skip to primary navigationskip to content
 

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, psychometrics, policy and social engineering, John Stuart Mill)
  • Topics in ethics and political philosophy (well-being, happiness, paternalism)
  • Topics in recent history of social science

Dissertations previously supervised by Anna Alexandrova

  • Idealisation, capacities and explanation
  • More models, more problems? Philosophical accounts of the use of mutually inconsistent models in science
  • Explanation and idealisation: difference-makers, fictionalisers and compatibility
  • Weighing the world: cost-benefit analyses of the sustainable development goals
  • Why we respect institutions: an evolutionary perspective
  • The relevance of behavioural experiments in political philosophy: Henrich et al.'s cross-cultural studies and idealism in normative theories
  • Open formulae and modelling diagnostics: a general framework for the use of models in experiment design and explanation in economics
  • Standpoint feminist epistemology: the challenge of race and black feminist thought
  • Pragmatism in psychiatric nosology: towards a greater focus on the practical impacts of diagnostic categories
  • The ethics of moral bioenhancement
  • Just health, just justice, or neither? Motivating a feminist approach to end of life care
  • Epistemic egalitarianism and the epistemically just role of experts in democracy

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

Dissertations previously supervised by Mary Augusta Brazelton

  • India's polio-free status: a case study in global health politics
  • Joseph Needham and allegations of biological warfare in the Korean War, 1951–3
  • 'To serve the people': Chinese medical diplomacy in Africa during the Cold War
  • Sugar imperialism in the late Qing: Jardine Matheson and the China Sugar Refining Company, 1867–1928

Hasok Chang

On leave in 2019–20

Helen Curry

On leave in 2019–20

Marta Halina

On leave in Michaelmas Term 2019

  • Philosophy of cognitive science (psychology, neuroscience, animal cognition, artificial intelligence)
  • Philosophy of biology (model organisms, mechanisms, comparative methods)
  • General philosophy of science (evidence, explanation, models, science and values)

Dissertations previously supervised by Marta Halina

  • Diagnosing anxiety disorder: the idiosyncratic practice of a standardized procedure
  • Progress in psychopathology, step-by-step: ousting a Kuhnian imperative by prescribing epistemic iteration
  • Fear of mice: the case for animal emotions in comparative neuroscience
  • Anthropocentrism and self-awareness
  • Entanglement of explanation and prediction in organic chemistry reaction mechanisms
  • The paradigm of neurodiversity and understanding 'brain difference' in autism

Nick Hopwood

History of medicine and biology since 1800, especially in German-speaking Europe, 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

Dissertations previously supervised by Nick Hopwood

  • Animals in the diagnostic laboratory: the rise and fall of living pregnancy tests in Britain and beyond, 1929–1964
  • Researching the brain: the Corsellis collection at Runwell Hospital in the 1950s
  • 'The London/Baltimore link has been severed': the economies of human gene mapping and mainframe computing at the Moore Clinic, 1955–1973
  • 3/4D foetal imaging and abortion in the British media, 2003–2007
  • Feminist activism and the British controversy over the injectable contraceptive Depo-Provera 1970–1985
  • Elimination of surplus cockerels: applying and communicating early Cambridge genetics
  • Rhetorics of rarity in the promises and projects of American genomics, 1990–2016
  • 'Mothers and babies with real problems': defining complicated pregnancies in 1950s to 1980s Britain
  • The visibility of male 'sterility' in British medicine, 1870–1930
  • Reframing 'reform' eugenics: the 1936 depopulation panic and the shifting policies of the British Eugenics Society
  • Building a new consensus of care before birth: addressing perinatal mortality and handicap crisis in Thatcher's Britain
  • Reconstituting difference: the National Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis and the campaign to eradicate tuberculosis in Britain, 1950–1965

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)

Dissertations previously supervised by Stephen John

  • Close enough to sufficiency: justifying a limited role for cost-effectiveness analysis in health policy
  • Scientific malpractice at the communication stage – legal and philosophical issues
  • Objectivity and value-free science
  • The sporting body and stories of exclusion: doping and disability
  • An ex ante contractualist approach to Rose's prevention paradox: risk thresholds for cancer screening programmes as a case study
  • Delegating diagnosis to computers: IBM's Watson and the 'responsibility gap'
  • The problem of publication management: is Big Pharma undermining the system of biomedical research publication?
  • Algorithmic profiling of humans: on reassessing Hacking's indifferent and interactive kinds
  • Social epistemology meets science policy: a model driven proposal to test science funding strategies
  • Bridging the 'normative gap': mechanism design and social justice
  • Science and expertise versus the public – a case study and reflections on the case of government nutrition advice
  • Should the MMR vaccine be mandatory?

Lauren Kassell

On leave in Lent and Easter Terms 2020

  • History of medicine, especially but not exclusively gender, generation, patient-practitioner encounters, cases and observations
  • Histories of alchemy, astrology, magic and witchcraft
  • Histories of books, readers and information
  • Digital humanities

Dissertations previously supervised by Lauren Kassell

  • Finding the edge of life: cases and observations on life, death and drowning, 1744–1800
  • Constructing bodies: a discussion of anatomical teaching in early modern medical education
  • Causes of death and conditions for knowledge: reading the body at the intersection of law, medicine and natural philosophy in 17th-century legal trials
  • The doctrine of critical days: astrological medicine in 17th-century England
  • Sensible touch: pulse taking, manual knowledge and learned authority in English medicine, c.1650–c.1700

Tim Lewens

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

Dissertations previously supervised by Tim Lewens

  • Biological altruism revisited
  • Can and should moral realism survive evolutionary ethics?
  • Individuality in the lab and in the field: an updated account of Thomas Pradeu's continuity theory of immunology
  • Evolution, morality and the genesis of moral judgement
  • Functions, genes and the ENCODE controversy
  • The meeting of medical minds and mental machines: a primer on the new philosophy of clinical expert systems
  • On the causal interpretation of the Price equation in cultural evolutionary theory
  • Neo-Aristotelian approaches to normativity
  • Divergence of opinion in the risk policy discourse; cognitive errors and cultural value differences
  • Evolution, moral realism and vindication
  • Homeric eliminativism
  • Scrutinising notions of public knowledge: epistemological, normative and genealogical

Dániel Margócsy

  • History of early modern science and technology
  • History of early modern medicine
  • The global history of science
  • Commerce and science
  • The history of the book
  • Visual studies of science

Dissertations previously supervised by Dániel Margócsy

  • Experience and wound care in late medieval English surgery, 1300–1500
  • Great apes and the role of observation in the 18th century
  • Materials of exchange: state knowledge, natural history, and the use of barrels in transporting specimens in early modern England
  • Catching colds in 17th and 18th century Britain: humourism, anatomy and everyday life
  • Dealing arms and making knowledge: the work of Cornelis Drebbel and maritime grand strategy in the 17th century
  • Of mammoths and men: contextual understandings of species extinction in the Age of Revolution
  • Sleep: its manipulation in the early modern period
  • Polar visuality: the expedition art of Captain John Ross
  • Red is the new blue: synthetic dyes in Yoshitoshi's prints

Staffan Müller-Wille

Joining the Department in January 2020

  • History and philosophy of natural history, systematics and taxonomy
  • History and philosophy of heredity, evolution and genetics
  • History and philosophy of anthropology, statistics and race
  • History of collecting and information processing in the early modern and modern earth, life and human sciences
  • Philosophy of biology (gene concept, species concept, experimentation, evolution)

Simon Schaffer

On leave in Michaelmas Term 2019

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

Dissertations previously supervised by Simon Schaffer

  • The making of the Scottish mechanics' class: reinterpreting the Mechanics' Institutes
  • Observatories, data and cosmological conflict in public controversy over the Thirty Meter Telescope
  • Lineages of the company state: genealogical reasoning in William Jones' colonial sciences
  • Science at the Cape: Andrew Smith, the institutionalisation of science, and the South African Quarterly Journal
  • A new and curious treatise upon the paradoxical proclivities of Dr James Graham: or, immortality and orgasm in the Age of Enlightenment
  • The Balfour Laboratory: a case study in gender, space and science in late-19th and early-20th century Britain
  • An improbable tale? The development of Owens College from upstart institution to world-class research university, 1851–1910
  • English manuscripts on shipbuilding, 1570–1640
  • Storied maps: narratives of progress in the surveys of Colin Mackenzie, Francis Buchanan and William Lambton in early 19th-century Mysore
  • The network ethic in synthetic biology
  • 'An attempt to trace illusions to their physical causes': atmospheric mirages and the performance of their demystification in the 1830s
  • 'With maps illustrative of the disease': medical cartography in late 19th-century colonial India

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

Dissertations previously supervised by Jim Secord

  • The races of cattle: acclimatization and classification between India and Britain
  • The constituency of reason: Michael Foster and science in parliamentary politics
  • Riding the Iguanodon to immortality: discovery in 19th-century geology
  • The rhetoric, media and literary culture of late 19th-century anti-vaccination campaign periodicals and publications
  • Michael Angelo Garvey's 'Silent Revolution': technology, education and the future from the post-1848 'moment'
  • Lost world fiction and the domestication of the dinosaur, 1880–1914
  • Thomas Carlyle and the 'hero as "man of science"' in the mechanical age
  • Looking up at the falling stars of 1866
  • 'The poetical character [...] is not itself – it has no self – it is everything and nothing – it has no character' (John Keats): science, poetry and poems in the writing of Humphry Davy

Richard Staley

On leave in Easter Term 2020

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
  • Artificial intelligence

Dissertations previously supervised by Richard Staley

  • Building around a black hole: materiality and embodiment in visual representations of black holes, c.1965–2017
  • Precision measurement in the French metric reform: a study of Borda's repeating circle
  • Forecasting doom: scientific prophets, the emotional regime of science, and the accommodated uncertainty of United States congressional testimony, 1963–88
  • Polar bear science and climate change denial: insights from a representational analysis of scientific, popular scientific, and online media
  • Interacting fields: Kenneth Wilson and American theoretical physics, 1970–80
  • Wind turbines in conceptual disrepair
  • The Anthropocene: multiple meanings of the newest geological epoch
  • Clothes make people, the stool makes the leader: the story of a Kom throne and its journey to Germany
  • Rethinking the future: a new development in the history of IPCC climate change scenarios
  • The diplomatic-scientific structure of the Pugwash conferences on science and world affairs in the period 1979–1985
  • Overlapping peaks: the making of analytical chromatography
  • Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse and the 'America First Energy Plan'

Jacob Stegenga

  • Philosophy of science: evidence, confirmation, explanation, causation, theory choice, formal methods, rationality, values in science
  • Philosophy of biology: evolutionary theory, units of selection, emergence
  • Philosophy of medicine: research methods, health and disease, psychiatry
  • Formal methods: confirmation theory, probability and statistics, social choice theory, Bayesianism
  • Sciences of sexual desire: evolutionary psychology, human nature, the concept of sexual desire, values in science, disorders of sexual desire

Dissertations previously supervised by Jacob Stegenga

  • The role of a feminist critique in scientific and medical approaches to menstruation
  • Is the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale a good measuring instrument for research into depressive disorders?
  • Making causal inferences in medicine: statistical vs. mechanistic approaches
  • The use of mechanistic evidence for causal inference in biomedicine
  • 'Feminist Angst': defending a place for gender in sex-based medicine
  • Mechanism 'completeness' and the problem of extrapolation
  • On medicalization and disease
  • The rationality of alternative medicine
  • On cultural explanation

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

Dissertations previously supervised by Liba Taub

  • Tycho Brahe's architectural images of his observatories on the island of Hven
  • 'Materials for a history of science in Cambridge': meanings of collections in the 1944 scientific instrument exhibition at the University of Cambridge
  • Reconsidering the pseudo-Aristotelian Problems
  • Astrolabes in context: a reappraisal of medieval astronomical instruments
  • An early 19th-century 'museum microscope' and cultures of collecting
  • Natural history of sale: Maison Deyrolle and its role in the 19th-century natural history community
  • Pedagogy and translation of didactic verse in scientific/medical texts to and from the Islamicate world (9th–12th century)
  • A Korean astronomical screen at the Whipple Museum: parsing a composite cosmography
  • Physics demonstration apparatus in textbooks and trade literature
  • Making scientific women: practical chemistry instruction for women at Cambridge, 1890–1916
  • 'The knowledge of antiquity and the pursuit of new discoveries' in Edward Sherburne's The Sphere of Marcus Manilius Made an English Poem: with Annotations and an Astronomical Appendix (1675)

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

Dissertations previously supervised by Salim Al-Gailani

  • 'Ritualistic comforting hand' or 'crass dissimulation'? The 'slow code' in historical and sociological perspective
  • 'Anorexia nervosa', gender and the diagnosis of female mental illness in late-Victorian medicine
  • 'We are strangers in a strange land': fathers in the National Childbirth Trust
  • Beyond the first breath: hyaline membrane disease and the construction of the neonatal patient in the United States, 1959–75
  • Eugenic discourses in medical officer health reports in interwar England
  • Immoral sex and irresponsible contraception: emergency hormonal contraception in Britain and its contested transition to an over-the-counter drug
  • The language of artificial insemination in Britain, 1930–1959
  • Screening for syphilis: how blood syphilis tests became routine in antenatal care, 1906–1960
  • 'This formidable foe now has a conqueror': patent health advertising in British Guiana, 1880–1920

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

Dissertations previously supervised by Leah Astbury

  • 'Prescribd to her and prayd with her': the care and experiences of sick children in the 18th century

Shahar Avin

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

Dissertations previously supervised by Shahar Avin

  • Reconsidering speculation: charting the permissible use of speculative ethics as a preparatory tool for considering future developments in science and technology
  • Social epistemology meets science policy: a model driven proposal to test science funding strategies

Jenny Bangham

Histories of 20th-century biomedicine and human sciences, especially:

  • Genetics and genomics
  • Anthropology and race science
  • Laboratory biology, evolutionary biology
  • Popular science and scientific internationalism

Dissertations previously supervised by Jenny Bangham

  • Films and blood donation publicity in mid-20th century Britain

Debby Banham

  • Early medieval medicine and related subjects
  • Intellectual and cultural history of early medieval England
  • Medieval Latin texts and language
  • Medieval manuscripts
  • Monastic sign language

Riana Betzler

  • Philosophy of psychology and cognitive science
  • Philosophy of biology
  • Philosophy of medicine (especially psychiatry)
  • General philosophy of science (especially values in science, feminist philosophy of science, natural kinds and classification)

Dissertations previously supervised by Riana Betzler

  • Dementia: how changing perspectives affect clinical decision making
  • Understanding the objectivity of methodologically sound research sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry
  • Pluralism and practice in the metaphysics of gender
  • 'Soul-crushing wrong choice': moral injury and the ethics of war
  • 'Stop Googling this disease': digital age challenges and empathic solutions for the physician-patient relationship

Agnes Bolinska

  • General philosophy of science (especially scientific representation, abstraction and idealization, modelling, simulation, pluralism)
  • History and philosophy of 20th-century molecular biology
  • Philosophy of cognitive science (especially emotion, belief, concepts)
  • Philosophy of medicine
  • Biomedical ethics
  • Relationship between history of science and philosophy of science

Dissertations previously supervised by Agnes Bolinska

  • Evidence for existential risk: identifying effective and appropriate sources of evidence for the analysis of uncertain, low-probability, high-impact risks
  • Pragmatic realism and quantum mechanics
  • The necessity of understanding to the philosophy of physics: a critique of the objectivist facticity view of physics
  • Are global health inequalities unjust?

Ali Boyle

  • Philosophy of cognitive science (especially animal cognition and memory)
  • Philosophy of mind
  • Metaphysics of biology

Federico Brandmayr

  • Philosophy of the social sciences
  • Science and politics
  • Science and the law
  • Science communication
  • Scientists as experts and public intellectuals
  • Social history of the social sciences
  • Sociology of scientific knowledge

Andrew Buskell

On leave in Lent Term 2020

  • Philosophy of biology
  • Philosophy of psychology and cognitive science
  • Philosophy of social science
  • General topics in the philosophy of science

Dissertations previously supervised by Andrew Buskell

  • A pluralistic concept of computation for cognitive science
  • Two theories of mind: defending plurality in accounts of mentalization

Jeremy Butterfield

  • Philosophy of physics

Dissertations previously supervised by Jeremy Butterfield

  • Defining complexity: a case for a definition by entropy development
  • Interpreting the Wigner-Eckart theorem
  • Wavefunction ontology and Koopman-von Neumann theory
  • Putting theory in its place: the relationship between universality arguments and empirical constraints
  • A physicalist perspective on higher-level laws

Robbie Duschinsky

On leave in Michaelmas Term 2019

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

Seb Falk

Medieval sciences, especially:

  • Medieval astronomy/astrology and mathematical sciences
  • Scientific instruments
  • Manuscripts, texts, diagrams and tables
  • Sciences in medieval literature, culture and religion; monasteries and universities
  • Reception of Greek and Arabic sciences in Christian Europe

Matt Farr

  • Metaphysics of science (especially time, causation, modality)
  • Philosophy of physics (especially causality in physics)
  • General philosophy of science (especially explanation and laws of nature)
  • Philosophy of cognitive science (especially time perception and agency)

Dissertations previously supervised by Matt Farr

  • Does quantum mechanics need interpretation? A pragmatic view of interpretations
  • What problems does quantum mechanics pose for scientific realism?
  • Do films do philosophy? AI in the movies
  • Realism and string theoretic dualities
  • Chomsky's historical criticism of physicalism: motivations, historical accuracy and philosophical prospects
  • The minds behind the madness: analysing the many minds interpretation of quantum mechanics
  • The philosophical uncertainty of the quantum vacuum: are quantum vacuum fluctuations 'creatio ex nihilo'?

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

Dissertations previously supervised by Marina Frasca-Spada

  • Interpreting Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
  • Kant's Second Analogy and Newtonian physics
  • The 'I' in language: from Descartes to Herder

Jessica Hamel-Akré

History and philosophy of early modern and 18th-century medicine; gender and food abstinence:

  • Social history of 18th-century medicine
  • Medicine and literature (medical popularization and authority, letter writing, fiction, medical storytelling and folklore)
  • Gender, body history and women's health before the 1800s
  • Early modern science and religion (especially medical-religious collaborations, as well as medical conflicts with spiritual and supernatural knowledges of the body)
  • Philosophy of diet and appetite control, history of eating disorders and female fasting

Dissertations previously supervised by Jessica Hamel-Akré

  • 'A disease called the suffocation of the mother'

Milena Ivanova

  • Philosophy of science (scientific realism/instrumentalism, underdetermination and theory choice, values in scientific practice)
  • Aesthetics in science (beauty and sublime in science, aesthetic values in discovery and justification)
  • History of philosophy of science (Pierre Duhem, Henri Poincare, Ernst Mach)
  • The status of scientific principles (synthetic a priori, relativized and pragmatic conceptions of a priorisity in science)

Boris Jardine

  • Scientific instruments (the instrument trade; early-modern mathematical instruments; history of the microscope)
  • The material culture of science (including scientific architecture)
  • 'Paper tools' and the scientific book
  • History of scientific collections
  • The history of modern Cambridge science (scientific sites and buildings; the rise of laboratory science; Cambridge collections)
  • Science and politics (science and left-wing politics; science and utopia; science and modernism)

Dissertations previously supervised by Boris Jardine

  • Skins, skeletons, show-cases and the science of life: organising Cambridge's bird room at the turn of the 20th century
  • Characterising collections: on the preservation of old scientific apparatus at the Cavendish Laboratory and the Whipple Museum, Cambridge

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

Dissertations previously supervised by Nick Jardine

  • Rethinking the legacy of J.H. Woodger
  • What's in a name? Hereos and visions in Amazonian ethnobotany
  • Does commitment to aesthetic criteria for theory selection undermine the rationalist picture of scientific practice?
  • Totalising Galvanism: J.W. Ritter and F.W. Schelling's Romantic dialogue on the role of the individual phenomenon within a holistic
  • An educative discipline: Herbert Butterfield, The Origins of Modern Science and the permeability of disciplinary boundaries in Cambridge HPS, 1945–1965
  • Kant and Hume on the external world – the refutation of idealism: how far is Kant's answer satisfactory to the sceptic?
  • Ex epistulis Philippinensibus: Georg Joseph Kamel SJ (1661–1706) and his correspondence network
  • Naturgeschichte, Naturbeschreibung and the purposiveness of nature in Kant's critical and precritical writings
  • C.S. Lewis, science and society

Peter Jones

  • History of medieval medicine and surgery
  • Medieval manuscripts and early printed books
  • Visualisation in medicine and science before 1600
  • Medicinal alchemy in the Middle Ages

Melanie Keene

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

Dissertations previously supervised by Melanie Keene

  • Negretti & Zambra's scientific instruments: a new dimension to the Victorian culture of travel
  • How British children's conceptions of science changed throughout the 19th century, examined through a comparative analysis of early and late century periodicals
  • Literature and medicine: Sinclair Lewis's Arrowsmith (1925) as mirror, spotlight, beacon

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

Dissertations previously supervised by Sachiko Kusukawa

  • 'Materia Vitraria' from Hartlib to Sloane: deconstructing glass and building up shards at the early Royal Society

Yang Liu

  • Logic
  • Foundations of probability
  • Mathematical and philosophical decision theory
  • Philosophy of artificial intelligence

Richard McKay

Histories of medicine, public health and sexuality since 1900, especially in North America, with a particular interest in:

  • Venereal disease / sexually transmitted infections
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Epidemiology and socio-cultural responses to epidemics
  • Visual communication of science and medicine

Dissertations previously supervised by Richard McKay

  • Public resistance to polio vaccination in Northern Nigeria
  • The prevention of malaria in colonial Sierra Leone
  • Should the oral polio vaccine theory of the origin of AIDS be considered 'refuted'?
  • 'Jazz, single-use syringes and AIDS' – representations of HIV/AIDS in Literaturnaya Gazeta in the late 1980s
  • Conflicts between indigenous healing and biomedicine: self-determination in health care and Canada's Indian Health Transfer Policy
  • Tensions in prevention: a history of PrEP in the United States
  • Reparative therapy for 'ego-dystonic homosexuality' in the late 20th century

Joshua Nall

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

  • Scientific instruments and models in the modern physical sciences
  • Astronomy in the British empire
  • Astrophysics and astrobiology, 1860–1920
  • Museums, exhibitions and expositions in the fin de siècle
  • Popular science, media networks, scientific journalism, 1860–1920

Dissertations previously supervised by Joshua Nall

  • Robert S. Whipple as collector, donor and historian (1871–1953)
  • Models of authority: the place of geological models in the visual language of geology
  • Early 20th-century debates over life on Mars and their impact on the 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast incident
  • Abandoned cases: the end of solar eclipse expeditions from the University of Cambridge and other British institutions

Rune Nyrup

  • General philosophy of science (especially explanatory reasoning/abduction, analogies, hypothesis generation, context of pursuit, context of discovery, values in science)
  • Scientific realism (including perspectivism, pragmatism, pluralism)
  • Philosophy of archaeology
  • Medical diagnosis
  • Ethics of artificial intelligence
  • Computer ethics

Dissertations previously supervised by Rune Nyrup

  • The significance of science and human flourishing: a humanitarian solution to the problem of scientific significance
  • What's in the box? Understanding as a novel desideratum from black-box machine-learning algorithms

Brian Pitts

  • General philosophy of science, including realism and confirmation
  • History and philosophy of physics

Carolin Schmitz

On leave in 2019–20

Anne Secord

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

Dissertations previously supervised by Anne Secord

  • Erasmus Wilson's investigations of 19th-century skin
  • Birds of paradise and collecting Eden
  • Corresponding conviction: the establishment of authority in the letters of James Croll
  • Hooker and the Himalayas

Mark Tonelli

  • General philosophy of medicine
  • Medical epistemology
  • Evidence-based medicine
  • Case-based reasoning
  • Clinical decision making

Karina Vold

  • Philosophy of mind and cognitive science: situated cognition (embodied, embedded, enactive, extended views); artificial intelligence (AI); functionalism; cognitive enhancement
  • Applied ethics: neuroethics; ethics of AI; moral psychology
  • Philosophy of technology: digital technologies, AI, human-computer interaction, ethical and social aspects of technology

Dissertations previously supervised by Karina Vold

  • Double trouble through the looking glass: reflecting on the logic in philosophical inconsistency
  • Standing states, natural kinds, and the extended mind
  • Degrees of freedom in carving psychiatric nature at the joints

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

Dissertations previously supervised by Paul White

  • Hunters and gentlemen: the naturalist explorers Alfred Russel Wallace and Paul Du Chaillu
  • Biography and the mid-Victorian science of character
  • A space for dying: an exploration into the design of St Christopher's Hospice, Sydenham, and the spaces it created
  • Contested boundaries: physiology's internal milieu and the debates over vivisection and vaccination in late Victorian Britain
  • Isaac Van Amburgh 'the brute tamer': spectacle, education and natural history in Britain, 1825–72
  • Darwin's flowers and Wallace's butterflies in the history of polymorphism

Daniel Wilson

History of science and technology from c.1820 to the present:

  • Politics and critiques of technology
  • Sociology of science and technology
  • Digital technologies, cybernetics, AI
  • Science and technology in modern culture
  • Histories of statistics, number, risk and finance
  • Machines and political economy
  • Sciences of climate change and environmental history
  • Science and democracy

Rosie Worsdale

  • Feminist philosophy of science, especially the social sciences (standpoint epistemology, critiques of objectivity, values in science, methods and methodologies in gender research)
  • The social and historical construction of identity categories (especially as relating to race, gender, sexuality, disability) and their relation to biological categories
  • The history of critical social theory (Foucault, Bourdieu, the Frankfurt School) and its relation to the social sciences