I am a historian of modern biology and biomedicine, with a research focus on how ideas, experimental materials, and organisms travel between different cultural and political milieus. Originally trained in biology and biochemistry, I entered the field of history of biology with a fascination about the wide-ranging impact of cultural traditions and imaginations on laboratory sciences. My current monograph project, Of Goldfish and Scientists, examines how various fish species, especially the goldfish, became experimental and model organisms in life sciences and aquaculture industry in twentieth-century China. I have also published on the histories of cell death and aging research, reproductive technology, botany and zoology, gene editing, and nutrition science, often attending to the issues of material culture, nation, gender, and folk or craft knowledge. I bring global perspectives gained through research to the classroom and encourage students to form new questions and connections of their own.
History of biology and biomedicine; China and Asia; experimentation, material cultures, and animals in the life sciences; history of food and the environment.
“The Late Ascent of Darwin’s Descent: Exploring Human Evolution between Sex, Biology, and the Chinese Nation, 1927–1957.” Erika Milam and Suman Seth eds. BJHS Themes Special Issue: The Descent of Darwin, forthcoming.
With Vivian Ling, “A Different Kind of Synthesis: Artificial Synthesis of Insulin in Socialist China,” History and Technology, 35: 4 (2019), 453–480.
“Global Epidemiology, Local Message: Sino-American Cooperation on Cancer Research, 1969-1990,” in Patrick Manning and Mat Savelli, eds. Global Transformations in the Life Sciences, 1945–1980 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018), 78–98.
“The Socialist Origins of Artificial Carp Reproduction in Maoist China,” Science, Technology & Society, 22, no. 1 (2017): 59–77.
“The Old, the New and the State in the Making of Modern East Asian Medicine” (essay review), Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 64 (2017): 88–91.
“Retouching the Past with Living Things: Indigenous Species, Tradition, and Biological Research in Republican China, 1918-1937,” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 46, no. 2 (2016): 154–206.
With Hallam Stevens, “Chinese Biotech versus International Ethics? Accounting for the China-America CRISPR Ethical Divide.” BioSocieties 10 (2015), 483–488.
“IVF the Chinese Way: Zhang Lizhu and Post-Mao Human in vitro Fertilization Research,” East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal 9, no. 1 (2015): 23–45.
“Causes of Aging Are Likely to be Many: Robin Holliday and Changing Molecular Approaches to Cell Aging, 1963–1988,” Journal of the History of Biology 47, no. 4 (2014): 547–584.