I am a seventh-year Ph.D. candidate in the Program in History of Science, located within the Department of History at Princeton University. Under the supervision of Prof. Angela N.H. Creager, I am writing my dissertation, which focuses on how experimentation with aquatic organisms, and especially marine invertebrates, constructed the single nerve cell--the neuron--as a physiological unit across the twentieth century. Exploring the work of actors including Haldan Hartline, Kenneth Cole, J.Z. Young, Alan Hodgkin, Ruth Hubbard, George Wald, Theodore Bullock, Susumu Hagiwara, John Moore, Toshio Narahashi, Stephen Kuffler, Edward Kravitz, Francis Schmitt, Ann Stuart, and Eric Kandel, I trace the changing epistemological and material statuses of physiological preparations derived from the neurons of aquatic organisms, including electric fish, arthropods, crustaceans, and cephalopods (especially squid). In so doing, I pay close attention to how the history of marine biology intersected with the entrance of molecular biologists into neurobiology; how the various neurosciences consolidated into a coherent discipline; and how the diversity of aquatic species these individuals studied contributed to generalizable models of neurons and neural networks.

For the academic year 2018-2019, I served as a James S. 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 in studies of regeneration across complex living systems. With the Program Administrator Dr. Kate MacCord, I continue to help coordinate the five McDonnell Initiatve Working Groups, which focus on stem cell, germ line, neuron, microbial community, and ecosystem regeneration. In particular, I run the Neuron Regeneration group with Dr. Jennifer R. Morgan (Eugene Bell Center for Regenerative Biology and Tissue Engineering), and together we are examining the history and philosophy of an emerging model organism, the sea lamprey, for neurophysiology and neuronal regeneration. Other members of the Neuron Regeneration working group include Drs. Fabio de Sio (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf) and Pamela Imperadore (Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Naples).

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 (Online First in 2018, forthcoming in print in 2019), 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. 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!


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 2018 51(4): 693-805, available Online First and Open Access as of 02 November 2018.

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(1): 389-415.

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 2017 36(4): 406-408.

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.

Under revision/under contract:

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, forthcoming 2019).

Submitted for publication:

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