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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


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.

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Teaching Officers

Anna Alexandrova

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

Dissertations previously supervised by Anna Alexandrova

  • 'Why can the ring only be destroyed in Mordor?': understanding, fiction and the magic of explanation
  • The case of menopause in killer whales: feminist epistemology in evolutionary biology and marine mammal science
  • Well-ordered science and the politics of life extension
  • Dying for medicine: AIDS, trust and America's changing ethics of zidovudine provision from 1987 to 2003
  • Flattening the Earth: coordinating measurements of polar flattening in 19th-century geodesy
  • Uncovering the relationship between the individual and the community in knowledge production: improving feminist empiricism with formal social epistemic modelling techniques
  • What is feminist science?
  • 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

Mary Augusta Brazelton

On leave in Michaelmas Term 2021

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

  • 'Science as a diplomatic weapon': scientific freedoms in Sino-British exchanges, 1961–1966
  • Economy in the time of rinderpest: prevention of cattle plague in early 20th-century China (1868–1935)
  • To your health! Consumption of alcohol as a health-seeking behaviour in early Soviet Russia, 1921–1945
  • A lack of supervision: promoting autonomy at the periphery in 'Where There is No Doctor' and the legacy of 1980s national community health worker programs
  • Investigating the impact of the 2000 House of Lords Select Committee report on the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the UK
  • The Promising Families Survey: a eugenic project through the lens of biological citizenship
  • Agriculture in Chinese promotional material and propaganda, 1949–59
  • 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

  • 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

Dissertations previously supervised by Hasok Chang

  • Visualising hyperbolic geometry: finding an intuitive understanding of non-Euclidean space
  • Technology in scientific practice: how H.J. Muller used the fruit fly to investigate the x-ray machine
  • Meaning, madness and methodology: revisiting Karl Jaspers on the incomprehensibility of delusions
  • Can embedded philosophers of science be experimentalists? The case of giant viruses
  • When diversity promotes excellence: a New Experimentalist approach to organising diverse communities
  • Towards a feminist perspectivism: bringing feminist standpoint theory into the mainstream
  • 'Put-up-or-shut-up' or 'shut up about putting-up'? Redressing power imbalances in the contingentism-inevitabilism debate
  • Thomas Kuhn's plurality of worlds: reconsidering the linguistic turn
  • Computational science: moving towards scientific unity
  • Causal powers and the scientific image
  • Manipulation of the electron: Gilbert Lewis and Robert Robinson
  • How useful can a general theory of evidence be?

Helen Curry

Histories of science and technology in the 20th and 21st century, including:

  • Biology and biotechnology
  • Ecology, environmental science and environmentalism
  • Food and agriculture
  • Technology and industry
  • Science and activism
  • Amateur or citizen science

Dissertations previously supervised by Helen Curry

  • Glimpsing another world: indigenous and local knowledges in the World People's Conference on Climate Change
  • The IAEA and the use of nuclear technologies in agriculture in developing countries: 1957–1989
  • The history of Choosing Health: the public health response to the childhood obesity epidemic under New Labour at the turn of the 21st century
  • Watt makes a utopia? Staging domestic electricity in interwar Britain
  • Found land or made land? Indigenous cultivation and the politics of conservation in the Pacific Northwest of North America, 1778–2017
  • Flying high: International Agricultural Aviation Centre and the promotion of aeroplanes in agriculture, 1959–1975
  • Of microbes and men: changing scientific perceptions of life in the soil
  • Waiting for midnight: risk, authority and the Doomsday Clock
  • In pursuit of plesiosaurs: Sir Peter Scott, conservation, and the Loch Ness investigation, 1960–1975
  • Pest problems with radical solutions: radicalism and entomology in 1970s America
  • Visions of American agriculture: the rise, fall and rise of algae biofuel research, 1978–2015
  • Laetrilomania: politics and science in the rise of a cancer drug

Marta Halina

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

Dissertations previously supervised by Marta Halina

  • Artificial intelligence and creativity
  • Self-consciousness and moral status
  • Miscommunicating cognitive neuroscience: folk concepts, scientific concepts, and the translation problem
  • Are we going wrong by trying to measure human empathy in animal minds?
  • Extended self in a modern technological context
  • The dual-role dilemma in forensic psychiatry
  • Minimal pluralism about folk psychological explanation
  • Black box AI or black box medicine? Explainability as a misguided requirement for artificial intelligence within healthcare
  • Can nonhuman animals fulfil the rationality criterion of personhood?
  • Algorithmic bias and inductive risk: an account of objectivity in scientific research using machine learning
  • Fear of mice: the case for animal emotions in comparative neuroscience
  • Anthropocentrism and self-awareness

Nick Hopwood

On leave in 2021–22

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

  • The psychiatric prescription of occupational therapy in interwar Britain
  • The making of Edge Knowledge: John Brockman, the Third Culture, and the promotion of science writers in the dot-com era
  • Cryptic diseases and the invention of a veterinary history: the mutual complication of epizootic science and international policy between the world wars
  • Science in the smoke: the rise and decline of the UK Medical Research Council's Air Pollution Research Unit
  • Asthma, self-management and the peak flow meter, 1965–1995
  • Lennart Nilsson's fetal photographs in Britain (1965 to 1975)
  • Presenting women as army surgeons: visual representations of female doctors at Endell Street Military Hospital
  • 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

Stephen John

On leave in Easter Term 2022

  • 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

  • Failure to care: understanding the dismissal of racialised patients' pain testimony in the obstetric setting as 'care injustice'
  • Upcoding in the German DRG system for hospital reimbursement: lies, epistemic risk, and values in science
  • Intentional fictions or inaccurate realism? An analysis of COVID-19 models for policy
  • Thank you NHS: on solidarity, and why the principles underpinning public healthcare are undermined by the private sector
  • An analysis of the role of demarcation in climate change debates
  • Ethical issues surrounding the use of DNA-CPR orders with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Do we have an obligation to be vaccinated?
  • Should patients with self-inflicted illnesses be treated free at the point of service?
  • The search for objectivity and the demarcation criterion
  • A comparison between contractualist and consequentilist bases for generating obligations to future generations
  • 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

Tim Lewens

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

Dissertations previously supervised by Tim Lewens

  • Evolutionary debunking arguments, evolutionary science, and empathy
  • The ethics of germline modification
  • From value-freedom to fair procedures: making the science behind public policy legitimate
  • Justifying non-invasive prenatal testing: on public health and reproductive autonomy
  • Too pragmatic to push: towards an evidence-based assessment of obstetric risk and the ethical permissibility of maternal request caesarean sections
  • The commodification objection to human gene patenting: moving towards a values-based account
  • Would it be reasonable to permit performance-enhancing drugs in sport?
  • To what extent is moral judgement in humans innate?
  • 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

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

  • 'Their own embellishments and imaginations': competition, observation and the uniformity of nature in Jan Swammerdam's visual registers
  • The body of the artist: anecdotes of illness and death in Giorgio Vasari's Vite
  • 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

  • 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)

Dissertations previously supervised by Staffan Müller-Wille

  • Kurt Gödel's philosophical notebooks: notebook-writing as a way of leading a philosophical life
  • The East India Company and the ways in which it carried out the analysis and collection of data for imperial activities
  • The baby in the cybernetic bath: biological teleology between autopoietic self-maintenance and cybernetic adaptivity
  • The doctrine of signatures and the New World
  • 'Little winged heroes': military messenger pigeon training and management in the Middle East Pigeon Service during the Second World War

Simon Schaffer

  • 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

  • Automated magic: automata and early film at the Egyptian Hall, c.1875–1905
  • 'The impregnable foundations of geometry and arithmetick': Wren's architecture and mathematical science
  • Constructing policy relevance: authorship and lost knowledge in the context of the IPCC
  • The astronomer at the end of the world: communicating scientific authority in Camille Flammarion's fin de siècle fiction
  • 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

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
  • Artificial intelligence

Dissertations previously supervised by Richard Staley

  • Weather modification and climate modelling: Nile Blue and the Cold War geopolitics of science
  • Do cyborgs dream of customer fulfilment? Logistics and economics at RAND, 1946–1960
  • Case studies in the decolonisation of climate science
  • Winds of change: lessons from Clyde River on decolonisation and climate
  • The 1931 Maxwell centenary celebrations: 'the recognition he deserved'?
  • The Institute of Economic Affairs and the Tobacco Strategy: interrelations of climate science, market interests and debate in the 1990s
  • 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

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

  • Has there always been 'every conceivable type of person'? Homosexuality, natural kinds, and the sciences of sexual orientation
  • Restoring trust in pharmaceutical research: how conflict of interest management can aid in reaching this goal
  • Medicalisation and its discontents: philosophical theories of disease, fat activism, and the disease status of obesity
  • On off-label drug use: a critique of evidence-based medicine considering the realities of clinical practice
  • 'Black kidneys': the case for de-racialising kidney pathology
  • 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

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

  • 'A half-privileged class of young surgical adventurers': masculinities, medical men, and midwifery in the Carlisle controversy of 1827
  • Birth control for a 'bursting Britain': family planning and population control advocacy in the British press, 1966–1974
  • The Nestlé boycott and British breastfeeding, 1960s–1980s
  • Changing understandings of British caesarean sections: narratives of risk and choice
  • Vitamarketing: vitamins, British consumers, and the Second World War
  • From sin to sympathy: how letters to the editor changed the British national discourse on inebriety
  • Seeing sadness: medical professionals, self-help advocates and the framing of postnatal depression in Britain from 1979 to 1997
  • Fetal research, abortion and the press in 1970s Britain
  • How did rubella in pregnant women become a public health concern in Britain in the mid-to-late 20th century, and what are the legacies of this movement?
  • '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

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

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

Ali Boyle

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

Dissertations previously supervised by Ali Boyle

  • Has the artificial intelligence research community developed episodic memory?

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

  • Philosophy of biology (evolutionary theory, cultural evolution)
  • Philosophy of psychology and cognitive science (cognitive evolution, cognitive science of religion, comparative psychology, cross-cultural comparison)
  • Philosophy of the social sciences (anthropology, game theory, social epistemology, social ontology)

Dissertations previously supervised by Andrew Buskell

  • An Arendtian solution to the problem of human enhancement
  • 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

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

  • Pan-dispositionalism, categoricalism, and the mixed view: a metametaphysical case study
  • 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

  • Literature and medicine in 18th-century Britain
  • Philosophy of diet and appetite control; history of eating disorders and female fasting
  • Gender, body history and women's health before the 1800s
  • Early modern medicine and religion (especially medical-religious collaborations, as well as medical conflicts with spiritual and supernatural knowledges of the body)
  • History of feminist philosophy and literature

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, understanding and progress, experimentalism)
  • Aesthetics in science (beauty and sublime in science, creativity and imagination in scientific discovery)
  • 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)

Dissertations previously supervised by Milena Ivanova

  • What is scientific creativity?
  • Aesthetic appreciation of nature
  • Theoretical virtues in Everettian quantum mechanics
  • An analysis of the use of beauty in theory choice and an argument against aesthetic induction
  • Post-empirical theory assessment in theories of quantum gravity
  • Accessing the merits of selective scientific realism
  • Fundamentalism in the acceptance of atomism
  • Functional explanations in biology
  • Rational choice theory and predictive accuracy

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

  • The a priori in science and Wittgensteinian certainties
  • Rethinking the legacy of J.H. Woodger
  • What's in a name? Heroes 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

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

  • The promise of CRISPR: a rhetorical analysis of dominant metaphors in an emerging technology
  • 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

Jessica Lee

  • General environmental history and environmental humanities
  • History of land conservation in Britain
  • British and North American nature writing/literatures of natural history (18th century to present)

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
  • Epidemiology and socio-cultural responses to epidemics
  • Visual communication of science and medicine

Dissertations previously supervised by Richard McKay

  • Geographies of sexual risk: reimagining migration through an analysis of sexual health research and clinical practice
  • The onto-mythology of essentialism in genetic research about homosexuality
  • Dental dams as a technology of safer sex: lesbians, AIDS and biopolitics
  • 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

  • Herschel and Uranus in the public sphere
  • 'Exhibits of processes': working agricultural laboratories and other industrial science demonstrations at international exhibitions, 1893 to 1915
  • John Kendrew and the progression of myoglobin protein models, 1950–1975
  • 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

Ryan Nehring

History of modern agriculture, development studies, science and technology, especially in Brazil and Latin America:

  • Political economy of development
  • Agricultural and rural development policy
  • Political sociology and agrarian studies
  • Politics and policies of food systems and food sovereignty
  • History of development studies

Rune Nyrup

  • Ethics and epistemology of artificial intelligence
  • Philosophy of medicine (medical diagnosis, extrapolation, informed consent)
  • Philosophy of archaeology
  • General philosophy of science (abduction, analogies, hypothesis generation, values in science, realism)

Dissertations previously supervised by Rune Nyrup

  • A trilemma for the possibility of AGI: triangulating versatility, tractability and frugality
  • The problem of interpretability in machine learning – ethical motivations and solutions
  • The ethical issues surrounding informed consent in the implementation of artificial intelligence in healthcare: what must be considered before prescribing intelligent wearable devices in cardiology?
  • Using values to balance the accuracy vs bias trade-off in AI: an exploration of representative data and aspirational values
  • 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

Carolin Schmitz

History of early modern medicine (social and cultural approach):

  • Medical pluralism
  • Medical encounters and the law
  • History of medical licensing
  • History of medical practices in early modern Spain
  • History of the patient / patient-practitioner relationships
  • Medicine and the Spanish picaresque novel

Anne Secord

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

Dissertations previously supervised by Anne Secord

  • Radical observer: the travels of Joseph Beete Jukes
  • 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

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

  • Attention, please! Recovering working-class audience experiences at popular science lectures in Britain, 1850–1900
  • The reception of Robert Young's 'Mind, Brain and Adaptation in the Nineteenth Century' (1970)
  • 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

William Simpson

  • Metaphysics (in particular, metaphysics of science)
  • Philosophy of physics (in particular, quantum physics)
  • Philosophy of nature (in particular, ontology and hylomorphism)

Mark Tonelli

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

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

Dissertations previously supervised by Rosie Worsdale

  • 'Gendered illness': understanding the lived experience of PCOS