2025 Gordon Cain Conference

In February 1975, researchers met at Asilomar, California, to discuss matters arising at the dawn of genetic engineering. In February 2025 a broader group will convene to learn from a half century of history and discuss important topics and puzzles arising in biotechnology today, including: artificial intelligence (AI), pathogens research and biological weapons, deployment of biotechnologies beyond conventional containment, bioeconomic framing, and flourishing. “Spirit of Asilomar” will enable future-facing dialogue and debate across multiple realms of expertise, informed by historical context and energized by art and culture. This conference is co-organized by Rice University, Stanford University, and the Science History Institute. More information is available on the official conference website, spiritofasilomar.org.

Conference Organizer

Luis Campos smiling, wearing glasses, in front of bookshelf
Luis Campos.

Luis Campos is the Baker College Chair for the History of Science, Technology, and Innovation at Rice University. Trained in both biology and in the history of science, Campos is a historian of science whose scholarship brings together archival discoveries with contemporary fieldwork at the intersection of biology and society. He has written widely on the history of genetics and biological engineering. He is the author of Radium and the Secret of Life (University of Chicago Press, 2015) and co-editor of Making Mutations: Objects, Practices, Contexts (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, 2009), and Nature Remade: Engineering Life, Envisioning Worlds (University of Chicago Press, 2021). He has held the Baruch S. Blumberg/NASA Chair of Astrobiology at the Library of Congress (2016-2017), and has been in residence at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), Columbia University (New York), Fondation Brocher (Geneva), Akademie Schloss Solitude (Stuttgart), and the biotech company Ginkgo Bioworks (Boston). Campos is an associate editor of the Journal of the History of Biology, and recently completed six years serving as Secretary of the History of Science Society.

About the Gordon Cain Conference

The Gordon Cain Conference is a gathering of scholars in the history of science and related fields. Each conference is organized by an eminent scholar who works with staff to develop a theme of broad contemporary relevance. Centered on a topic chosen by the conference organizer, the conference consists of an evening public lecture, a symposium, and a collected volume. It is hosted by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry and supported by a generous gift from Gordon Cain.

Featured Image of Asilomar Beach courtesy of Luis Campos.

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