Joris Mercelis

Assistant Professor

Gilman 367
410-516-4485
jmercelis@jhu.edu

I am a historian of nineteenth- and twentieth-century century technology in Europe and the United States with a broad research interest in the relationships between technology, science, and industry. Much of my work has dealt with opportunities and tensions generated by the real or perceived economic potential of technological and scientific knowledge, especially in the fields of chemistry and photography. My first book, ‘Father of Plastics’: Leo H. Baekeland (1863-1944) and the Science-Industry Nexus (forthcoming, MIT Press), adopts a transatlantic biographical perspective, centered on issues of intellectual property and scientific entrepreneurship, to interpret the transformation of science-industry connections and interdependencies at the time of the second industrial revolution. It demonstrates how Bakelite inventor Leo Baekeland’s gradually acquired skill in crossing boundaries between the scientific and economic spheres, with the aim of securing the highest possible level of intellectual property, contributed to his status as “father of plastics.” I have also recently co-edited two special journal issues on related themes, “Commercializing Science: Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Academic Scientists as Consultants, Patentees, and Entrepreneurs” (History and Technology, 2017) and “Academic Entrepreneurship and Institutional Change in Historical Perspective” (Management and Organizational History, 2017). My current research projects concern the internationalization of industrial research since the late nineteenth century and the roles of openness and secrecy in the historical development of photographic technology.

I hold an M.A. in history from the University of Leuven (2007) and a Ph.D. in history from Ghent University (2013). Before joining Johns Hopkins in the summer of 2015, I was a postdoctoral research fellow at the German Historical Institute-Washington (2013) and at Ghent University (2013-15). My work has also been supported by the Smithsonian Institution (National Museum of American History and Lemelson Center), the Science History Institute, and the Hagley Museum and Library.

Book

‘Father of Plastics’: Leo H. Baekeland (1863-1944) and the Science-Industry Nexus (forthcoming, MIT Press).

Edited journal issues

(With G. Galvez-Behar and A. Guagnini) “Commercializing Science: Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Academic Scientists as Consultants, Patentees, and Entrepreneurs,” History and Technology 33, 1 (2017): 4-151.

(With D. Wadhwani, G. Galvez-Behar and A. Guagnini) “Academic Entrepreneurship and Institutional Change in Historical Pespective,” Management & Organizational History 12, 3 (2017): 175-303.

Journal articles

(With G. Galvez-Behar and A. Guagnini), “Introduction: Commercializing Science: Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Academic Scientists as Consultants, Patentees, and Entrepreneurs,” History and Technology 33, 1 (2017): 4-22. https://doi.org/10.1080/07341512.2017.1342308

(With D. Wadhwani, G. Galvez-Behar and A. Guagnini) “Academic Entrepreneurship and Institutional Change in Historical Perspective,” Management & Organizational History 12, 3 (2017): 175-98. https://doi.org/10.1080/17449359.2017.1359903

“Commercializing Academic Knowledge and Reputation in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries: Photography and Beyond,” History and Technology 33, 1 (2017): 23-52. https://doi.org/10.1080/07341512.2017.1338553

“Corporate Secrecy and Intellectual Property in the Chemical Industry through a Transatlantic Lens, c.1860-1930,” Entreprises et histoire, 2016/1: 32-46.

“Learning from Entrepreneurial Failure: Leo Baekeland’s Exit from Europe,” Journal of Belgian History 43, 4 (2013): 46-79.

“Leo Baekeland’s Transatlantic Struggle for Bakelite: Patenting Inside and Outside of America,” Technology and Culture 53 (2012): 366-400. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/476809

Book chapters

(With S. Leslie) “A Nucleus for a New Europe,” in World’s Fairs in the Era of the Cold War, edited by Art Molella and Scott Knowles (under review, University of Pittsburgh Press).

“Edward Mallinckrodt Sr.,” in Immigrant Entrepreneurship: The German-American Business Biography, 1720 to the Present. Vol. 3, Giles Hoyt ed., Washington, DC: German Historical Institute, 2015 (available at www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org).

“Plastics,” in Discoveries in Modern Science: Exploration, Invention, Technology, James Trefil ed., 867–70, Farmington Hills: MacMillan, 2015.

“The Photographic Paper that Made Leo Baekeland’s Reputation: Entrepreneurial Incentives for Not Patenting,” in Knowledge Management and Intellectual Property: Concepts, Actors and Practices from the Past to the Present, edited by Stathis Arapostathis and Graham Dutfield, 62-83, Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2013.

“Jacob Hasslacher,” in Immigrant Entrepreneurship: The German-American Business Biography, 1720 to the Present. Vol. 3, Giles Hoyt ed., Washington, DC: German Historical Institute, 2013 (available at www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org).