Brown Bag Lectures

Brown Bag Lectures (BBLs) are a series of semi-weekly, informal talks given by a scholar of the history of chemistry or related subjects, including the history and social studies of science, technology, and medicine. Here is a list of past lectures.

Fall 2017

December 4

Paul Sampson
The Cosmology of Blood and Air: Stephen Hales and Providential Improvement

November 20

Elena Kunadt
Atrazine in Corn Production: A History of Knowledge and Ignorance about the Herbicide Atrazine in West Germany and the United States, 1950–1991

November 6

Sam Alberti
How to Collect an Oil Rig: The Challenges and Opportunities of Contemporary Science, Technology, and Medicine

October 23

Jessica Martucci
Understanding the Experiences and Meanings of Disability in STEM

October 9

Gwen Ottinger and Kelsey Boone
Community-Based Air Monitoring as Moral Repair: Understanding the (In)significance of Monitoring Data for Refinery-Adjacent Communities

October 2

Kit Heintzman
Reconsidering the Periphery’s Pharmacopoeia: Medicine for Animals in 18th-Century Mauritius and Réunion Islands

September 18

Heidi Voskuhl
Chemistry, Engineering, Philosophy: Machine Cultures and Social and Intellectual Elites in the Second Industrial Revolution (1900 to 1930)

Spring 2017

 

May 15

Tianna Uchacz
Of Pixels, Prints, and Publics: The Art of Describing Images in the the Institute Collections

 

May 8

Michael Rossi
From Color to Culture (and Back Again)

 

May 1

Elisabeth Moreau
The Composition of Life and Health: Elements, Particles, and Atoms in Late Renaissance Physiology

 

April 17

Marlise Rijks
Man-Made: Counterfeiting Nature in Early Modern Europe

 

April 10

Marieke Hendriksen
Boerhaave’s Mineral Chemistry and Its Influence on 18th-Century Pharmacy in the Netherlands

 

April 3

Deanna Day
Infrastructures of Hope: Taking Care of Medicine in Southern California

 

March 20

Joris Mercelis
Commercializing Academic Knowledge and Reputation in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries: Photography and Beyond

 

March 13

Sarah Ehlers
Brown Bag Lecture: Pharmaceutical Crossings: Sleeping Sickness Research between Europe, Colonial Africa, and the United States, 1890–1950

 

February 27

Joe Martin
Rethinking Industrial Patronage of Academic Research in the Early Cold War

 

Febrary 20

Cari Casteel
A Better Mousetrap for Your Armpit: Deodorant and Technological Innovation

 

Febrary 13

Spring Greeney
What Clean Smells Like: Commercial Chemists and the Politics of Women’s Work in the Mid-Century United States

Fall 2016

 

December 12

Agnieszka Rec
Lessons from a List of Paracelsians Alive in 1579

 

December 5

Billie Faircloth
Plastics Now

 

November 28

Jean-Olivier Richard
Père Castel and the Cogs of Chymistry

 

November 14

Kirsten Moore-Sheeley
Making Public Health Commodities and Global Health Science in Africa: The Early History of Pyrethroid-Treated Nets

 

October 31

Thomas Apel
Translating Lavoisier . . . Again: “French Chemistry” and the Making of American Science in the Medical Repository, 1797–1801

 

October 24

Lynne Friedmann
Ink Chemists of the Industrial Revolution

 

October 17

Mark Waddell
Lies, Damned Lies, and Experiments: The Problem of Mendacity in Early Modern Medical Narratives

 

October 3

Ingemar Petterson
Masters of Flavor: Sensory Analysis and High-Industrial Food

 

September 26

Robert G. W. Anderson
Publishing a Scientist’s Correspondence: Joys and Sorrows

Spring 2016

 

May 23

Francesco Gerali
Petroleum in the Modern Age: A Puzzle That Lasted Four Centuries
 

May 19

Eva Hemmungs Wirtén
Otlet’s Order: Intellectual Property and the Bibliographical Imagination
 

May 2

Nicholas Shapiro
Plant to Plant to Plant or Some Modes of Chemo-Capital Succession
 

April 25

Nathalie Jas
Segmentation of Issues as Process of Invisibilization: The Case of Pesticides
 

April 18

Donna Bilak
Material Literacy and the Role of Reconstruction in History of Science Scholarship: ‘Making and Knowing’ in the Lab
 

April 11

Michael Rossi
Small Lies for Big Truths: Color Standards in American Industry, Education, and Government, 1890–1930
 

April 4

Ramya Rajagopalan
Making Drugs Work Better: Warfarin, DNA, and the Clinical Pursuit of Precision Medicine
 

March 28

Roger Eardley-Pryor
Creating Klaus Schulten’s Computational Microscope: A Beckman Legacy in Illinois
 

March 21

Roksana Filipowska
Plastic Design, Soft Diplomacy: The Role of Plastics in the ‘Normalization’ of Czechoslovakia, 1971–1975
 

March 14

Jenny Beckman
The Publication Strategies of Jöns Jacob Berzelius (1779–1848)
 

February 22

Simon Werrett
Household Oeconomy and Chemical Inquiry, 1760 to 1840

 

February 1

Stefano Gattei
Vincenzo Viviani and the Beginning of Galileo’s Mythography
 

Fall 2015

 

December 8

Lisa Haushofer
Thrift on Toast, Civilization Consommé: Physiological Chemistry, Commercial Medicinal Foods, and the Modern Eating and Digesting Body

 

December 1

Elena Conis
The DDT Myths

 

November 24

Raechel Lutz
Oil in the Garden State: How Petroleum and Pollution Have Shaped New Jersey
 

November 17

Axel Petit
An Archetypal Case of the Emergence of Interdisciplinary Studies: The Hypothesis of Clausius-Williamson (1850–1890)
 

October 27

Hanna Vikstrom
Scarcity or Abundance? Illuminating the Role of Scarce Metals
 

October 13

Justin Rivest
The Chymical Capuchins of the Louvre and Their Planned Mission to Ethiopia (1678–1681)
 

September 29

Andreas Weber
Making Money Circulate: Chemistry and ‘Governance’ in the Career of Coins in the Early 19th-Century Dutch Empire
 

September 22

Marcin Krasnodebski
Can Science Feed on Crisis? The Case of the French Resin Chemistry (1900–1970)
 

September 8

Juan-Andres Leon
Illuminating the Mid-20th-Century Revolution in Instrumental Analysis: The Bodensee Collection at the Science History Institute
 

Spring 2015

 

May 19

Deanna Day
Bringing Science Down to the Level of Boys: Chemistry Sets, the American Future, and Making Meaning out of Science Using the Technological Systems of Toys
 

May 12

Elly Truitt
Roger Bacon’s Experimental Science
 

May 5

Jason Pine
Meth Labs, Material Culture, and Industrial Geography
 

April 28

Michael Worboys
Before Translational Medicine: The Development of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
 

April 21

Meredith Farmer
Organic Melville: On Literary and Chemical Forms
 

April 7

Sergio Sismondo
On Hegemony of Knowledge in the Pharmaceutical Industry
 

March 31

Daniel Kelm
Chemical Glassware: The Aesthetics of Function
 

March 24

Geert Somsen
Chemical Internationalism: Wilhelm Ostwald, Die Brücke, and the Energy Streams of Empire
 

March 17

Mathias Grote
From “Total Synthesis” to “Synthetic Biology”? Making Biomolecules with Reagents, Enzymes, and Machines, 1960s–1980s
 

March 10

Charlotte Abney
Finding Yttrium: Johan Gadolin and the Development of a “Discovery”
 

March 3

Nadia Berenstein
Capturing Nature’s Flavors: Flavor Chemistry in the United States, 1913–1954
 

February 24

Kristin DeGhetaldi
Before Leonardo: Using Science to Discover Italy’s First Oil Painters
 

February 10

Joel Klein
What Are the Historians Doing in the Laboratory?! The Methods and Methodology of Reconstructing BNF MS. FR. 640
 

Fall 2014

 

December 9

Ignacio Suay Matallana
Chemicals across Borders: Customs Laboratories, Law, and Fraud

 

December 2

Benjamin Gross
The Optel Affair: The Curious Story of the First LCD Spin-off
 

November 11

Timothy Johnson
Population Boom: Warfare, Fertilizers, and the Chemicalization of American Agriculture

 

November 4

Daniel Liu
Molecules under Polarized Light, 1910–1939

 

October 21

E. A. Driggers
Edward Darrell Smith and the Chemical Treatment of Urinary Stones

 

October 21

Rachel Rothschild
The European Air Chemistry Network and the Construction of a “Global” Climate

 

October 14

Stefano Gattei
Medicine, Alchemy, and Natural Philosophy in the Early Lyncean Academy

 

October 7

Jeremy Greene
Sciences of the Similar: A History of “Me-Too” Medicines

 

September 30

Jeffrey Johnson
Emil Fischer’s Dream: A “Synthetic-Chemical Biology” in the Early 20th Century

 

September 23

William Brock
The History of Chemistry in 30 Minutes Flat

 

Spring 2014

 

May 20

Brent Lane
“Won’t Get Fooled Again”: The Primacy of Chemistry in the Founding of America

 

May 13

Robert Slate
Nanomaterials Dossier in Review: Understanding the Evolution of U.S. and E.U. Regulatory Approaches to Protecting and Providing Access to Risk Data Information

 

February 4

Michelle DiMeo
“Such a Sister Became Such a Brother”: Lady Ranelagh’s Influence on Robert Boyle
 

February 11

Alex Csiszar
Under the Microscope: Journalistes vs. Rapporteurs at the Académie des Sciences, 1824–1836
 

February 18

Juan-Andres Leon
Of Shuffled Punched Cards and Errant Polymers: Theory, Industry and War in Mid-20th Century America
 

February 25

Robin Scheffler
The Formation of a Scientific Bubble: Cancer Viruses and the Acceleration of Biomedical Research
 

March 4

Kurtis Hessel
Symbolic Elements and Generic Solutions: Humphry Davy’s Consolations in Travel
 

March 11

Emily B. Stanback
Romantic Self-Experimentation and Thomas de Quincey’s Opium Eater 

 

March 18

Dániel Margócsy
The Well Temper’d Engraver: Newtonian Optics, Theories of Proportion, and the Invention of Color Printing

 

March 25

Joel A. Klein
Epistolary Chymistry, The Philosophical Golden Chicken, and Recipes for the Reform of Medicine 

 

April 1

Rebecca Guenard
Dyeing for Change: A Historical Perspective on Tress-Altering Chemicals 

 

April 8

Donna Bilak 
Blast from the Past: 1950s Atomic Jewelry 

 

April 22

Carsten Reinhardt
Material Culture of Science, Science of Material Culture 

 

April 29

Nick Harris 
“What’s in the Box?”: Religion, Secrets, and Epistemology in Later Islamic Alchemy 

 

May 6

Jarmo Pulkkinen 
“Before Long, This Process Will Be in General Use throughout Europe”: A History of the AIV Method

Fall 2013

 

December 10

Iain Watts
Chemistry and Newspapers in Napoleonic Europe

 

December 3

Evan Hepler-Smith
What’s in a Nomenclature? Structures of Crisis and Reform at the Geneva Nomenclature Congress of 1892

 

November 19

Leah McEwen
Whither the History, Whither the Future of Chemical Information?

 

November 12

Donna Bilak
Science, Song, and the Philosophers’ Stone: Reading Michael Maier’s Alchemical Emblem Book, Atalanta fugiens (1618)

 

November 5

Elisabeth Berry Drago
Thomas Wijck’s Painted Alchemists at the Intersection of Art, Science, and Practice

 

October 29

Thibaut Serviant-Fine
Rationalizing Drug Discovery? The Early History of Antimetabolites (1940–1960)

 

October 22

Nick Shapiro
Chemical Freshness, Chemical Fetish: On Toxicity and the “New Car Smell”

 

October 1

Gildo M. dos Santos
Ida Noddack and the Universal Function of Matter

 

September 24

Timothy Yang
Market, Medicine, and Empire: Japanese Pharmaceuticals in the Early 20th Century

Spring 2013

 

May 7

Tuna Artun
Guiding the Elect: A Textual History of Ottoman Alchemy in the 18th Century

 

April 30

Benjamin Gross
The Rise of the Digital Indicator: A Story in Seven Segments

 

April 16

Carolina Malagon
Affinity and Self-Experiment: J. W. Ritter’s Galvanic Poetics

 

April 9

Andrew Butrica
Jean-Baptiste Dumas (1800–1884): Chemistry, Industry, Labor, and the French Bourgeoisie

 

April 2

Henry Cowles and Michael Barany
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackboard

 

March 26

Cameron Strang
Geology, Slavery, and Sectionalism in the 1830s Gulf South

 

March 19

Victoria Lee
Pure Culture: Traditional Industry and Microbial Studies in Early 20th-Century Japan

 

March 5

Laura Anne Kalba
Movement, Spark, and Color: A Short History of Fireworks

 

February 19

Max Liboiron
Defining Pollution in the Early Twentieth Century: Allowable Limits and Natural Thresholds

 

February 5

Ann Robinson
Early Periodic Tables of the Elements: Classification, Visualization, and the Periodic Law

 

February 2

TL Hill and Shreeram R. Mudambi
Guilds and Organizational Change: Contested Logics in the Management of Innovation at Rohm and Haas

Fall 2012

 

December 11

Deanna Day
Black Boxing Women: The Computerization of Natural Family Planning and the Consequences of an App-Driven World

 

November 27

Nadia Berenstein
“The Art in Imitation Flavors”: Flavor Chemistry and Scientific Craft

 

November 13

David Singerman 
Fraud and Suspicion in the Atlantic Sugar Trade

 

November 6

Sarah Milov
“Quality Tobacco”: The Making of the Concept and the Crop

 

October 30

Ari Gross
Rep­re­sen­tations of Chemical Entities in the Late 19th Century (cancelled due to inclement weather)

 

October 23

Heidi Voskuhl
Engineers’ Class Struggle and the Question of “Technology” in German and American High Industrialism

 

October 16

Mat Savelli
Advertising Psycho­pharma­ceuticals, 1953–2013: Evolution, Questions, and Controversies

 

October 9

Catherine Price
The Back of the Box: A Nutritional Label Guided Tour

 

October 2

Joel A. Klein
Daniel Sennert and the Chymical Causes of Disease

 

September 25

Jan Golinski
Humphry Davy: The Experimental Self

Spring 2012

 

May 8

Benjamin Gross
Crystal Clear, Tritan Tough: A Case Study in Polymer Development

 

May 1

Kurt MacMillan
“Which in European races is characteristic of the castrate and eunuchoid conditions”: Indigenous Body Hair Studies in Chile, 1933–1946

 

April 24

Jongmin Lee
Demonstrating for the Environment: Scrubbers and EPA’s Sulfur Dioxide Control during the 1970s

 

April 17

Alex Csiszar
In the Air or on the Page? Making Argon Public

 

April 10

Juan-Andres Leon
Chemist-Industrialists in Germany’s Age of Scientific Philanthropy (1870s–1930s)

 

April 3

Matthew N. Eisler
Innovation and Ideology: Producing and Interpreting Facts from Lab to Policy Salon in the Energy R&D Sector

 

March 27

Matthew Shindell
Atomic Trauma and New Territory: The Rise of Nuclear Geochemistry at the University of Chicago

 

March 20

Sonja Schmid
Between Flexibility and Control: Managing the Soviet Nuclear Industry

 

March 13

Rebecca Laroche
The Case of Syrup of Violets: Robert Boyle and the Recipe Archive

 

March 6

Joseph Martin
A Good Name and Great Riches: Rebranding Solid-State Physics for the National Laboratories

 

February 28

Michelle Francl
Trolling for Comments: How Authors, Bloggers, and Trolls Wrangle with the Chemical Literature

 

February 21

Jeffrey Johnson
The Regimentation of Chemical Education in Nazi Germany

 

February 7

Melanie Kiechle
Visualizing Vapors: The Shift from Smell to Smoke in Defining Air Quality

 

January 31

Michael Gordin
The Rise of Chemical Russian: Periodic Priority and Translated Tables

 

January 24

Christine Nawa
Bunsen’s American Legacy

Fall 2011

 

December 13

J. Emmanuel Raymundo
When Was Leprosy? The Case of the Culion Leper Colony in the U.S.-Occupied Philippines, 1902–1941

 

December 6

Helen Anne Curry
Radiation and Restoration: Saving the American Chestnut Tree in the Atomic Age

 

November 15

Sarah Everts
A History of Sweat Science, Followed by a Detour to Science behind the Berlin Wall

 

November 8

Brendan Matz
Wilbur Atwater, Respiration Calorimetry, and the Science of Nutrition in the United States

 

November 1

Park Doing
Applying Ethnographic Insight to Engineering Ethics: Epistemography, the Space Shuttle Challenger, and the BP Gulf Coast Underwater Oil Gusher

 

October 25

Augustin Cerveaux
Pure and Impure Paints: The Story of an ‘Ontological Shift’ of Materials in the Progressive Era

 

Octoberer 18

Doogab Yi
A Medical Vietnam? Critics of the Cancer Establishment and the Demise of the Virus Cancer Program in the 1970s

 

October 11

Evan Hepler-Smith
The Deception Expert: Maximilian Toch’s Science of Authentication

 

October 4

Catherine Jackson
Vitreous Virtuosity: Chemical Glassblowing and the Material Culture of 19th-Century Chemistry

 

September 27

John E. Lesch
Chemotherapy by Design

Spring 2011

 

May 24

Megan Shields Formato
Niels Bohr’s Writing

 

May 17

Funke Sangodeyi
Body Holocaust: Antibiotics, Good Germs, and Disease Ecologies, 1940s–1950s

 

May 10

Benjamin Gross
Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory: RCA and the Commercialization of the LCD

 

April 26

Amy Slaton
High-Tech Innovation and Economic Uplift: What America Means by Progress

 

April 12

Deirdre Loughridge
Music, Science, and Metaphysical Empiricism in the Age of Beethoven

 

April 9

Helen Anne Curry
The Evolution Engineers: Plant Breeding with Colchicine in the Laboratory and at Home, 1937–1950

 

April 5

Jessica Martucci
Don’t Poison Your Baby: Toward an Environmental History of Breastfeeding

 

March 22

Carin Berkowitz
Beyond the “Book” of Nature: Putting Pictures in Their Place in Systems of Anatomical Visual Displays

 

March 15

José Bertomeu-Sánchez
Managing Uncertainty in the Academy and the Courtroom: Normal Arsenic and 19th-Century Toxicology

 

March 8

Martha Gardner
“Development of a Germicidal Soap”: The Invention and Use of Hexachlorophene in the American Post–World War II Age of Confidence and Cleanliness

 

March 1

Hyungsub Choi
Circulation of Semiconductor Technology in the Second and Third Industrial Revolutions

 

February 22

Daniel Trambaiolo
Mercury Therapies for Syphilis in Early-Modern Japan (1550–1850)

 

February 15

Iain Watts
The Frog, the Ox, and the Hanged Man: Giovanni Aldini and the Popular Uses of Galvanism in Britain, 1802–1803

 

February 8

Nasser Zakariya
Explorations of the Material Origins of Life: Harlow Shapley and the Oparin-Haldane Theory

 

January 25

Lloyd Ackert
At the Nexus of Organic Chemistry, Ecology, and Microbiology: Sergei Winogradsky’s Research into Chemosynthesis, 1880–1900

 

January 11

Thomas R. Tritton
The Story of Chemistry from the 18th Century to Today: Great Names, Great Steps

Fall 2010

 

December 14

Daniel Jütte
Sharing Secrets: Jews, Christians, and the Practice of Alchemy in the Early Modern Period

 

December 7

Bess Williamson
Materials of Independence: High and Low Tech

 

November 23

Donna Messner
The Advent of Medical Foods in the U.S.

 

November 16

Tayra Lanuza-Navarro
Astrology and Alchemy before the Spanish Inquisition

 

November 9

Christine Nawa
The Example of Robert Wilhelm Bunsen

 

November 2

William Goodwin
The Nonclassical Ion Debate

 

October 26

Vangelis Koutalis
Humphry Davy’s Last Days: The Chemist as a Philosopher and a “Dreamer of Dreams”

 

October 19

Rebecca B. Miller
Identifying and Educating Future Scientists and Non-Scientists in America, 1910–1970

 

October 12

James Rodger Fleming
Historical Perspectives on Weather and Climate Control

 

October 5

Melanie Kiechle
Chemists and the Public Nose in the Industrializing City

 

September 28

John Stewart
Chemical Affinity in Eighteenth-Century British Mineralogy

Spring 2010

 

May 18

Charlotte Bigg
Instrument Makers as Mediators between Science and Industry: The Case of Spectroscopy in the Early Twentieth Century

 

May 11

Nicholas Best
Themes in Pre-Lavoisierian Chemistry at the Académie Royale des Sciences of Paris

 

May 4

Regina Lee Blaszczyk
Plexiglas: From the Eyes of Aviation to McDonald’s Golden Arches