Lunchtime Lectures

The Lunchtime Lecture Series is a virtual weekly talk series on the history of science, technology, and medicine. We invite historians and speakers from the sciences, arts, and humanities to cover intriguing topics followed by a Q&A.

Now combined with our Saturday Speaker Series, Lunchtime Lectures take a rigorous and entertaining approach to exploring topics for scholars and anyone interested in stories about the history of science. The talks help expand perceptions of the nature of science and how it’s done.

This season, we’re showcasing historians and scientists whose work analyzes the past, present, and future of environmental science.

The Lunchtime Lecture Series is a project of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry at the Science History Institute. For more information about this series, please contact

Recorded Lunchtime Lectures

The following Lunchtime Lectures are now available to view. Click on the title to access the video.

Eleanor Armstrong
Footprints of Outer Space on Earth

William San Martín
Governing Nitrogen Species: Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Inequalities, and the rise of Earth-System Governance

Odinn Melsted
Amazing Adaptations of Aquatic Insects

Stefanie Kroll
Amazing Adaptations of Aquatic Insects

Hannah Pell
Three Mile Island: On the Closure and Decommissioning of a Nuclear Power Plant

Megan Raby
Working Naturalist: Episodes in the Life of Marston Bates, Life Scientist for Hire

D. O. McCullough
From Collections to Curriculums: Object Loans for Schools at the American Museum of Natural History, 1903–1919

Emily Herring
Henri Bergson’s Creative Evolution and 20th-Century Biology

Robin Wolfe Scheffler
Brightening Biochemistry: The Role of Humor in Scientific Research

Beans Velocci
Sex and the Species: Making Human Meaning of Animal Bodies at Cold Spring Harbor Eugenics Laboratories

Tiffany Nichols
Beyond the Lab: The Role of Experimental and Theoretical Physicists in the Site Selection of the LIGO

Allison Bigelow
Mining Language: Racial Thinking, Indigenous Knowledge, and Colonial Metallurgy in the Early Modern Iberian World

Patrícia Martins Marcos
Bridging Divides: Inscribing Racialized Bodies into the Narratives of Science, Medicine, and Beyond

Sabine Clarke
The Chemical Empire: Insecticides and Locust Control in East Africa after 1940

Allen Driggers
Resources of the Southern Fields and Forests: Botany, the American Civil War, and the Limits of Regional Analysis

Roger Turner
Untold Stories: Making Exhibitions More Inclusive

Hiro Hirai
Forgery and Early Modern Science: The Case of Pseudo-Paracelsus

George Elliott
Colonial Chymistry: Gershom Bulkeley and the 17th-Century Connecticut Alchemical Laboratory

Science, Incorporated: Constructing the Natures of American Modernization

This series of Lunchtime Lectures, held in May and June 2020, unpicked the diverse ways in which nature—and the study of nature—became entangled with the modernization of America, from the early origins of laboratory pedagogy to mineral prospecting by satellite. Drawing on their own original historical research, our speakers interrogated how the government department, virtuoso scientist, electronics corporation, and other contemporary agents mobilized scientific knowledge in pursuit of technological, social, and political objectives. Together they showed how these actions not only constructed knowledge of nature but also the multiple natures of American modernization.

Douglas O’Reagan
American Intellectual Reparations from the Nazis and the Myth of German Technological Superiority

Michael Rossi
Talking about Colors: Language, Perception, and American Modernity

Sarah Reynolds
Engaging Experiments: The Origins of Laboratory Instruction in the United States

Matthew Shindell
The Life and Science of Harold C. Urey: A Biography of 20th-Century Science

Benjamin Gross
A Window to the Future: LCD Manufacturing at RCA, 1968–1976

Megan Black
The Global Interior: Prospecting Mineral Frontiers from U.S. Settler Colonialism to the Space Race

Recent Lunchtime Lectures

Ashanti Shih
Collecting “Queer” Specimens: Settler Botany and Male Intimacies in Interwar Hawaii

Jenna Tonn
The Evolutionary Brotherhood: Manliness and Experimental Zoology in 19th-century America

Elise K. Burton
Shadows of Whiteness: Colonialism, Nationalism, and Racial Sciences in the Middle East

Haesoo Park
Cultures of Bioscience in Postcolonial Korea, 1980–2006

Ezelle Sanford III
Segregated Medicine: How Racial Politics Shaped St. Louis’s Healthcare System (1937–1979)

Gustave Lester
Land, Fur, and Copper: Territorial Science and Settler Colonialism in the Western Great Lakes, 1815–1854

Gina Surita
The Mysterious Muscle: Experimental Epistemologies of Force and Fuel

Geert Somsen
The Art of Gathering: Chemistry Conferences and the Reconciliation of the International Scientific Community after World War I

Ingrid Ockert
Scientific Fiction: Science Advising on Star Trek, 1964–1967

Roger Turner
Infrastructural Science: How Science without Discovery Keeps Technology Working (At Least Some of the Time)

Courtney Wilder
Chemical Inspirations: Printing and Representing “Rainbow”-Style Textiles during the First Decade of Photography

Lisa Ruth Rand
Neocolonial Space: Orbital Allocation in the Age of the New International Economic Order, 1971–1979

Yeonsil Kang
Hazardous Aid: The Growth of the Asbestos Industry and Post–Korean War Reconstruction in South Korea

Jennifer Tucker
Collecting the Future: Photography, Waste, and the Industrial Revolution

Charlotte A. Abney Salomon
The Discovery of Elements in 18th-Century Sweden

Tristan Revells
Rebuilding Rubble: Digitally Modeling China’s First Biofuel Factory

The following were presented as part of the Virtual Saturday Speaker Series:

Megan Haupt
Food Innovation: How a Global Pandemic Could Change the Way We Eat

Anastasia Klimchynskaya
Almost Magic: Edison, Electricity, and the Phonograph

Damian Niescior
Footwear for the Revolution: Shoemaking in the 18th Century