Lunchtime Lectures

Lunchtime 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.

Spring 2019

May 21

Alexandre Hocquet and Frédéric Wieber
“Only the Initiates Will Have the Secrets Revealed”: Software Packages in Computational Chemistry

May 14

Rocio Gomez
To Victory with Vanadium! Technology, Mining, and Latin American Science

April 30

Julia Stone
Saccharin: A Chemical between Food and Drug

April 29

Sir John Meurig Thomas
Architects of Structural Biology: Bragg, Perutz, and Kendrew

April 16

Lucía Lewowicz
A Case for Integrated History and Philosophy of Chemistry: The Fertilizers of Justus von Liebig

March 12

Patrick Shea
Appraising Archives for the History of Science

February 26

Michael Lansing
“Before Minneapolis, There Was Good Bread”: Corporations and the Enrichment of White Bread Flour

February 19

Alex Mazzaferro
The Innovation Prohibition and the New Science of Politics in the Early Modern Atlantic World

Fall 2018

December 4

Roger Turner
Using Oral History and Podcasting in a Project-Based Public History Class

November 13

Amanda L. Mahoney
“New Heights of Inventiveness”: Nurses and the Innovation of Procedure Trays, 1920–1960

November 6

Isabelle Held
How Plastics Shaped the Bombshell: Military-Industrial Materials R&D and Women’s Bodies in the United States, 1939–1976

October 9

Colleen Lanier Chistensen
Standards for Labs and Markets: Regulating Chemical Risks and International Trade, 1970–2010

Spring 2018

May 14

Stephen Irish
The Recognition of Pseudomorphism: Mineral Chemistry as a Historical Science

May 7

Juan Felipe Moreno
Aero-Chemical Statecraft in Colombia (1978–2015)

April 30

Robert Fox
Binding the Wounds of War: The Paradoxes of International Science after World War I

April 23

Carin Berkowitz
Ways of Seeing: Gray’s Anatomy and the Making of a Modern Textbook

April 16

Spring Greeney
Defining Artifice: Arthur D. Little, Rayon, and the Origins of a Synthetic Textiles Industry

April 9

Lijing Jiang
Ideology and Innovation in Fish Farming Technology across the “Bamboo Curtain,” 1954–1965

March 19

Megan Piorko
Chymicall Collections: The Materiality of Speculation in 17th-Century Alchemical Texts

March 12

Angela Cope
The Beauty, the Baby, and the Bauble: Plastic Trinkets, Premiums, Novelties, and Toys, 1937–1960

March 5

Lucas Müller
Toxic Globe

February 26

Jody A. Roberts
When Legacy Becomes Destiny: Grappling with the Material, Cultural, and Regulatory Residues of Industrialized Communities

February 12

Tawrin Baker
“This Is Also How We Are Accustomed to Depict the Heavens and the Four Elements”: Vesalius, the Eye, and 16th-Century Visual Culture

February 5

Anastasia Day
Shop in Your Garden: Chemicals, Consumerism, and Victory Gardens in World War II

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