skip to content

Department of History and Philosophy of Science


Affiliated Researcher

Edwin Rose completed his PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science Department at the University of Cambridge in 2020 with a thesis entitled 'Managing Nature in the Age of Enlightenment: The Practice of Natural History in Britain, 1760–1820'. Concentrating on the collections assembled by Joseph Banks (1743–1820), Thomas Pennant (1726–98) and Gilbert White (1722–93) this research examines contemporary practices of managing information, surveying naturalists' approaches to collecting on expeditions; the use of natural history collections to produce publications and the use of these to generate natural knowledge on a global scale. This has allowed for a wide survey of different processes of knowledge production across the British empire, encompassing events ranging from James Cook's Pacific voyages and the Macartney Embassy to China through to the construction and distribution of important printed books on the flora of the South Seas, Pennant's British Zoology and White’s Natural History of Selborne (1789).

Current Project (2021–22): The Darwin Family and Cambridge: Science, Art and Nature, 1750–1964

This one-year position is designed to undertake archival research on the Darwin family's relationship with Cambridge from the time of Erasmus Darwin in the 1750s until the 1960s when Newnham Grange, a property purchased by George Howard Darwin in 1885, became Darwin College. The research is designed to lay the foundations for a permanent exhibition space at Darwin College, Cambridge, containing displays designed to emphasise the collaborative nature of science, examining diverse global networks while addressing important topics such as empire, race and gender. Several public events have been organised alongside this project and will be advertised on the Darwin College website.

Previous Project (2020–21): Empire, Nature and the Book in Eighteenth-Century Cambridge (2021–22)
Munby Fellow, Cambridge University Library, Research Fellow, Darwin College Cambridge

Edwin's project as Munby Fellow, a postdoctoral position offered by Cambridge University Library, undertook the first systematic study of the Cambridge Botanic Garden's imperial networks. Examining annotated books, manuscripts and surviving specimens now held by Cambridge University Library and Cambridge University Herbarium, the analysis has shown how eighteenth-century universities became important agents of empire, combining imperial projects with theological and economic purpose. This is reflected through the design of the Cambridge Botanic Garden and the correspondence network maintained by Thomas Martyn (1735–1825), the third professor of botany, intertwining the emergence of the life sciences in Cambridge with far flung colonial knowledge transfer systems, networks of global trade, enslaved peoples, and specimen exchange.


2021. PhD, History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge

2016. MPhil, History, Philosophy and Sociology of Science Technology and Medicine, University of Cambridge.


edr24 [at]

Other Websites:;

Twitter: @Edwinrose3


Key Publications

Peer Reviewed Articles

'Publishing Nature in an Age of Revolutions: Joseph Banks, Georg Forster and the Plants of the Pacific', Historical Journal (published online 14 April, 2020).

'From the South Seas to Soho Square: Joseph Banks's Library, Collection and Kingdom of Natural History', Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science, 73:4 (2019), pp.499-526. (Part of a special issue entitled 'Rethinking Joseph Banks').

'Gilbert White, John Ray and the Construction of the Natural History of Selborne', Archives of Natural History 46.1 (2019), pp. 105-112.

'Lives and Afterlives of the Lithophylacii Britannici ichnographia (1699), the First Illustrated Field Guide to English Fossils', Nuncius: Journal of the Material and Visual History of Science, 33 (2018), pp. 505-536 (co-authored with Prof. Anna Marie Roos).

'Specimens, Slips and Systems: Daniel Solander and the classification of nature at the world's first public museum, 1753-1768', The British Journal for the History of Science, 52: 2 (2018), pp. 205-237.

'Natural history collections and the book: Hans Sloane's A Voyage to Jamaica (1707-25) and his Jamaican plants', Journal of the History of Collections, 30: 1 (2018), pp. 15-33.


'Cook's Voyages to the Pacific after 250 years. Exhibition review of James Cook: The Voyages, at the British Library, London, April-August 2018. British Library, London', Endeavour, 42 (2018), pp. 204–205.

'James Delbourgo, Collecting the World: The Life and Curiosity of Hans Sloane (London: Allen Lane, 2017)', The British Journal for the History of Science, 50 (2017), pp. 731–732.

Exhibitions, Talks and Public Engagement (selected)

'The Darwin Family and Cambridge: Preliminary Research Scoping', The Darwinian Alumni Newsletter, February 2021.

'John Martyn's Network of Nature', PuLSe, Linnean Society Quarterly Magazine, July 2021 (co-authored with Dr Lauren M. Gardiner), pp. 6–8.

'Botany in 18th-Century Cambridge: A First Look Inside the Martyn Collection', recorded talk and show and tell of original materials, with Lauren M. Gardiner (Cambridge University Herbarium), 31 March 2020.

'The Roots of Disorder: Botany Became an Unlikely Battlefield in the Age of Revolution', History Today, 70:6 (2020), pp. 70–83.

Podcast: 'Pacific Exploration, Botany, and Revolution' for Time to Eat the Dogs: A Podcast About Science, History and Exploration. Interviewed by Michael Robinson (University of Hertford, CN.), 5 May 2020.

'Applying Structure to the South Sea: Joseph Banks, Daniel Solander and the Practice of Natural History on the Endeavour Voyage to the Pacific, 1768-1771', Encounters and Exchanges Conference, University of Otago, New Zealand, 3 December 2019.

Blog Post for Cambridge University Library: 'Before Endeavour: Joseph Banks and his travels in England and Wales', Cambridge University Library Special Collections Blog, 22 February, 2019.

'An age of Discoveries: 250 Years since the Endeavour Voyage to the Pacific', Cambridge University Library, Cambridge, 28 August - 29 September 2018.

'From Specimen to Print: Constructing and Publishing Thomas Pennant's British Zoology, 1766–1812', Linnean Society of London, 16 November 2018.

'Publishing, Printing and Circulating Books Across the Botanical World of Joseph Banks', History of Science Society Annual Conference, Seattle, 3 November 2018.

Other Professional Affiliations and Activities (selected)

Visiting Fellow at Yale University's Lewis Walpole Library (delayed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic).

Fellow of the Linnean Society of London (elected January 2021).

Member of the Royal Historical Society (elected in July 2019).

Visiting Fellow, Harvard University History of Science Department, October 2018.

Affiliate of the Natural History Museum, London, 2016–2020.

Convener for the Cabinet of Natural History Research Seminar, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, 2016–2017.