I am a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Program in History of Science, Department of History. Broadly, I am an historian of the modern biomolecular sciences who gravitates towards studying American and British actors and institutions, and people who have lived and worked in these places. My research and teaching has ranged from Early Modern chymistry and taxonomy to the Human Genome Project. My advisor is Prof. Angela N.H. Creager.

I am presently researching and writing my dissertation, exploring how, why, where, and to what effects neurophysiologists in the twentieth century came to rely so heavily on preparations derived from aquatic organisms, and especially marine invertebrates, in their work. While the majority of my actors are individuals who lived and worked in the United States and Britain from the 1930s through the 1970s, the project is certainly not confined to these places and times. I build on the rich lines of scholarship examining the histories of physiology and marine biology in medical schools (like those at the University of Cambridge, Harvard, Pennsylvania, and The Johns Hopkins University) and marine laboratories (like the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn in Naples and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA) in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, alongside those exploring the characteristics and implications of genetically-standardized model organisms from the 1970s through the 2000s.

One of my goals is to link these historiographic traditions by studying organism choice in the mid-twentieth century, a period under-explored in the history of biology outside of genetics. In so doing, I hope to situate the rise of modern neuroscience within the histories of molecular biology, biochemistry, and biophysics. Protagonists in my work include John Zachary Young, Professor of Anatomy at University College, London from 1945-1974; Francis Otto Schmitt, founder of the Neurosciences Research Program (NRP) at MIT; Theodore Holmes Bullock and Susumu Hagiwara, the two most prominent comparative physiologists of their era at UCLA and UCSD, and the latter, the widely-regarded finest Japanese-born neurophysiologist living by the 1960s and 1970s; and Stephen William Kuffler, who began the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. Their organisms of study included squid, octopuses, horseshoe crabs, lobsters, crayfish, electric fish, and more.

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).

Before coming to Princeton, I completed my B.S. in Biology, summa cum laude, from Duke University (2010). I minored in Chemistry and History and was also the recipient of a Faculty Scholarship. After graduation, I worked for three years as a Research Aide at the NIH-funded Duke Center for Public Genomics, focused on the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) of the Human Genome Project (HGP). Whilst there, with Robert Cook-Deegan (now of Arizona State University, then of Duke) and Rachel A. Ankeny (University of Adelaide), I researched the history of the Bermuda Principles, the policies which required that HGP investigators share their DNA sequences on the Internet within 24 hours. This invigorating and challenging work, which involved dozens of first-person interviews and uncovered new primary source documentation, resulted in a digital archive and several publications, both completed and in process (see below).

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, flea marketing, and spending time with my husband, T. Cole Jones, an early American historian at Purdue University. We live together in Lafayette, IN, but I am frequently back in Princeton.

E-mail me, or find me on LinkedIn, Academia.edu, or Twitter (@kmaxnerd).


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(forthcoming), Review in Advance first posted online on April 17, 2017.

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.

Under review:

Kathryn Maxson Jones, Rachel A. Ankeny, and Robert Cook-Deegan, "The Bermuda Triangle: The Politics, Principles, and Pragmatics of Data Sharing in the History of the Human Genome Project, 1963-2003," Journal of the History of Biology.

In preparation:

Kathryn Maxson Jones, “From Atlantic to Pacific: Francis Schmitt and Squid Neurophysiology at MIT, the MBL, and in Chile,” 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).

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