Beckman Center

Beckman Center

Applications for 2016–2017 are now closed. Applications for 2017–2018 will be posted in the fall.

The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry comprises a dynamic community of scholars interested in the history and social studies of chemistry, broadly construed. It is the home of academic programming at CHF, including a weekly talk series (Brown Bag Lectures), a book series in the history of chemistry put out by University of Chicago Press (Synthesis), an annual conference organized by a leading scholar in the history of science community (the Gordon Cain Conference), and occasional conferences and workshops by leading historians of chemistry who are interested in working with CHF’s staff and whose work appeals to the broader scholarly community at CHF.  

The Beckman Center is also home to CHF’s fellows, of whom there are roughly 25 annually, making the Beckman Center the largest private fellowship program in the history of science in the United States. The Beckman Center, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2012, is proud to count among its alumni a long list of distinguished researchers (see Current and Former Fellows). We also offer travel grants to support one or two weeks of research using CHF’s collections.

New and Noteworthy * Fellowships and Travel Grants 
Conferences, Lectures, and More


New and Noteworthy

  • The Beckman Center is pleased to announce the 2015–2016 class of fellows. Check out Fellows and Staff to learn more about this diverse group of scholars and the research they will be doing.
  • Beckman Center Brown Bag lectures have begun for the spring term. Click here to find out about upcoming talks.

Other recent updates from fellows:

  • Justin Rivest (2015–2016 Price Fellow) passed his dissertation defense at Johns Hopkins University in January. Congratulations, Dr. Rivest!
  • Roksana Filipowska (2015–2016 Doan Fellow) hosted #FellowFriday about art and plastic on January 29. Check out our storify of the daylong chat, and be sure to catch Andreas Weber talking about scientist-explorers in 18th-century Southeast Asia for our next #FellowFriday on February 26.
  • Simon Werrett and Jenny Beckman both started their semester-long fellowships in January. We’re excited to have them here all spring and to attend their upcoming BBLs!


Fellowships and Travel Grants

Some of the 2015-2016 fellows at the fall Fellow in Focus talk

Beckman Center Scholars are an international group, coming to CHF from countries including China, Spain, Greece, France, and the United Kingdom; their scholarship is diverse and yet they form a strong community.  

The Beckman Center offers several fellowships for scholars doing research in the history and sociology of chemistry and related sciences, technologies, and industries. CHF fellows are encouraged to interact with the robust history of science community in Philadelphia. Fellows also participate in an informal writing group, which provides a critical but collegial setting in which to develop works in progress. Travel grants for short visits (less than one month) are also available to support focused research in the Othmer Library.


Conferences, Lectures, and More

Bill Newman provides a demonstration at the Fall 2015 Fellow in Focus lecture

Each year the Beckman Center hosts the Cain Conference, organized by an eminent scholar who works with CHF staff to develop a theme of broad contemporary relevance. 

The Beckman Center hosts a series of Brown Bag Lectures on Tuesdays during the spring and fall terms. At these lectures CHF fellows, travel grantees, staff, and other area scholars talk on topics involving the history of chemistry, political and social issues of importance to chemists and chemical engineers, and issues affecting the future of chemical research. The center also hosts occasional academic conferences and symposia.


The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry was started with a generous grant from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation in 1987.

Mailing List

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Brown Bag Lecture Series

Enjoy a bring-your-own brown-bag lunch while listening to CHF scholars share their research.

Sensing Change

See your environment with fresh eyes through this online exhibit.

Fellowships at CHF

CHF’s scholars, who spend anywhere from one to nine months in residence, form a vital part of CHF’s intellectual life.

Hear It Firsthand

CHF’s Center for Oral History captures and preserves the stories of notable figures in chemistry and related fields. Many of the oral histories in the collection belong to recipients of CHF awards, including


Support CHF

Help us preserve and share the history of chemistry and related sciences. Make a tax-deductible tax-deductible gift online.