Jane Maienschein

Who am I?

I am the Director of the Center for Biology and Society, a University Professor, Regents’ Professor, and President’s Professor at Arizona State University. Beginning in 2011, my Arizona State University position expanded to developing collaborative efforts with the MBL, which includes my becoming an MBL Fellow.


What do I do?

With a background in classical embryology, I work on history and philosophy of developmental biology in my scholarly research. In addition, I have worked as science advisor to Congressman Matt Salmon, provided educational seminars for the Federal Judicial Center’s Education Programs, and served as journal editor and president of several professional societies. Science has a major role for the public interest, and my work involves exploring the intersections of life sciences and society. The Embryo Project Encyclopedia involves a seminar every semester that runs as a writer’s workshop and editorial research system that provides an open access publication which receives over 1 million page views a year and is cited by high impact biology journals and used by teachers and the public.

Why do I come to the MBL?

My first experience at the MBL came with a dissertation improvement grant in 1976, to reproduce classic experiments and observations. I fell in love with the place, and, with the Centennial in 1988, began organizing an annual History of Biology seminar with Garland Allen. That special topics course continues, now funded by Arizona State University, and heading toward its 30th year. We have also run a number of other workshops. The MBL’s rich history of innovative ideas, creative people, and stimulating courses provides fascinating examples of science at work. History and Philosophy of Science can help uncover underlying assumptions and probe alternative perspectives in ways that can help make science better.

What do I do/work on at the MBL

Along with our project manager Kate MacCord, I run the MBL History Project, which involves a lab of graduate students from Arizona State University who explore archival materials, conduct interviews, and develop digital exhibits to present MBL history to a broader public. The digital archives include 1000s of photographs, archival materials, and a YouTube channel of interviews with MBL scientists and community members. An NSF grant through the MBL supports this work, along with other foundation grants.

More information:

See Jane’s website: https://sols.asu.edu/people/jane-maienschein

Other related links:

Arizona State University Center for Biology and Society
HPS Repository
History of the Marine Biological Laboratory

Books written by and about the MBL:

Embryos Under the Microscope: Diverging Meanings of Life (Harvard University Press, 2014)

Whose View of Life? Embryos, Cloning, and Stem Cells (Harvard University Press, 2003; paperback 2005. Finalist for Independent Publishers Award). Arabic Translation, 2014

Transforming Traditions in American Developmental Biology (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991)

100 Years Exploring Life. An Autobiography of the Marine Biological Laboratory (Jones and Bartlett Press, 1989) (edited)

Defining Biology. Lectures From the 1890s (Harvard University Press, 1986)