Helen Piel

Profile

PhD, History and Philosophy of Science

My PhD research is a collaborative project between the University of Leeds and the British Library. I am looking at the archive of the British evolutionary biologist John Maynard Smith (1920-2004), and focus in particular on science communication against the backdrop of the history of twentieth-century evolutionary biology.

Previously I have worked on the Dutch Nobel Laureate Peter Debye (1884-1966) and his time at the Physics Institute of the University of Leipzig from the mid-1920s to the mid-1930s.

 

Research interests

History and Philosophy of Science; Science Communication; Evolutionary Biology; Science and Literature; Science and Religion; STS

Publications

Bollebakker, S. and Piel, H. (2016). Towards a Robotic Dystopia? Replacing Animal Companions with Technology in Science and Fiction. Digressions 2(1), 16-29.

Piel, H. (2014). Knowledge Transmission: Context, Techniques and Control – An Examination of Joachim Heinrich Campe's 'Entdeckung von Amerika' as a Philanthropinist Book for Young Readers. In Student Research Conference 2014. Paper presented at Student Research Conference 2014, 26 November 2014, Delft, The Netherlands (pp.87-90).

Piel, H. (2014). Cornelius de Pauw and the Degenerate Americas. In E. Homburg and A. Klijn (eds.). Encountering ‘the Other’. Travel Books on North-America, Japan and China from the Maastricht  Jesuit Library, 1500-1900 (pp.73-93). (MaRBLe Research Reports). Maastricht: Maastricht University.

Piel, H. (2014). Travel Treasures. In E. Homburg and A. Klijn (eds.). Encountering ‘the Other’. Travel Books on North-America, Japan and China from the Maastricht Jesuit Library, 1500-1900 (pp.7-9). (MaRBLe Research Reports). Maastricht: Maastricht University.
 

Conference Presentations & Talks

Forthcoming: Talk at the British Library's Doctoral Open Day, January 2019 (Boston Spa, UK).

Forthcoming: John Maynard Smith in Conflict and Collaboration: Intellectual Property, Priority Claims, and the Genesis of Scientific Ideas. - European Society for the History of Science Conference 2018, September 2018 (London, UK).

Bringing Science Home - Evolutionary Biologist John Maynard Smith as a Broadcaster. - British Society for the History of Science Postgraduate Conference 2018, April 2018 (Manchester, UK).

Bringing the Science of Evolution and its Implications Home: John Maynard Smith as a Broadcaster. - University of Leeds HPS Work-in-Progress Seminar, October 2017 (Leeds, UK).

Genetics in Popular Science: How John Maynard Smith Presents a Unified, Neo-Darwinian Theory of Evolution 100 Years After Darwin. - British Society for the History of Science Annual Conference 2017, July 2017 (York, UK).

The Archive of Evolutionary Biologist John Maynard Smith. - Researching Born-Digital Archives Workshop, March 2017 (London, UK).

"Johann Sebastian Superstar" - How Media Create and Consolidate the Image of the Musical Genius. Part of Recreating Musical Cultures of the Past for the 21st Century (group presentation). - 'Bending Baroque' Symposium, June 2015 (Amsterdam, The Netherlands). [see also the accompanying exposition in the Research Catalogue]

Knowledge Transmission: Context, Techniques and Control – An Examination of Joachim Heinrich Campe’s ‘Entdeckung von Amerika’ as a Philanthropinist Book for Young Readers. - Student Research Conference 2014, November 2014 (Delft, The Netherlands).
 

Public Engagement

Blogs & Podcasts
Forthcoming? Case Study for the website of the British Library.

Forthcoming: "Dear John": The 'Kin Selection' Controversy. Podcast based on the performance at the British Library from May 2018.

Senior Statesman of British Biology: John Maynard Smith. Untold Lives Blog, The British Library, 8 May 2018.

'Most distinguished Darwinian since Darwin': William D. Hamilton. Untold Lives Blog, The British Library, 30 April 2018.

Calculating Kindness: George Price. Untold Lives Blog, The British Library, 23 April 2018.

Did Man Get Here by Evolution or by Creation? Science Blog, The British Library, 13 March 2018.

Local Heroes: John Maynard Smith (1920-2004): A good "puzzle-solver" with an "accidental career". Science Blog, The British Library, 15 March 2017.

Events & Talks

Forthcoming: Talk for the British Library's "Feed the Mind" series: "Evolutionist Maynard Smith on Science and Religion". The British Library, 12 November 2018.

"Dear John": The 'Kin Selection' Controversy. Sold out performance in collaboration with Undercurrent Theatre. The British Library, 11 May 2018.

Astbury Camera, or 'From Dark Satanic Mills to DNA' - with Dr Kersten Hall. Lecture 11 in the "History and Philosophy of Science in 20 Objects" Lecture Series. University of Leeds, 24 January 2017.

 

Awards, Scholarships & Grants

WRoCAH Student Led Event funding to provide catering for a one-day workshop on studying the 20th-century history of science, technology and medicine, organised together with Emmeline Ledgerwood (University of Leicester, British Library) and Linda Ross (University of the Highlands and Islands, Historic Environment Scotland), 2018

University of Leeds OD&PL funding to organise a workshop on "Interdisciplinary perspectives on ecology and evolution", together with Arthur Carlyle (PRHS), Leonardo Miele and Robert West (both School of Mathematics), 2018

AHRC CDP Student Led Activities Fund to organise a workshop on studying the 20th-century history of science, technology and medicine, together with Emmeline Ledgerwood (University of Leicester, British Library) and Linda Ross (University of the Highlands and Islands, Historic Environment Scotland), 2018

AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership, 2016-2019

Undergraduate Awards, Highly Commended Entry in the category "Gender Studies & Anthropology" (for Cultural Domains Interrelated - A Re-Examination of the Relationship between Religion and Technology), 2014

Maastricht University, Jesuit Collection Thesis Award (for Cornelius de Pauw and the Degenerate Americas; see also the press coverage in the Observant [in Dutch]), 2013
 

Teaching

Semester 1, 2017-2018: tutoring and marking on the Level 1 module 'Darwin, Germs and the Bomb'

Semester 2, 2017-2018: tutoring and marking on the Level 1 module 'Magic, Science and Religion'

Qualifications

  • MSc (research) in Cultures of Arts, Science and Technology (Cum Laude), Maastricht University (2016)
  • BA in Arts and Culture, Maastricht University (2014)