About me

I am Professor Emeritus at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and PollyPortraitTechnology (IHPST), University of Toronto. I taught undergraduate courses through IHPST, and through the Department of Zoology, from 1969 to 2004, on the history of evolutionary biology, and graduate courses on the history of biology, history of systematics, and historiography.

I grew up at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, in the town of Hull, Massachusetts, where I enjoyed exploring the tide pools. All my schooling was in the adjacent town of Cohasset. My undergraduate studies at Harvard (Radcliffe College) was in “History and Science,” consisting of courses in biology, in history, and in the history of science, plus a thesis in the fourth year, 1961, supervised by Everett Mendelsohn. (The gist of that thesis was published in 1987, “Robert Wallace.”)  In late high school and early college during the summer I worked in the Mollusk Department of the Museum of Comparative Zoology in Harvard, under William Clench and Ruth Turner. Summers in college and early graduate school I worked at the Marine Biological Laboratory and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, under Howard Sanders and Robert Hessler. My doctoral work was in the Department of the History of Science and Medicine at Yale University from 1965 to 1969. My mentors there included Derek J. deSolla Price, Leonard Wilson, Frederick L. Holmes, and Asger Aaboe. My doctoral dissertation, completed in 1971, was published in 1976 as Starfish, Jellyfish, and the Order of Life.

I became a citizen of Canada in 1977.  I was Director of IHPST from 1986 to 1991; I was President of the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science from 1990 to 1993. Among my graduate students were Peter Bowler, Sharon Kingsland, and Gordon McOuat.