I am a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Program in History of Science, located within the Department of History at Princeton University. Under the supervision of Angela N.H. Creager, I am presently writing my dissertation, which focuses on how neurons came to be conceived as molecular entities whose functions could be described, and explained, using the languages and tools of chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Beginning with the “station movement” of the mid-nineteenth century and continuing to the present, and exploring the work of actors including Emil du Bois-Reymond, Haldan Hartline, Kenneth Cole, Howard Curtis, J.Z. Young, Alan Hodgkin, Andrew Huxley, Theodore Bullock, John Moore, Stephen Kuffler, Francis Schmitt, Ann Stuart, and Eric Kandel, I trace the changing epistemological and material statuses of neurophysiological preparations derived from aquatic organisms, including electric fish, arthropods, crustaceans, and cephalopods (especially squid). In so doing, I am investigating the production of empirical generality and generalizable models from these preparations, paying close attention to how this watery history intersected with the mass entrance of molecular biologists into neurobiology, and with the consolidation of “neuroscience” as a discipline, beginning in the 1960s. For the academic year 2018-2019, I will serve as a McDonnell Foundation Scholar at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, MA, contributing to the McDonnell Initiative promoting collaboration amongst the history and philosophy of science and practicing life scientists. I will cooperate in particular with Dr. Jennifer R. Morgan, examining the history and philosophy of an emerging model organism, the sea lamprey, for neurophysiology and neuronal regeneration.

In Spring 2016, I precepted for HIS294, "What is the Scientific Revolution?" with Prof. Jennifer Rampling. I was also awarded the Mary and Randall Hack '69 Graduate Award from the Princeton Environmental Institute, which supports "innovative research on water or water-related topics."

In Spring 2015, I completed Generals Examination fields with Profs. Angela N.H. Creager (history of modern biology and biomedicine in the West), Katja Guenther (history of medicine and the mind sciences in the West), and Margot Canaday (history of the United States in the 20th century, with a focus on gender and sexuality studies).

From 2010 through 2013, I served as a Research Aide in the Center for Public Genomics (CPG), a Center of Excellence in Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) Research for genomics co-funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute and the Department of Energy. While at the CPG, with Robert Cook-Deegan (now of ASU) and Rachel Ankeny (the University of Adelaide), I led the research for a multi-year project investigating the history and implications of the “Bermuda Principles,” the policies that mandated the release of DNA sequences generated by the Human Genome Project (HGP) onto the Internet within 24 hours. This invigorating work led to several co-authored publications, including in the Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics (2017) and the Journal of the History of Biology (forthcoming 2018), as well as an extensive digital repository of primary sources including interview transcripts and documents. In our joint publications, Ankeny, Cook-Deegan and I have consistently argued that these radical policies for data sharing in the HGP arose directly from norms and strategies first tested within the “community” of C. elegans researchers, and were championed for human genomics in the 1990s by the influential nematode biologists John Sulston and Robert Waterston. Because they proved aspirational and flexible and were often not interpreted literally, moreover, the Bermuda Principles became grant policies for several of the HGP’s government and non-profit funders, and have been extended to further “community resource projects” in biology.

Alongside my dissertation, I maintain active research interests in emerging model organisms in genomics and neuroscience and in the histories of bioluminescence and computing in biology. I have also taught courses on the histories of molecular biology and the Internet, science policy, and neuroscience. Presently, I live in Lafayette, IN with my husband T. Cole Jones, who teaches early American cultural history at Purdue University. But I am frequently back in Princeton, and when I’m not in an archive, writing, or teaching, you can find me running, watching other people run on television, cooking, drinking red Bordeaux and Islay Scotch Whisky, eating chocolate, or flea marketing.

E-mail me, or find me on LinkedIn, Academia.edu, or Twitter (@kmaxnerd). Please get in touch!


Robert Cook-Deegan, Rachel A. Ankeny, and Kathryn Maxson Jones, “Sharing Data to Build a Medical Information Commons: From Bermuda to the Global Alliance,” Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics 2017 18: 389-415.

Jenny Reardon, Rachel A. Ankeny, Jenny Bangham, Katherine W. Darling, Stephen Hilgartner, Kathryn Maxson Jones, Beth Shapiro, Hallam Stevens, and The Genomic Open workshop group, “Bermuda 2.0: Reflections from Santa Cruz,” GigaScience 2016 5(1): 1-4.

Kathryn Maxson Jones, “Biology, Computing, and the History of Molecular Sequencing: From Proteins to DNA, 1945-2000,” review of work by Miguel García-Sancho, New Genetics and Society, published online 16 June 2016.


Kathryn Maxson Jones, Rachel A. Ankeny, and Robert Cook-Deegan, "The Bermuda Triangle: The Pragmatics, Policies, and Principles for Data Sharing in the History of the Human Genome Project," Journal of the History of Biology (forthcoming 2018).

Under review:

Kathryn Maxson Jones, “Neuroscience from Atlantic to Pacific: Francis Schmitt and Squid at the MBL, Montemar, and MIT,” for Karl Matlin, Jane Maienschein, and Rachel A. Ankeny (eds.), From the Beach to the Bench: Why Marine Biological Studies? (under contract, The University of Chicago Press).

In preparation:

Kathryn Maxson Jones, "The Afterglow of Physiology: Edmund Newton Harvey, General Physiology, and Biochemistry at Princeton, 1911-1961."