences in modern China; history of transportation technologies in the twentieth century; history of international and global health.



Books and Edited Volumes

China in Global Health: Past and Present (Cambridge University Press, 2023).

From Hansa to Lufthansa: Transportation Technologies and the Mobility of Knowledge, a special issue for History of Science 61, no. 1 (2023), co-edited with Dániel Margócsy. 3-120.

Mass Vaccination: Citizens' Bodies and State Power in Modern China (Cornell, 2019). A Study of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, awarded a subvention from the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation. Read a feature here. Listen to a Cornell University Press podcast here. Download a list of the book's Chinese sources that includes characters here. Reviews: PRC History Review (with invited response); The China Quarterly; Journal of Asian Studies; Bulletin for the History of MedicineInternational Journal of Asian Studies; Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences; Technology and CultureEast Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine; Sociology of Health and IllnessJournal of the Korean Society for the History of Science (Korean); Chinese Medical Literature and Culture 中医典籍与文化 (Chinese). Essay reviews: The Historical JournalMedicine Anthropology TheoryHistorical Studies in the Natural Sciences.


History as a Partner in Public Health: A Report of the Foresight Think Tank on History of Epidemics (Manila: World Health Organization Regional Office for the Western Pacific), 2021. ISBN 978 92 9061 950 5. Co-authored with Guido Alfani, Mary Fissell, Monica Green, John Manton, Frank Snowden and Dora Vargha.

Journals and book chapters

"Aviation infrastructures in the Republic of China, 1920-37", History of Science 61, no. 1 (2023): 102-20.

"Techniques of repair, the circulation of knowledge, and environmental transformation: Towards a new history of transportation," co-authored with Dániel Margócsy, History of Science 61, no. 1 (2023): 3-18.

「中华人民共和国的群众性免疫接种:从全民健康到 全球健康」[Mass immunization in the People’s Republic of China: from national to global health],trans. Fang Xiaoping,《中共党史研究》Research on the History of the Chinese Communist Party 2022, no. 1 (special issue edited by Fang Xiaoping and Dong Guoqiang). 84-89.

“Pocket sundial with Chinese characters, by Samuel Porter, English, c. 1825,” in Joshua Nall, James Hyslop and Boris Jardine, eds., Materials for the History of Science: A Whipple Museum Festschrift to Celebrate the Directorship of Professor Liba Taub (Cambridge: Whipple Museum of the History of Science, 2022), 138-9.

“The colonial origins of novel coronaviruses,” in Dániel Margócsy and Richard Staley, eds., The Mantis Shrimp: A Simon Schaffer Festschrift (Cambridge: The Cambridge HPS Collective, 2022), 166-70.

“If Books Could Kill,” in Sadiah Qureshi and Sujit Sivasundaram, eds., Secord in Transit: A Natural History of this Most Extraordinary Human as Told by Witnesses and as Secretly Told by the Editors (Cambridge: Belmont Press, 2022), 129-35.

"Some Reflections on the History of Masked Societies in East Asia," co-authored with Jaehwan Hyun and Akihisa Setoguchi, East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal 16, no. 1 (2022): 108-116.

"Health for all?: Histories of international and global health," History Compass 20, no. 1 (2022): 1-12.

"Teaching and Learning Guide, Health for all?: Histories of international and global health," History Compass 20, no. 1 (2022): 1-12.

"Recovering Hygienic Modernity in the World of Covid-19," Isis 111, no. 4 (2020): 795-99.

"Viral Reflections: Placing China in Global Health Histories", Journal of Asian Studies 79, no. 3 (2020): 579–88. Reprinted in The Pandemic: Perspectives on Asia, ed. Vinayak Chaturvedi (Columbia University Press, 2020).

"The production of penicillin in wartime China and Sino-American definitions of 'normal' microbiology." Journal of Modern Chinese History 13, no. 1 (2019): 102–123. Part of a special issue edited by Hans Van de Ven, entitled "Wartime Everydayness in China during the Second World War."

"Engineering Health: Technologies of Immunization in China's Wartime Hinterland, 1937–45." Technology and Culture 60, no. 2 (April 2019): 409–37. This article received the Zhu Kezhen Senior Award from the International Society for the History of East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine in 2019.

"Danger in the Air: Tuberculosis Control and BCG Vaccination in the Republic of China, 1930–1949." Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review 8, no. 1 (May 2019).

"Frontiers of Immunology: Medical Migrations to Yunnan, Vaccine Research, and Public Health during the War with Japan, 1937–1949." In China and the Globalization of Biomedicine, edited by David Luesink, Zhang Daqing, and William Schneider. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2019.

"Western Medical Education on Trial: The Endurance of Peking Union Medical College, 1949–1960", Twentieth-Century China 40 (2015): 126–145.

Chinese translation: "放归国有之后的北京协和医学院," in 《协和百年纪念文集》(The Legacy of PUMC: Centennial Essays), ed. Jiang Yuhong 蒋育红 and Mary Brown Bullock, 326-41. Beijing: Zhongguo xiehe yike daxue chubanshe, 2017.

Book reviews

Review of Statistics and the Language of Global Health: Institutions and Experts in China, Taiwan and the World, 1917–1960 by Yi-Tang Lin, Social History of Medicine, 2023.

Review of Knowledge Production in Mao-Era China: Learning from the Masses by Rui Kunze and Marc MattenEast Asian Science, Technology and Medicine, 2023.

Review of The People's Health: Health Intervention and Delivery in Mao's China, 1949-1983 by Zhou Xun, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 77, no. 4 (2022): 487-9.

Review of Virulent Zones: Animal Disease and Global Health at China's Pandemic Epicenter by Lyle FearnleyJournal of Asian Studies 81, no. 1 (2022): 260-61.

Review of Public Health and the Modernization of China, 1865–2015 by Bu Liping, Social History of Medicine 32, no. 2 (2019): 423-4.

Review of Red Revolution, Green Revolution: Scientific Farming in Socialist China by Sigrid Schmalzer, Journal of Asian Studies 76, no. 4 (2017): 4–5.

Review of Historical Epistemology and the Making of Modern Chinese Medicine edited by Howard Chiang, Isis 107, no. 4 (2016): 819–20.

Review of Farewell to the God of Plague: Chairman Mao's Campaign to Deworm China by Miriam Gross, East Asian Science, Technology, and Society 10 (2016): 1–4.

Review of Saving Lives in Wartime China: How Medical Reformers Built Modern Healthcare Systems Amid War and Epidemics, 1928–1945 by John Robertson Watt, Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity 8 (2015): 491–493.

Review of Barefoot Doctors and Western Medicine in China by Fang Xiaoping, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 69 (2014): 343–345.



Panelist for Roundtable on Technology and Innovation, WHO-Western Pacific Region Health Futures Forum, 24 August 2021.

Panelist for "Doing Chinese History in a New Era" series session on "Academic Jobs Outside the U.S.," 12 August 2021.

Appearance on The Forum (BBC World Service), "Alexandre Yersin and the race to fight the plague," 7 January 2021.

Interview on Mass Vaccination and Covid-19 with Micah Muscolino in "China Throughlines" series, UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy, 1 September 2020.

Interview on Mass Vaccination with Victoria Oana Lupascu, New Books Network, 31 August 2020.

Interview with Babak Ashrafi in "Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic" series, Consortium for History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, recorded 10 June 2020.

"Preventing epidemics in twentieth-century China" (English version) /《人与动物:20世纪中国传染病防治史的启示》 (中文版本), Chinadialogue, 18 May 2020.

"Epidemic control in Chinese public health: Past and present", History and Policy, 31 March 2020.

"Developing the first smallpox vaccine", interview with The Naked Scientists podcast, 21 May 2019.

Recording of "Negotiating Immunity: Mass Vaccination in Modern China and East Asia, 1945–75," talk at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine's Centre for History in Public Health, 22 August 2017.

"Beyond Brainwashing: Propaganda, Public Health, and Chinese Allegations of Germ Warfare in Manchuria", post on Hidden Persuaders Project, Birkbeck, University of London, 21 November 2016.


Takes PhD students