Applications for 2015–2016 fellowships are now closed. Applications for 2016-2017 will be available this 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.
- Applications for 2015–2016 fellowships are now closed. Applications for 2016–2017 will be available in the fall.
- We are pleased to announce the Spring 2015 Brown Bag Lecture series! Find out more about the speakers by visiting the BBL event page.
- The Beckman Center will be hosting three additional evening lectures this fall. They are as follows:
- April 2, 2015, Rohm and Haas Fellow in Focus Lecture: Beckman Center Haas Dissertation Fellow Nadia Berenstein will be speaking on her research into the history and science of flavor additives, the subject of her dissertation, “Flavor Added: Synthetic Flavors in the U.S., 1870–1970.”
- May 21, 2015, Cain Conference Public Lecture: In a public event in conjunction with CHF's Cain Conference, Iwan Morus and Jeremy Brooker will discuss (and demonstrate!) science and spectacle in the 19th century.
- June 10, 2015, Synthesis Lecture: Joseph Gabriel, Synthesis series author, will discuss his 2014 book, Medical Monopoly: Intellectual Property Rights and the Origins of the Modern Pharmaceutical Industry.
- The Beckman Center is pleased to announce the 2014–2015 class of fellows. Check out Fellows and Staff to learn more about this diverse group of scholars and the research they will be doing.
- Other recent updates from fellows:
- Rebecca Guenard (2013–2014 Societe de Chimie Industrielle Fellow) has published her story on the history of hair dye in Mosaic. Much of the reasearch done for this piece was completed at CHF.
- Kathryn Steen (2000–2001 Edelstein Fellow) has recently published The American Synthetic Organic Chemicals Industry: War and Politics, 1910–1930 (University of North Carolina Press, 2014), much of it based on research conducted at CHF.
- Gildo Santos (2013–2014 Allington Fellow) has published “A Tale of Oblivion: Ida Noddack and the ‘Universal Abundance’ of Matter,” based on research conducted during his fellowship. It is available online.
- A recent ACS Symposium Series volume, The Future of the History of Chemical Information, has been edited by Leah McEwen (2013–2014 Otlet Fellow). It is available online via the American Chemical Society.
- Donna Bilak (2013–2014 Edelstein Fellow) has written an entry on John Allin, a 17th-century Puritan alchemist, for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. The entry will appear in the ODNB’s 10th anniversary edition.
- Elena Serrano (2011–2012 CHF Fellow) has had her article “Chemistry in the City: The Scientific Role of Female Societies in Eighteenth-Century Spain” named “Editor’s Choice” by Ambix. Research for this article was funded through a CHF travel grant.
Fellowships and Travel Grants
2010-2011 Fellows at the Hagley Museum and Library
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. The 2013–2014 class has welcomed five postdoctoral fellows, four dissertation fellows, and fourteen short-term fellows, making CHF a leading center for independent research in the history of science and technology in the United States.
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.
Fellows, staff, and visiting scholars at the Beckman Center engage in a variety of projects, from dissertation research to exhibit curation and public outreach. On any given day researchers might be examining depictions of alchemists in art, science in 19th-century literature, or natural history collections of early museums.
In our “Behind the Beaker” interview series Beckman Center scholars discuss their research. The latest episodes can be found below.
Evan Hepler-Smith, Herdegen Fellow 2013-2014
Elisabeth Berry-Drago, Allington Fellow 2013–2014
Benjamin Gross, Cain Fellow 2012–2013
Joel Klein, Edelstein Fellow 2012–2013
Conferences, Lectures, and More
Robert Fox speaks at the 2013 Fellow in Focus lecture. Photo by Conrad Erb.
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.
Publications produced by Beckman Center fellows and scholars, past and present.
After receiving the largest application pool yet, CHF is pleased to welcome 24 fellows for the 2014–2015 academic year. Together with nearly a dozen scholars on staff, CHF hosts a sizable community of people working in some aspect of the history and sociology of chemistry and related sciences.
The Chemical Heritage Foundation has hosted scholars from all parts of the world through its fellowship and travel grant programs. If you are interested in applying for a particular fellowship, take a look the cast of scholars who have held these fellowships in the past.
Synthesis, a series of books developed by the Chemical Heritage Foundation and published by the University of Chicago Press, seeks to shed light on the history of chemistry, broadly construed, and its diverse roles in society.
These individuals and foundations make CHF one of the leading history of science and technology research centers in the United States.