Dibner Institute Seminar in History of Biology: From Embryology to Evo-Devo
Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA
May 30-June 6, 2001
The Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology announces its
Seminar in the History of Biology, to be held the evening of May 30 through
breakfast on June 6, 2001, at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods
Hole, Massachusetts. This year's seminar will explore the history of
developmental biology, from its inception as "embryology" to the most recent
approaches known as molecular developmental genetics and "evo-devo." We will
examine changing ways of looking at the developing individual organism,
both in itself and in the context of evolution and inheritance. Do
organisms differentiate as they grow, or are they preformed? How does
morphogenesis occur, by what causes, to what extent it is a purely material
process, and how we know? Which organisms should we study, using what
methods, and how can we capture and (re)present those results to others?
What difference does evolution make?
Through WW II, developmental studies found a place in medical schools as
embryology and also in "general biology" programs. A rapid shift from
embryology to developmental biology, starting in the 1950s, reflected
professional, institutional, epistemological, and methodological
differences. During subsequent decades, study of development has
experienced a changing and sometimes antagonistic relation to genetics and
to evolution. Along the way came molecular developmental genetics. Now,
with much fanfare, we have "evo-devo." This raises the questions, what do
we gain from these new labels, what exactly is going on now, and how do
contemporary approaches compare to previous approaches? By bringing
together historians, philosophers, and biologists, we will be able to
explore such questions in lively and multi-disciplinary ways. Since many
of the original important biological studies took place at the Marine
Biological Laboratory, this is a particularly appropriate venue. And
participation by some of the leading biologists who have made the most
difference over the past decades will provide important perspectives on the
history and philosophy of developmental biology.
We seek a diverse multi-disciplined and interdisciplinary group in order to
promote rich discussions and cross-fertilization of ideas and approaches.
Fertile collaborations have resulted from past Dibner seminars, and we
expect the same this year. Organizers for the Dibner History of Biology
Seminars are John Beatty, James Collins, and Jane Maienschein (contact
[log in to unmask] about this seminar). For futher information about the
seminar series and for application materials and financial aid applications
(15 January deadline), please contact : Dibner Institute for the History of
Science and Technology, Dibner Building, MIT E56-100, Cambridge MA 02139.
Or contact Carla Chrisfeld [log in to unmask], or at 617-253-8721.