Our museum and library is closed today in celebration of Juneteenth.

John Powers outdoors in an urban area, wearing t-shirt, resting chin on hands

John Powers

Cain Senior Fellow

John Powers is an associate professor in the History Department at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. His research examines 17th and 18th century chemistry and its evolution from a craft practice to an academic discipline. In his book, Inventing Chemistry (University of Chicago Press, 2012), he examines how Dutch medical professor, Herman Boerhaave, reformed the teaching of chemistry by integrating theoretical discussion and experiments into a course of study that had previous focused on demonstrating chemical recipes. He currently is pursuing two research projects. One focuses on the integration of thermometry into chemistry in the 18th century; the second examines the claim popular among some 19th-century American chemists that Joseph Priestley brought modern chemistry to the United States.