The International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB) brings together scholars from diverse disciplines, including the life sciences as well as history, philosophy, and social studies of science. The biennial ISHPSSB summer meetings are known for innovative, transdisciplinary sessions, and for fostering informal, co-operative exchanges and on-going collaborations.

2013 Marjorie Green Prize for Lukas Rieppel and John Matthewson


The Marjorie Grene Prize is awarded every two years for the best manuscript based on a presentation at one of the two previous ISHPSSB meetings by someone who was, at the time of presentation, a graduate student. For the 2013 Prize, the Prize Committee received a total of fifteen submissions. All were of superb quality, with over half already published or accepted for publication. Once again the Committee was reminded of the creativity and talent of the more junior members of ISHPSSB, as well as the breadth of expertise that defines our Society.

In view of that breadth, and the different kinds of excellence it allows for, it is the more fitting that this year’s Prize will be shared between two recipients: a historian, Lukas Rieppel; and a philosopher, John Matthewson.

Rieppel did his graduate studies at Harvard, and is now an assistant professor at Brown. The Committee found his paper, entitled “Bringing Dinosaurs Back to Life: Exhibiting Prehistory at the American Museum of Natural History”, and since published in Isis, to be an important contribution to our understanding of the complex scientific and public roles of fossil displays in museums. Drawing on a wealth of previously little-explored primary sources from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, his paper offers an analytically lively and richly detailed reconstruction of the range of agendas and people that intersected in the museum rooms where dinosaur fossils were cleaned, assembled and installed. As the paper shows so persuasively and provocatively, the results are best understood as "mixed-media" works of scientific art and artful science.

Matthewson did his graduate studies at ANU, and now has appointments at Massey University, where he is a lecturer, and the University of Sydney, where he is working on a project as a postdoctoral fellow. In the Committee’s judgment, his paper, entitled “Evolving Populations”, offers a stimulating new perspective on the nature of the populations capable of undergoing adaptive evolution. Building on, but going decisively beyond, the existing philosophical literature on populations and natural selection, the paper mounts a compelling case for the indispensability within a population of the sort of causal connectedness captured by Alan Templeton’s term “exchangeability” — a case made with exemplary care, clarity, and consideration for counterarguments and alternative accounts.

Greg Radick (Chair), on behalf of the rest of the Grene Prize Committee (Tara Abraham, Stuart Glennan, Marta Halina and Michel Morange)