Above: “Nägeli-an” micellar diagram of cellulose, from William Seifriz, “The Contractility of Protoplasm,” The American Naturalist 63, no. 688 (September 1929): 410–34.

Summary CV:

Positions held

  • Current:
    • Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter beim Lehrstuhl für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Historisches Seminar der Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München; eigene Stelle beim DFG-Projekt “Lebende Substanz unter dem Mikroskop”
  • Previous:
    • Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG), Department III (Schäfer), Berlin, Germany. March–Dec 2021
    • Digital Humanities Consultant, “Oral Histories of Biology, Medicine, and Pandemic Response,” Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Library & Archives, New York July–Dec 2020.
    • Fellow, ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry, 2018–2020
    • Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Biohumanities, 2016–2018. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities. Samantha Frost, supervisor.
    • MBL McDonnell Scholar, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Nov 2017
    • Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow, MPIWG, Department II (Daston) May–July 2017.
    • 2014–2015 Charles C. Price Dissertation Fellow, Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry, Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia.


  • PhD: History of Science, Medicine, and Technology. University of Wisconsin-Madison, July 2016. Focus in history of modern biology, physiology, and biophysics. Lynn Nyhart, advisor.
    • Dissertation: “Visions of Life and Matter: Protoplasm, Scientific Microscopy, and the Origins of Molecular Biology, 1839–1941”
    • Preliminary examination passed on October 12, 2012, in the fields: history of modern biology, history of the physical sciences, and history and philosophy of technology.
    • Ph.D. minor in Department of History, focus on intellectual history.
  • MA: History of Science, Medicine, and Technology. UW-Madison, May 2011. Thesis, “The Shoggoth of Science: Protoplasm and the Biological Disciplines, 1880–1940.”
  • BA: History. Reed College, 2008.


with Mathias Grote, Lisa Onaga, Angela N. H. Creager, Soraya de Chadarevian, Gina Surita, and Sarah E. Tracy, “The Molecular Vista: Current Perspectives on Molecules and Life in the Twentieth Century,” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 43 no. 1 (March 2021), doi:10.1007/s40656-020-00364-5. Peer reviewed, open access

“Scaling from Weather to Climate,” in Weathering, ed. Christoph Holzhey and Arnd Wedemeyer, Cultural Inquiry 17 (ICI Berlin Press, 2020), 93–118.

“The Artificial Cell, the Semipermeable Membrane, and the Life That Never Was, 1864-1901,” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 49, no. 5 (November 2019): 504–555, doi:10.1525/hsns.2019.49.5.504. Peer reviewed.

“Heads and Tails: Molecular Imagination and the Lipid Bilayer, 1917–1941,” in Visions of Cell Biology: Reflections Inspired by Cowdry’s General Cytology, ed. Karl Matlin, Jane Maienschein, and Manfred Laubichler (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018), 209–45. Peer reviewed.

“The Cell and Protoplasm as Container, Object, and Substance, 1835–1861,” Journal of the History of Biology 50, no. 4 (November 2017): 889–925, doi:10.1007/s10739-016-9460-9. Peer reviewed. Winner of the 2020 Everett Mendelsohn Prize for the best article in JHB in the preceding three years, doi:10.1007/s10739-020-09593-7

Essay review, “This Is the Synthetic Biology That Is,” for Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 63 (June 2017): 89–93, doi:10.1016/j.shpsc.2017.03.002. Review of: Sophia Roosth, Synthetic: How Life Got Made (University of Chicago Press, 2017); and Andrew S. Balmer, Katie Bulpin, and Susan Molyneux-Hodgson, Synthetic Biology: A Sociology of Changing Practices (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).

with Amanda DeMarco, “Paul Scheerbart and the Art of Science,” Los Angeles Review of Books, March 18, 2017. https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/paul-scheerbart-and-the-art-of-science/

with Amanda DeMarco, “A Flâneur, But So What?: Franz Hessel and Objectivity in Weimar Berlin,” Los Angeles Review of Books Blog, published June 26, 2017. https:// blog.lareviewofbooks.org/essays/flaneur-franz-hessel-objectivity-weimar-berlin/

Selected presentations, workshops, and invited lectures

Dec 2019: Invited lecture, “Envisioned Matter: Microscopic Imagination and Microtechnique After the Abbe Diffraction Limit, 1874–1939,” University of Regensburg History of Science Colloquium.

July 2019: Idioplasm, Plant Physiology, and the Heroic Age of Cytogenetics, 1858–1892,” part of session “Interfield Theories, Methods, Collaborations and Organization in Heredity,” organized by Marsha Richmond, History of Science Society (HSS) annual meeting, Utrecht.

May 2019: Invited paper, “Positivism vs. Molecular Imagination after the Abbe Diffraction Limit, 1874–1939,” presented at “Milieus of Minutae” conference, hosted by Christiane Frey and Elizabeth Brogden, ICI Berlin.

May 2019: Invited lecture, “Ideas of Life and Matter in the Aftermath of Protoplasm Theory, 1844–1939,” Perspektiven der Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Historisches Seminar der LMU München.

August 2018: Invited lecture, “Dividing Science from Society: Historiographical Problems in the History of the Cell Membrane” (科学与社会的分离: 细胞膜历史中的编史学问题), Tsinghua University Department of the History of Science Lecture Series.

May 2018: with Bonnie Mak, “Data Histories: Devices of Seeing, Describing, and Managing the World,” presented at “The Classroom and the Future of the Historical Record” symposium, School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

March 2018: Invited lecture, “Is it Pluralism, or is it Biophysics? Micellar Theory and the Philosophy of Science, 1858–1938,” Indiana University History and Philosophy of Science Colloquium Series.

November 2017: “How the Artificial Cell Invented the Cell Membrane and Other Colloids, 1864–1935,” History of Science Society annual meeting, Toronto.

August 2017: “Of Micelles and Molecules: Seven Lives of Non-Molecular Theories of Chemical Matter from 1858–1938,” 11th International Conference on the History Chemistry, Trondheim, Norway.

December 2016: “Revisiting the ‘Dark Age of Biocolloidology’: Positivism and Reductionism in Interwar Biophysics,” presented at invited workshop, “New Styles of Thought and Practices in Early 20th Century Biology: Epistemologies and Politics,” Ruhr University Bochum, Germany.

November 2016: “The Biology of the Spherical Horse and the Molecular Orientation of Life, 1917–1941,” History of Science Society annual meeting, San Francisco.

September 2015: “Seeing Cells Again: Molecular Vision at the Centenary of Cell Theory,” public lecture given as part of the “Seeing the Invisible” interdisciplinary series hosted by the UW-Madison Program in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology.

July 2015: “Protoplasmic Structure and the End (?) of Cell Theory, 1882–1899,” International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB), Montreal.

November 2014: Chemical Heritage Foundation Brown Bag Lunch (BBL) public lecture, “Molecules in Biology before Molecular Biology: From Protoplasmic Slime to the Principle of Molecular Repetition,” Philadelphia, PA.

Other Awards and fellowships

2020 Everett Mendelsohn Prize, for the best article published in the Journal of the History of Biology in the preceding three years, for “The Cell and Protoplasm as Container, Object, and Substance, 1835–1861.” (Karen Rader and Marsha Richmond, “2020 Everett Mendelsohn Prize,” Journal of the History of Biology 53, no. 1 (March 2020): 1–3, doi:10.1007/s10739-020-09593-7.)

Chancellor’s Fellowship, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2015–16.

Mellon-Wisconsin Summer Fellowship, 2015, UW-Madison.

John Neu Distinguished Graduate Fellowship, granted by UW-Madison Dept. of History of Science, 2009–10.

Professional activities

Co-organizer with Robert Meunier (Uni-Kassel), workshop “Lab Environments: Spaces of Possibility and Certainty in Scientific Practice,” ICI Berlin, October 18, 2019.

Co-organizer with Rosine Kelz, symposium “Beyond Therapy and Enhancement: Restructuring Ethical Debates on Biotechnological Innovation,” March 30, 2018, hosted by the Biohumanities Research Group, Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities.

Member of organizing committee, American Institute of Physics History Center Early Career Conference, April 6–10, 2016.

Membership Secretary, Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA), UW-Madison graduate assistants’ union (AFT Local 3220, AFL-CIO), 2013–15.