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Beckman at 25: Jennifer Rampling

Jennifer Rampling, attempting to replicate late medieval alchemical recipes at Cambridge University.

Jennifer Rampling, attempting to replicate late medieval alchemical recipes at Cambridge University.

2012 is the 25th anniversary of CHF’s Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry. To celebrate the Beckman Center’s remarkable achievements and its many accomplished fellows, we will be profiling one former fellow each month over the course of the year. This month we’d like you to meet Jennifer (Jenny) Rampling.

Jenny's first article, “Establishing the Canon: George Ripley and His Alchemical Sources,” won the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry’s (SHAC) Partington Prize in 2008.  Shortly thereafter, in the spring of 2009, she held an Allington Fellowship at CHF while finishing her doctoral dissertation, “The Alchemy of George Ripley, 1470-1700.”  That research led to a subsequent publication in Ambix, "Catalogue of the Ripley Corpus."

Jenny stays busy these days. Those of you who are historians of early modern chemistry will recognize her as the person who sends out the SHAC newsletter each month, but news of her accomplishments could fill a column of that newsletter as well. Jenny was just appointed editor of the journal AMBIX; she has been deputy editor since December 2010, and her new post starts January 2013. She also co-organizes the AD HOC history of chemistry reading group at Cambridge University and University College London, is a member of the Council for the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry, and is on the programs committees of the British Society for the History of Science and the Forum for the History of the Chemical Sciences (FoHCS), a new history of chemistry special interest group of the HSS.

In addition Jenny is currently writing two books: The Making of English Alchemy, an academic monograph based on her Ph.D. and postdoctoral research; and The Hidden Stone: Alchemy, Art and the Ripley Scrolls, a trade book for a general audience decoding the spectacular Ripley Scrolls. Jenny describes them as “possibly the world’s most spectacular alchemical illuminations.” In addition, she has just finished editing a collection of essays on the Elizabethan mathematician-astrologer-alchemist John Dee as a special issue of Studies in History and Philosophy of Science. I would tell you to check out her work, but odds are good that if you are involved in the history of chemistry, you already have.

As if she weren’t busy enough with writing, Jenny is also attempting to decode late medieval alchemical recipes by replicating practices in a laboratory setting at Cambridge’s Department of Chemistry (pictured at upper right). You can watch for her feature article on the subject in the Fall 2012 issue of Chemical Heritage.

We are proud to call Jenny one of our alumni and are grateful for her ongoing support of CHF’s Beckman Center and the history of chemistry community at large.

Carin Berkowitz is the associate director of CHF’s Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry.

Related:
Beckman at 25: Bruce Lewenstein [Periodic Tabloid]
Beckman at 25: Seymour Mauskopf [Periodic Tabloid]

Posted In: Fellows

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