Geert Somsen was the Fall 2022 Röhm and Haas Fellow in Focus and, apart from that, a historian of science at Maastricht University and the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.
During his stay at the Institute, Somsen studied scientific conferences as practical manifestations of internationalism, focusing on the first chemical series of such meetings, the International Congress of Applied Chemistry (1893–1915). He was especially interested in how international bonds are being forged at these gatherings and what the function is of typical conference routines and rituals, such as banquets and ladies’ programs. This work was part of a larger European Union–sponsored project called The Scientific Conference: A Social, Cultural, and Political History, involving several partners, including the Science History Institute. Somsen presented some findings of this project in a public lecture entitled “Why Gather? Reflections on the History (and Future) of Scientific Conferences.”