Dr Jon Topham

Dr Jon Topham


I joined the School in 1999, initially as an AHRB Senior Research Fellow on the Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical (SciPer) Project.  In 2005 I was appointed as a Lecturer in History of Science, and in 2007 I was promoted to Senior Lecturer.

I obtained my PhD in History from the University of Lancaster (1993), having previously graduated in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge (1987).  Before moving to Leeds I held several research fellowshipsand worked as an editor on the Darwin Correspondence Project in the University of Cambridge.


  • Deputy-Director, Centre for the Comparative History of Print

Research interests

My research relates mainly to the cultural history of science in late Georgian Britain.

One particular focus of my research is on the history of scientific communication, drawing on the historiography of the book. Among my co-publications are Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: Reading the Magazine of Nature (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and Culture and Science in the Nineteenth-Century Media (Ashgate, 2004).  I am currently researching a monograph on Publishing Science in the Age of Revolutions, 1789-1832.

I also maintain a major research focus on science and religion in Regency and Victorian society, particularly in regard to natural theology and theologies of nature. I am currently completing a monograph entitled the Reading the Book of Nature: Science, Religion and the Culture of Print in the Age of Reform.

Current projects

  • Academic Consultant, Constructing Scientific Communities: Citizen Science in the 19th and 21st Centuries

Recent talks

  • 'Victorian Printing Press', Public Lecture, HPS in 20 Objects, University of Leeds, 19 September 2017.

  • 'Biblical Herbarium', Public Lecture, HPS in 20 Objects, University of Leeds, 27 September 2016.

  • 'Biology in the service of Natural Theology', Seminar, Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, University of Cambridge, 9 February 2010.

Editorial commitments

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


  • Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching for Higher Education
  • PhD History
  • MA Natural Sciences

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • History of Science Society
  • British Society for the History of Science
  • Society for the History of Authorship, Readership, and Publishing

Student education

Programme management
I am programme manager for all PRHS courses involving History, Politics, Biology, or Physics, and I am link tutor for all PRHS courses involving languages. I am subject lead for History and Philosophy of Science.

Taught course teaching
I teach a range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules relating to the history of modern science, drawing on my research expertise concerning science in nineteenth-century Britain (including the history of evolution) and concerning history of science communication. I also teach MA students about different approaches to history (historiography) and about the practice of historical research.

Research supervision
I have supervised more than 20 research students over the last 15 years. I am especially keen to supervise students working in the following areas:

  • Science, technology, and medicine in periodicals and newspapers, esp. 1750-1850
  • Scientific and medical authorship, reading, and publishing, esp. 1750-1850
  • Scientific and medical education and textbooks, esp. 1750-1850
  • Science and religion, esp. natural theology and theologies of nature

Current research students

  • Polina Merkulova, ‘Pedagogy and the Building of British Psychiatry, 1870–1930’ (jointly supervised with Mike Finn).
  • Caroline Avery. 'Making the Pulse: the Reception of the Stethoscope in nineteenth century Britain, 1817–70, (2016–; jointly supervised with Adrian Wilson and Oisin Wall).
  • Richard Bellis, 'The Making of Matthew Baillie’s Morbid Anatomy and Its Accompanying Engravings: How Eighteenth-Century Anatomical Knowledge Was Made from the Dissection Table to the Printed Work' (2015–; jointly supervised with Adrian Wilson and Richard Checketts).
  • Claire O'Reilly, 'From Artificial Aberration to Natural Entity: The Changing Status of Plant Hybrids in Biological Theorising and Breeding Practices in Britain, 1830-1930' (2015–; jointly supervised with Greg Radick).
  • Konstantin Kiprijanov, 'Printing Molecules. How Structural Formulae became Part of the Modern Language of Chemistry' (2015–; jointly supervised with Graeme Gooday).
  • Jincheng Shi, 'Pantheism and Science in Victorian Britain' (2014–; jointly supervised with Geoffrey Cantor and Chris Kenny).
  • Jo Elcoat, 'Reading the schoolbook: Science education in Private Schools in England, 1760 to 1800' (2011–).
  • Mark Steadman, 'A History of the Scientific Collections of the Leeds Museum, 1819–1921: Acquiring, Interpreting and Presenting the Natural World in the English Industrial City' (2007–; jointly supervised with Greg Radick).

Completed research students

  • Laura Sellers, 'Managing Convicts, Understanding Criminals: Medicine and the Development of the English Convict Prison 1837-1886' (2017 award; jointly supervised with Mike Finn).
  • Alan Mackintosh, 'The Potency of Print: Selling Patent Medicines in Late Georgian England' (2015 award; jointly supervised with Adrian Wilson).
  • Rebecca Bowd, 'The Purposes of Reading in Late Georgian Britain: Science, Medicine, Industry, and Intellectual Culture in Leeds Subscription Libraries, 1768-1815' (2015 award; jointly supervised with Adrian Wilson).
  • Juan Manuel Rodriguez Caso, 'Anthropology in Transition: A Study of the Sciences of Man at the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1866–1870' (2014 award; jointly supervised with Greg Radick).
  • Archana Kapoor, A 'New World' in the 'New World': The Microscope in America (MA by Research, 2014 award; jointly supervised with Graeme Gooday).
  • Efram Sera-Shriar, 'Beyond the Armchair: Early Observational Practices and the Making of British Anthropology, 1813–1871' (2011 award; jointly supervised with Greg Radick).
  • Claire Jones, 'Between Commerce and Professionalism: The Form, Role and Significance of the Medical Trade Catalogue in Britain, 1880–1914' (2010 award; jointly supervised with Graeme Gooday).
  • Leucha Veneer, 'Practical and Economic Interests in the Making of Geology in Late Georgian England' (2010 award; jointly supervised with John Christie).
  • Josep Simon, 'Communicating Physics in Nineteenth-Century France and England: The Production, Distribution and Use of Ganot's Textbooks' (2009 award; jointly supervised with Graeme Gooday).

Visiting PhD students

  • Lachlan Meikle (2016), ‘Imagination and Experience in English Historical and Geological scholarship, 1735–1859’ (Department of History, La Trobe University, Melbourne).
  • Fernando García Naharro (2014), ‘Science Publishing during Franco´s Dictatorship (1939–1975)’ (Department of Contemporary History, Complutense University of Madrid, 2016 award).
  • Thomas Palmelund Johansen (2013), ‘“Useful knowledge” and the Legitimisation of Machinery: A Study of the Transition to Early Modern Industrial Society, England 1823–1851’ (Dept of History of Ideas &Scandinavian Literature, Aarhus University).
  • Stine Slot Grumsen (2007–08), ‘Casting for Good Will: Profession, Trade and Identity in American Dentistry, c. 1910–1950’ (Department of Culture and Society, Aarhus University, 2012 award).

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for History and Philosophy of Science

Current postgraduate research students

<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="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/research-opportunities">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>