Postdoctoral Fellowship: Using Informatics to Advance History and Philosophy of Science Research

Project: Research project


This proposal for a professional development fellowship, Using informatics to advance history and philosophy of science research is designed to address simultaneously the need of acquiring additional professional experience in informatics in order to advance research in the history and philosophy of science (HPS) and to open up new areas of research and investigation at the intersection of these two areas. As more and more texts, images, and archival sources become available in digital form, history and philosophy of science, and the humanities more generally, are now experiencing a transformation similar to the life sciences during the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century. While these trends are inevitable, researchers in these areas are illprepared to take advantage of the new opportunities or to shape the future development of relevant parts of the emerging new cyber-infrastructure. The post-docs training has been in both the life sciences and history and philosophy of science with a solid foundation in informatics, thus he is in a position to benefit from professional development and training in areas of bioinformatics and computational social sciences and humanities. Working as a post-doc on a large HPS project, the NSF-funded Embryo Project (, has given him a unique perspective on the possibilities and challenges of the upcoming digital era in HPS. With the fellowship he will acquire new skills in ontology development, database management, digital workbench development and management, issues of standardization and platform compatibility, query design, and semantic web applications. Splitting the training period into two phases will enable him to test and implement his newly acquired skills in the context of the Embryo Project. Thus, the intellectual merit of this professional development fellowship is that it is not only confined to learning new skills, but will also serve as a research project in that area as the post-doc will be able to test and evaluate newly developed ontologies, queries, and data mining tools for HPS in the context of an existing project. The broader impacts of this professional training fellowship go beyond supporting research in the history and philosophy of science as the tools and techniques developed will contribute substantially to the digital humanities at large. History and philosophy of biology is a perfect starting point for work in those areas as it bridges the life sciences and the humanities. It is thus an ideal meeting place where the scholarly expertise of the latter can productively interact with the technological and informatics expertise of the former. By emphasizing these bridges we will not only share technical knowledge but also contribute to a better mutual understanding between the humanities and sciences. In addition, such a new digital infrastructure will substantially broaden the reach of HPS and humanities research. As the experiences with the Embryo Project Encyclopedia show, the possibilities of presenting HPS related results and information to a multitude of different user groups has enormous educational and outreach possibilities. But it also depends on a substantially developed cyber-infrastructure to deliver this scholarly content to its intended audiences of students of all ages, policy makers, judges, and the interested public at large.tyle="
Effective start/end date9/15/098/31/12


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $84,066.00


history of science
philosophy of science
life sciences
professional experience
research project
social science