Current Faculty

Karen Rader, Director

Rader, Karen - edited

Karen Rader studies the intellectual, cultural, and social history of the modern life sciences in the United States. She holds degrees in Biology (B.S.) from Loyola College (now Loyola University) in Maryland, and History & Philosophy of Science (M.A. and Ph.D.) from Indiana University.  She has been awarded numerous grants and fellowships -- from the Mellon Foundation (1995-96), the Davis Center for Historical Studies (“Animals and Society”) at Princeton (1996-1997), and the National Science Foundation.  Formerly the Marilyn Simpson Chair of Science and Society (1998-2006) at Sarah Lawrence College, she also held visiting professorships at the University of Oslo and the Institute for Advanced Study, Lancaster University, UK.

Her most recent book, co-authored with Victoria E.M. Cain, is Life on Display: Revolutionizing U.S. Museums of Science and Natural History in the Twentieth Century (University of Chicago Press, 2015) which was awarded the 2015 American Educational Research (AERA) History of Education New Scholar’s Award.  She co-edited (with Liv Emma Thorsen and Adam Dodd) Animals on Display: The Creaturely in Museums, Zoos, and Natural History (Penn State University Press, 2014).  Her first book, Making Mice: Standardizing Animals for American Biomedical Research, 1900-1955 (Princeton University Press, 2004) won a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Book award.  In 2013 she was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Section L (History and Philosophy of Science), cited for “for distinguished contributions to the history of the modern life sciences and for exceptional service to the discipline of the history of science."

Kathryn Shively Meier, Associate Director

Headshot of associate director, Kathryn Shively Meier

Kathryn J. Shively (Meier) researches environmental, medical, and military history in the nineteenth-century United States with a particular focus on the American Civil War. She holds degrees in English with a concentration in poetry (B.A.) from University of California, Berkeley, and in history (M.A. and Ph.D.) from the University of Virginia. She is an associate professor in VCU’s Department of History and formerly taught at the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Her monograph Nature’s Civil War: Common Soldiers and the Environment in 1862 Virginia (University of North Carolina Press, 2013) won the 2014 Wiley-Silver Prize for best first book on the Civil War and the 2011 Edward M. Coffman First-Manuscript Prize awarded by the Society for Military History. The book considers how Civil War soldiers interpreted the environment of war as detrimental to their mental and physical health and combatted this perceived natural enemy. Her current projects include examining the rise of standardized veterinary care in the U.S. military and uncovering the origins of the problematic historical narrative of the Civil War known as the “Lost Cause,” which is still taught in classrooms today. To date she has authored 17 scholarly articles and essays, the most recent of which, “‘Notre devoir envers la science”: Médecines humaine et animale dans la guerre de Sécession, 1861-1865,” appeared in the French social science journal, Le Mouvement Social in 2016 (vol. 257).

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John C. Powers

John Powers studies the history of the chemical arts and sciences in the 17th and 18th centuries, specifically the teaching of chemistry at universities and the relationship between artisanal and academic chemistry. He holds a degree in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University and a Ph.D in History and Philosophy of Science from Indiana University. He has been the recipient of a National Science Foundation Scholar's Award. He is an associate professor in VCU's Department of History, and has formerly taught at Cornell University and the New School University in New York.

His book Inventing Chemistry: Herman Boerhaave and the Reform of the Chemical Arts (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2012) examines the role of pedagogy in transforming chemistry into an academic medical subject at the University of Leiden during the tenure of Herman Boerhaave. His current project focuses on the introduction of thermometry into chemistry and looks at the ways in which the new instrument changed and challenged chemists' traditional knowledge and modes of practice in the 18th century. His first publication from the new project is "Measuring Fire: Herman Boerhaave and the introduction of Thermometry into Chemistry." Osiris, 29 (2014): 158-77. His other notable publications include: "Ars sine arte.' Nicholas Lemery and the End of Alchemy in Eighteenth-Century France," Ambix, 45 (1998): 163-89; "Chemistry Without Principles: Herman Boerhaave on Instruments and Elements" in New Narratives in Eighteenth-Century Chemistry, Lawrence M. Principe, ed (Dordrecht: Springer, 2007), 45-61; and "Leiden Chemistry in Edinburgh: Herman Boerhaave, James Crawford, and Andrew Plummer" in Cradle of Chemistry: The Early Years of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, Robert G. W. Anderson, ed. (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2015), 25-58.

Jorg Matthias Determann

Jorg Matthias Determann

Jorg Determan is a faculty member in the Liberal Arts & Sciences Program at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. He has a Ph.D. in History from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) from the University of London, and Masters of Philosophy degrees in History and Arabic Studies from the University of Vienna. Before coming to VCUQatar, he worked at the Zentrum Moderner Orient, Freie Universitat Berlin, SOAS, University of London, and King Saud University, and was also a visiting scholar at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh. His research interests lie in global history, historiography, the history of science, and the history of the Middle East. His first book is entitled Historiography in Saudi Arabia: Globalization and the State in the Middle East. For his second book, he focused on this history of biology in the Middle East: Researching Biology and Evolution in the Gulf States: Networks of Science in the Middle East (2015). He is currently undertaking research for a third book with the working title: The Arab World's Final Frontier: Transnational Space Science.

Mary Richie photo

Mary Richie McGuire

Mary Richie McGuire is a Ph.D candidate in the Science and Technology Studies Program at Virginia Tech. She is a historian of science and environment whose research examines the connections between ecological, scientific, and political revolutions. Her dissertation, "Translating Natural Knowledge in an Age of Revolution: Tobacco, Science, and the Rights of Man and Nature in Benjamin Henry Latrobe's Virginia Journals 1795-1798," considers tobacco as a bioartifact that acts as a lens through which to view the relationship between science and politics during the American Revoloution. The dissertation, a bioconstitutional history of tobacco in the James River and Potomac River watersheds, argues that the American Revolution as experienced in Virginia was first an ecological revolution that then triggered a scientific and political revolution - a bioconstitutional revolution Latrobe's sketches, watercolors, and journal entries present a view of Virginia's diverse landscape that is both historical and ecological. Her research has been supported by fellowships at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, The American Philosophical Society, the J.D. Rockefeller Library at Colonial Williamsburg and the Maryland Historical Society.

Former Faculty

Marian Moser Jones

Ass't. Professor, 2008-11, VCU L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs
Currently at the University of Maryland, School of Public Health

Marian Moser Jones holds degrees in Public Health (M.P.H.) and Sociomedical Sciences-History, Ethics & Policy (Ph.D.) from Columbia University; and Visual and Envionmental Studies (A.B.) from Harvard College. Jones was awarded a Dolores J. Quinn Fellowship at Columbia's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and won the New York Academy of Medicine Student Essay Prize in the History of Medicine and Public Health in 2007.

Dr. Jones came to VCU in the fall of 2008. She has created and teaches courses on bioethics; American health policy; the science and social context of disasters; and science policy and communication. Jones has co-authored several journal articles on public health ethics and policy, and is the author of Protecting Public Health in New York City: 200 Years of Leadership, a booklet on the history of public health in New York City. Her doctoral dissertation, Confronting Calamity: The American Red Cross and the Politics of Disaster Relief, 1881-1939, traces the emergence of this institution as a central player in emergency health care and humanitarian response. Jones is currently continuing this research, and working on an NIMH-funded project addressing the intertwined histories of homelessness and mental illness policy in New York and Los Angeles.

Before beginning her graduate studies, Jones worked as a journalist. Most recently she served as Editorial Director for Genome Web(, a life sciences news organization; and previously held positions as a health and medical reporter at; an associate editor for Psychology Today Magazine (1997-1998); and a reporter for Lawyers Weekly USA (1992-1995).

Elizabeth (Liz) E. Apple Blue, JD, MA

Adjunct Faculty, 2010-11, VCU L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs
Currently teaching in VCU's Health Administration Graduate Program

Liz Blue is an adjunct faculty member in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs for the 2010-11 school year. Ms. Blue holds degrees in law (JD) from Yale Law School, in bioethics (MA) from the University of Virginia, and in Philosophy (BA) from Yale College, where she graduated summa cum laude with distinction in philosophyAfter graduating from law school, Ms. Blue clerked for two federal judges and practiced law in the litigation department of the Washington, DC office of Jenner & Block. She has taught appellate advocacy at the University of Richmond’s School of Law. Her academic interests and research include the law’s treatment of the human body. She is the author of Redefining Stewardship Over Body Parts, Journal of Law and Health, 21: 75-121 (2007-08).

She served on the Board of the Science Museum of Virginia as a Trustee appointed by Governor Mark Warner where she chaired the Science Education Committee. She also served on the Board of Children’s Health Involving Parents of Richmond and on the Supreme Court of Virginia’s Pandemic Flu Commission. 

Her current research and writing is focused on genetic testing and biobanks, and she is writing a science-fiction mystery novel with bioethics themes.