“Convening Science” Book Series About MBL Launches with “Visions of Cell Biology”

"Convening Science" Book Series About MBL Launches with "Visions of Cell Biology"
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The first fruit of the Convening Science: Discovery at the Marine Biological Laboratory book series, published by University of Chicago Press, was toasted in a recent author’s talk held at the MBLWHOI Library.

“Visions of Cell Biology” is a volume of scientific, historical, and philosophical essays on a field of research that has been intimately tied with the MBL since its founding and remains a core strength. Cell biologist and volume co-editor Karl Matlin of University of Chicago said at the library talk, “Many active cell biologists don’t have a sense of the continuity of the field from its origins. This book provides that perspective.”

The volume grew out of a 2014 gathering of cell biologists, historians, and philosophers at the MBL led by Matlin and MBL Fellow Jane Maienschein of Arizona State University. “Scientists informed the process and a number of the articles in the volume,” said Maienschein, editor of the Convening Science series.

“Visions of Cell Biology” takes as its springboard an earlier survey of the field that was also initiated at MBL: “General Cytology,” published in 1924 with contributions from prominent MBL summer scientists, including E.B. Wilson, Thomas Hunt Morgan, Frank Lillie, E.E. Just and Edwin G. Conklin. (Jacques Loeb was slated to contribute but it appears ill health intervened.) “General Cytology,” edited by Edmund V. Cowdry, “became something of a best seller,” Matlin said. “It became a standard reference of the time.”

For the new volume, the editors and authors used “General Cytology” “to inspire us to think about the study of cells from the microscopic observations of Schleiden and Schwann in the 1830s to the dynamic imaging of living cells today.” Contributors explore the evolution of cell biology from conceptual, technological, and methodological perspectives. For example, MBL scientist Rudolf Oldenbourg discusses the major contributions to light microscopy of MBL Distinguished Scientist Shinya Inoué and places them in context with the technology’s development, both historically and today.

“When we juxtapose the perspectives of scientists, historians, and philosophers on the scientific issues of today and of the past — it makes all of us think differently,” Maienschein said.

Maienschein encouraged MBL-affiliated scientists to explore contributing to the ongoing Convening Science series, which includes planned volumes on marine research, regenerative biology, gene regulatory networks, and other topics that may be proposed. If you are interested in potentially contributing or would like more information on the series, please e-mail Maienschein: maienschein@asu.edu

“Visions of Cell Biology,” edited by Karl Matlin, Jane Maienschein and Manfred Laubichler, is available in the MBL Gift Shop (100 Water Street, Woods Hole), from the MBLWHOI Library, or from University of Chicago Press.

The second book in the series, “The Ark and Beyond,” will be featured in an author’s talk and panel discussion on biodiversity on July 24 at 3:30 PM in the MBLWHOI Library.

Photo Caption: MBL Fellow Jane Maienschein of Arizona State University, editor of the Convening Science book series.