Stefan Bernhardt-Radu

Stefan Bernhardt-Radu


A PhD candidate in the Centre for History and Philosophy of Science, within the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science, I’ve spent my academic career studying history. Before coming to Leeds in 2021, I have studied, amongst others, environmental history at Coventry, and history of medicine at Warwick.

My dissertation, ‘From the laboratory into the field: A cultural history of ecological genetics, Britain 1928-1969’, mainly explores the shaping of the theories in Ecological Genetics (first published in 1964), authored by E.B. Ford. The book is now celebrated to be, on the one hand, a pivotal result of the so-called ‘modern synthesis’ in evolutionary theory (a marriage between Mendelian genetics with Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection), and, on the other hand, the starting point of a new branch of genetics: ‘ecological genetics’. Until then, most of the research done to ascertain how evolution occurred genetically was performed in the laboratory, with little analysis in the field. Ford aimed to correct this, by employing a variety of novel research methods. His book, Ecological Genetics, was mainly a defense of genetical selection in evolution within ‘the wild’, with little support for accidental causes. In other words, genes had to have specific advantages within an environment for organisms to survive, and change across generations. In turn, this was supposed to have wide medical, and thus societal, applications, by seeing how specific traits are genetically bound to certain conditions, surviving together ‘in nature’.

I intend to analyse the variety of social and cultural influences that have formed Ford’s perspective in Ecological Genetics, including how he may have wanted the book to be read, by whom, and why. Drawing from Ford’s private papers in Oxford, the project follows Ford’s thinking from the 1920s, up to the 1960s, to see how a variety of cultural, social, and political occurrences shaped Ford’s theories in Ecological Genetics




  • MA History of Medicine (Warwick)
  • BA History (Coventry)