PhD research

My PhD thesis explores the history of microscopy in the mid- and late nineteenth century. I look at how people using microscopes on both sides of the Atlantic managed to work together despite their different backgrounds and different levels of scientific training. This question is gaining new relevance today, as a growing number of citizen science projects encourage lay participation in science, technology and medicine. Moreover, learners of microscopy were often geographically isolated and could not meet in person. My thesis asks how they still managed to learn microscopy together, using chain-letters systems and periodicals as an early form of “remote learning”.

As part of my PhD research, I invited citizen scientists to investigate nineteenth-century microscopy publications (Worlds of Wonder). I asked them to help identify and classify illustrations in microscopy books and journals. Now I use the collected data to trace networks of historical scientific illustrators, engravers and printers, make illustrations searchable, and contribute names of illustrators to the Database of Scientific Illustrators.

My PhD supervisors are Cyrus Mody (Maastricht University), Raf De Bont (Maastricht University) and Stefanie Gänger (Universität Heidelberg).

This network draws on data of the Worlds of Wonder project. It shows collaborations among microscopy illustrators, engravers and printers.

Selected publications

Robinson, S., Baumhammer, M., Beiermann, L., Belteki, D., Chambers, A. C., Gibbons, K., Guimont, E., et al. (2020). Innovation in a crisis: rethinking conferences and scholarship in a pandemic and climate emergency. The British Journal for the History of Science, 1–16.

Beiermann, L., & Wesseling, E. (2020). Physiology and Philhellenism in the Late Nineteenth Century: The Self-Fashioning of Emil du Bois-Reymond. Science in Context, 33(1).

Selected conference presentations

February 13, 2020: “Collecting the Collectors? The Microscopic Preparations of the Postal Micro-Cabinet Club” (Berlin, GER: Museum für Naturkunde workshop on Logistical Natures: Trade, Traffic, and Transformations in Natural History Collecting)

June 7, 2019: “Worlds of Wonder: Tracing Reproductions of Microscopy Illustrations in the Nineteenth Century” (Philadelphia, PA: American Philosophical Society workshop on Networks: The Creation and Circulation of Knowledge from Franklin to Facebook)

February 15, 2019: “’A New World of Observation’: Microscopists, Matter and Media, ca. 1850–1900” (Kerkrade, NL: Rolduc 2019 History of Science and Humanities PhD Conference)

June 15, 2018: “Physiology and Philhellenism in Nineteenth-century Prussia: The Self-fashioning of Emil du Bois-Reymond” (Leicester, UK: ConSciCom workshop on Self-Fashioning Scientific Identities in the Long Nineteenth Century)