Professor Gregory Radick

Professor Gregory Radick


I am a historian and philosopher of science specializing in the history of the modern biological and human sciences. Educated in history at Rutgers (BA 1992) and history and philosophy of science at Cambridge (MPhil 1996, PhD 2000), I’ve been at Leeds since 2000, serving as Director of the Centre for History and Philosophy of Science (2006–08) and Director of the Leeds Humanities Research Institute (2014–17).

My books include Disputed Inheritance: The Battle over Mendel and the Future of Biology (Chicago, 2023); The Simian Tongue: The Long Debate about Animal Language (Chicago, 2007), which received the 2010 Suzanne J. Levinson Prize of the History of Science Society for best book in the history of the life sciences and natural history; and, as co-editor, The Cambridge Companion to Darwin (Cambridge, 2003; 2nd edition, 2009).

I’ve held fellowships from the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust, and served as President of the British Society for the History of Science (2014‒16) and the International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology (2019‒21). I write and lecture frequently for general audiences, contributing regularly to the Times Literary Supplement, and have appeared on BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time and in the PBS/National Geographic television series Genius with Stephen Hawking. In 2022 I was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Science Museum Group.

Research interests

I’ve published widely on the history of biology and the human sciences after 1800, with particular emphases on:

  • Darwin and Darwinism
  • genetics and eugenics
  • sciences of mind, language and behaviour

I’ve also pursued more general questions about scientific knowledge, especially to do with:

  • history-of-science counterfactuals (e.g. "What would biology be like now if the Mendelians had not triumphed in the early 20th century?")
  • the organization of scientific knowledge and its cognitive and social consequences (e.g. “What difference does it make if Mendelian patterns are presented to students not as exemplary of how inheritance works but as exceptional?”)
  • intellectual property, narrowly and broadly construed (including ownership grabs by scientific discplines or sub-disciplines, e.g. Mendelian genetics grabbing plant breeding).

My research has been more historical than philosophical, but philosophical questions come up all the time, for me as much as for the people I study.

Recent Publications (Selected) 

Recent Grants (Selected)

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BA Rutgers (History) 1992
  • MPhil Cambridge (HPS) 1996
  • PhD Cambridge (HPS) 2000

Professional memberships

  • British Society for the History of Science
  • History of Science Society
  • International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology

Student education

At Leeds I’ve taught undergraduate modules at all levels, including introductory courses in the history of psychology, the philosophy of psychology, and the philosophy of mind (Level 1); courses in the history of genetics and the reading of scientific texts in their historical contexts (my texts were Darwin’s Descent of Man (1871) and Expression of the  Emotions (1872)) (Level 2); and a seminar in the philosophy of biology (Level 3). 

At Master’s Level I’ve contributed to courses in the history and historiography of modern science, and also run a module on topics in the history and philosophy of biology. 

Above Master’s Level, I regularly supervise research students (MRes, PhD) and postdoctoral researchers, including students taking part in an Erasmus exchange programme I helped to establish with the Philosophy and History of Science department at the Charles University in Prague. I also convene the free online course “History and Philosophy of Science in 20 Objects,” incorporating lectures delivered by Leeds HPS staff and students in 2016–17, and featuring objects from the University’s Museum of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine.

I’d be glad to hear from anyone, at any level, interested in working on topics connected with the research interests outlined above.

PhD students

  • Frank Cui, 2022 – “Byron and Epicureanism.” (Jointly supervised with John Whale)
  • Stefan Bernhardt-Radu, 2021 – “Julian Huxley and Developmental Genetics.” (Faculty funding) 
  • Alex Aylward, PhD 2021 – “Lives and Afterlives of R.A. Fisher's The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection.” (University scholarship, with a pre-doctoral fellowship at the APS Library)
  • Nicola Williams, PhD 2021 – “Biological Research After the Electron Microscope: The Case of Irene Manton FRS,” building on an earlier MRes dissertation with me. (School scholarship; jointly supervised with Graeme Gooday)
  • Clare Coleman, PhD 2021 – “Plant Hybridity Before Mendelism: Diversity and Debate in British Botany, 1837-99.” building on an earlier MRes dissertation with me. (AHRC CDP funding; jointly supervised with Jonathan Topham)
  • Ageliki Lefkaditou, PhD 2021 – “Naturalising the Nation: Physical Anthropology in Greece, 1880s–1950s.” (Partial School funding; currently Senior Curator, Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology, Oslo)
  • Gonzalo Talavera Cabrejo, PhD 2020 – “Max Isserlin (1879–1941) and the Possibilities for Psychiatry in Imperial and Weimar Germany.” (Jointly supervised with Mike Finn)
  • Emily Herring, PhD 2019 – “Philosophical Biology: The Reception of Henri Bergson's Creative Evolution in British Biology.” (University scholarship, with pre-doctoral fellowships from the APS Library and Linda Hall Library; jointly supervised with Laurent Loisin, CNRS, Paris; currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Ghent)
  • Helen Piel, PhD 2019 – “John Maynard Smith and the Fact(s) of Evolution. A Study of Scientific Working Life in Post-War Britain.” (AHRC CDP funding; jointly supervised with Jonathan Pledge, British Library; currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Deutsches Museum, Munich)
  • Mark Steadman, PhD 2019 – “A History of the Scientific Collections of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society's Museum in the Nineteenth Century: Acquiring, Interpreting & Presenting the Natural World in the English Industrial City” (AHRC CDP funding; jointly supervised with Jonathan Topham and Clare Brown, Leeds Museums & Galleries)
  • Matt Holmes, PhD 2017 – “From Biological Revolution to Biotech Age: Plant Biotechnology in British Agriculture since 1950.” (AHRC CDA funding; jointly supervised with Tina Barsby, National Institute of Agricultural Botany; currently postdoctoral fellow at CRASSH, University of Cambridge)
  • Hongjin Liu, PhD 2016 – “Data and the Development of Research Methods in the Science of Human Emotional Expression from Darwin to Klineberg.” (China Scholarship Council funding; currently a postdoctoral fellow at Tsinghua University, China)
  • Rob Meckin, PhD 2016 – “Making Research Translatable: Articulating and Shaping Synthetic Biology in the UK.” (White Rose funding; jointly supervised with Suzanne Molyneux-Hodgson [lead supervisor]; currently a Presidential Fellow at the University of Manchester)
  • Jordan Bartol, PhD 2015 – “Kind Historicism & Biological Ontology.” (University scholarship; jointly supervised with Juha Saatsi)
  • Dominic Berry, PhD 2014 – “Genetics, Statistics, and Regulation at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany, 1919–1969.” (AHRC CDA funding; jointly supervised with Tina Barsby, National Institute of Agricultural Botany; currently a postdoctoral fellow at Birmingham)
  • Juan Manuel Rodriguez Caso, PhD 2014 – “Anthropology in Transition: A Study of the Sciences of Man at the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1866–1870” (CONACYT scholarship; jointly supervised with Jonathan Topham; a postdoctoral fellow at UNAM from 1 August 2019)
  • Emanuele Archetti, PhD 2013 – “Epistemic Horizons in Scientific Inquiry and Debate.” (University funding)
  • Mike Finn, PhD 2012 – “The West Riding Lunatic Asylum and the Making of the Modern Brain Sciences in the Nineteenth Century” (AHRC scholarship; jointly supervised with Adrian Wilson; currently Lecturer in History of Science, University of Leeds)
  • Maurizio Esposito, PhD 2012 – “Between Holism and Reductionism: Organismic Inheritance and the Neo-Kantian Biological Tradition in Britain and the USA, 1890–1940.” (School scholarship; currently Assistant Professor at the Federal University of ABC, São Paulo)
  • Jamie Stark, PhD 2012 – “Industrial Illness in Cultural Context: La Maladie de Bradford in Local, National and Global Settings, 1878–1919.” (AHRC CDA funding; jointly supervised with Adrian Wilson and Monty Losowsky, Thackray Museum; currently Professor of Medical Humanities, University of Leeds)
  • Berris Charnley, PhD 2012 – “Agricultural Science, Plant Breeding and the Emergence of a Mendelian System in Britain, 1880–1930.” (AHRC project funding; jointly supervised with Graeme Gooday; after postdoctoral fellowships at Exeter, Griffiths and Oxford, currently a Visiting Fellow at Leeds)
  • Efram Sera-Shriar, PhD 2011 – “Beyond the Armchair: Early Observational Practices and the Making of British Anthropology, 1813–1871” (School funding; jointly supervised with Jonathan Topham; currently Research Grants Manager & Museum Research Fellow, Science Museum Group)
  • Chris Renwick, PhD. 2009 – “The British Debate about the Identity of Sociology 1876–1908.” (AHRC scholarship; jointly supervised with Graeme Gooday; currently Senior Lecturer in Modern History, University of York)
  • Shane Glackin, 2008 – “The Role of the Fact/Value Distinction in Modern Moral Life.” (AHRC scholarship; jointly supervised with Mark Nelson and then Chris Megone; currently Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Exeter)

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for History and Philosophy of Science
  • History and Philosophy of Science

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>