Current Postdoctoral Fellows
Lakshmi Krishnan, MD, PhD
Lakshmi Krishnan earned her MD from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and her DPhil (PhD.) in English Literature from the University of Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. Her dissertation was on the transgressive poetics and prose practices of Victorian poet A.C. Swinburne and his relationship to genre. She completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Duke University, where she was also a Faculty Affiliate at the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities, & History of Medicine. She is currently a fellow in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Institute of History of Medicine. Additionally, she practices as a hospitalist on the Johns Hopkins Hospital Inpatient Service.
Lakshmi is writing a cultural and intellectual history of diagnosis and detective practices that takes place in the 150 years leading up to World War II in the Anglo-American context, a period formative for contemporary Western medicine. It uses detective practices as an analytic framework, and examines detection and diagnosis as interpretive methods which dovetail at critical historical moments. Her book covers texts ranging from the detective stories of Edgar Allan Poe to American doctors training in the Paris Clinics, the Gothic genre and alternative views of the diagnostic imagination in England, curricula of early forensic medicine courses at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Golden Age and Harlem Renaissance detective stories written between World War I and World War II. This work has clinical relevance in responding to emerging disease or medical mystery on a global scale, the diagnostic process in the face of new technologies, and the immediate problem of diagnostic error in clinical practice.
More broadly, she is engaged with the relationship between medicine and the humanities writ large and the ways in which this interaction can expand the analytic reach of both fields. Her research emphasizes deploying the tools of literary and historical criticism to examine medical issues, and developing an interpretive framework for a future-oriented medical humanities. She is particularly interested in the ways in which such transdisciplinary work can broaden the canon and give voice to the unvoiced in medical, literary, and historical contexts.
Her literary and medical humanities writing has appeared in Modern Language Review, Victorian Literature and Culture, Victorian Poetry, Journal of Brontë Studies, and The Lancet, among others.
Michael Shiyung Liu, PhD
Michael earned his Ph.D. in 2000 from the University of Pittsburgh. He has been Visiting Scholar at National Yokoham University; Harvard-Yenching Scholar; Visiting Professor of Chun-Chiu Lecture at Oregon State University; EU Erasmus Mundus Masters Scholar; and Senior Researcher at the Center of Historical Research, Ohio State University. Michael is currently Research Fellow/Professor of the Institute of Taiwan History and Joint Research Fellow of the Research Center of Humanity and Social Science, Academia Sinica.
He has published Prescribing Colonization: the Role of Medical Practice and Policy in Japan-Ruled Taiwan, 1895-1945 (2009) and Katana and Lancet: The Transformation, Assimilation and Diffusion of Western Medicine in Japan (2012; in Chinese) along with 40-plus articles. Michael’s research covers Japanese colonial medicine, East Asian history of public health in the twentieth century, and East Asian environmental history. He is researching the international health network in Cold War East Asia at JHU between 2016 and 2017.
Current Visiting Scholars
Svein Atle Skålevåg, PhD
Svein Atle Skålevåg is a professor in history of sciences at the University of Bergen, Norway, with an interest in the historical epistemology of medicine. He is interested in the history of psychiatry and more generally in the social and cultural history of medical knowledge of man and society. He has written on the history of psychiatric knowledge as it emerges in texts from medical practice, such a s case notes and expert reports. He also has an enduring interest in medicine, law and literature.
The last few years he has worked on the history of forensic psychiatry, the topic of a book published in 2016 (Utilregnelighet. En historie om rett og medisin). Currently he is working on the biomedicalization of psychiatry in the 20th century, especially as this relates to psychiatry as a forensic expertise.
Former Postdoctoral Fellows and Visiting Scholars
Rebecca Wilbanks, PhD
Rebecca received her PhD in 2017 from Stanford’s Program in Modern Thought and Literature, and holds a BA summa cum laude in comparative literature and biological sciences from Cornell University. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of the History of Medicine, and a Hecht-Levi fellow at the Berman Institute of Bioethics. Addressing the intersection of science and culture, her work engages literary studies, science and technology studies, the history and philosophy of science, technology, and medicine, and the environmental humanities.
Her dissertation and current book project, “Synthetic Biology and Life’s Imagined Futures” charts the movement of narratives about creating and modifying life from science fiction to scientific practice and back. In doing so, it demonstrates the concrete effects of future fictions on the development of the field of synthetic biology and related efforts by self-described “biohackers” to extend the tools of the field to non-professionals. In this analysis, science fiction provides both legitimizing myths for biotechnology’s political economy as well as alternative modes of co-producing new life forms with forms of social order.
At Hopkins, she is excited to join other Bioethics and History of Medicine colleagues at the Center for Bridging Infectious Disease, Genomics, and Society (BRIDGES), where her work focuses on applications of gene editing technologies to fight infectious disease (for example, through the genetic modification and release of disease vectors such as mosquitoes). How have discussions about modifying either human bodies or other species to combat infectious disease evolved since the mid-twentieth century? How have the implications of genetic modification on our relationship with our own bodies and the environment been explored in science fiction and other narrative forms? What kinds of governance and public engagement are adequate to the development and deployment of technologies such as gene drives in a transnational context?
Debjani Das, PhD
Debjani earned her PhD from Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India. Her research interest includes social history of medicine in colonial India, particularly, history of psychiatry during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her doctoral research was on Insanity and Asylums of Bengal Presidency in the Nineteenth Century. Her book entitled Houses of Madness: Insanity and Asylums of Bengal in Nineteenth Century India was published from Oxford University Press, India in 2015. She teaches in the Department of History, Vidyasagar University, Paschim Medinipur, India.
Debjani Das has got Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Award (Research), 2017. Presently, she is researching on the Transnational History of Psychiatry in the Twentieth Century: Indo-US relation. She is looking at medical knowledge exchanges between Indian and US psychiatric practitioners that emerged in post-1947 independent India. Her project explores the future of the profession and the quality of patient care in twentieth century India and the impact of Indo-US psychiatric knowledge collaboration, innovation, and partnership.
Sabine Baier, Dr. sc. ETH Zurich
Sabine Baier earned her PhD in philosophy of science from the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) at the chair for philosophy. Her dissertation “Feuerphilosophen - Alchemie und das Streben nach dem Neuen” (“Philosophers of Fire. Alchemy and the Strive for the New”, published 2015) reflects from a philosophical perspective on the nature of innovation resp. the creation of the new by studying early modern transmutational alchemy. Furthermore, her thesis elaborates on the distinction between a performative material philosophy of creation and a text and output oriented logo-centric philosophy by following the historic terminology of “fire philosophy” on the one hand and “book philosophy” on the other.
She received a Swiss National Foundation scholarship to conduct her postdoctoral research at Johns Hopkins. Her research focuses mainly on historical and modern theories of innovation, narrative theories, general philosophy of science and epistemology with special consideration of philosophy of synthetic chemistry and the pharmaceutical sciences. Her current book project explores the epistemological role of narratives in the process of modern drug discovery in the pharmaceutical industry.
Meng is a Ph.D. candidate from Peking University. He is interested in modern Chinese history and the history of medical education in China, especially the influences of Japanese medical modernizers on the medical reforms in Republican China.
Lucie Gerber, PhD
Lucie received her Ph.D. in History, option History of Sciences, from the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, in Paris in 2016. Her dissertation, “The Laboratory of Animal Spirits: Animal Experimentation, Knowledge Production and Therapeutic Innovation in the Fields of Depression and Alzheimer’s Disease, 1950-2010,” analyzed the practice of animal experimentation in biological psychiatry and neurology in relation to the histories of psychopharmacology, the pharmaeutical industry, market construction processes for drugs, medical theory, and the intersection between the behavioral, mind, and brain sciences.
She received a Fulbright Research Scholar Fellowship to conduct postdoctoral research at Hopkins for the spring semester of 2017. Her current project examines the experimental foundations of the American behavioral medicine movement. It investigates the role played by tools, techniques, and material practices in the structuring and consolidation of new interactions among behavioral psychology, neurophysiology, and the medical sciences between the 1950s and the 1970s, and in the related development of models of physical illness and health, emphasizing the contribution of non-biological factors.
Lucie co-authored an article on the role played by the construction of the European market for first-generation antidepressants in the redefinition of the psychiatric notion of depression during the 1960s and 1970s, which was published in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine (Fall 2016, Volume 90). She also contributed a chapter on industrial preclinical research on antidepressants in The Development of Scientific Marketing in the Twentieth Century, edited by Jean-Paul Gaudillière and Ulrike Thoms (Pickering & Chatto, 2015)
Bridget Gurtler, PhD
Research interests: History of medicine and public health in America from the nineteenth century to the present; history of biomedical sciences, gender and sexuality. Has a particular interest in the history of reproduction, reproductive technologies, and the family.
Her current book project examines the evolution of assisted reproduction and parenthood in American medicine, families, and society. Focusing on the two hundred year history of artificial insemination, it investigates how popular and scientific ideas about gendered bodies, heredity, and risk shaped the transformation of sperm into a (frozen) commodity, were pivotal to separating the act of sex from reproduction, and laid the institutional foundations for the modern fertility industry.
Her future research will focus on key medical technologies (especially, surgical innovations) that have changed the experience and understanding of healthy aging in America.
Click here for more details about publications and teaching.
Katherine Arner, PhD (2014-16)
Katherine received her Ph.D. in the History of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University in 2014. As a postdoctoral fellow, she worked on two projects. The first was an outgrowth of Katherine's broader training in the history of medicine and public health in this department as well as her years of involvement in undergraduate education at Hopkins. She worked with Professor Stuart Leslie on his new history of Johns Hopkins University. The volume will offer a fresh look on the different spaces of inquiry that have defined the university as a whole.
The second was an outgrowth of Katherine's dissertation on the yellow fever pandemics during the Age of Revolutions. She explored the new ecology of health management contemporaries created to deal with the crisis. Using the framework of Atlantic History, her work looked at how knowledge about the disease and management practices became subject to the global circulation of medical actors who connected the diverse ports that hosted outbreaks of the disease. Portions of this work have appeared in the Journal of Atlantic Studies and the Journal of World History.
Gabriel Lopes Anaya (2014-15)
Gabriel holds a bachelor's degree in History and master's degree in History and Spaces from Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte (Brazil). He was a PhD Candidate exchange student for one full academic year (2014/2015) from Fundação Oswaldo Cruz - FIOCRUZ (Rio de Janeiro). His research interests include the history of tropical diseases, transnational history and history of medical entomology. Gabriel's dissertation examines the interplay between ecology, health policies and transnational history within the context of the malaria outbreaks caused by the A. gambiae, an African mosquito which arrived in Brazil in 1930. He is also interested in topics concerning anthropology (multispecies ethnography), philosophy (speculative realism), free software movement and science fiction.
Gabriel's work at the Institute for the History of Medicine was supported by a Sandwich Doctorate scholarship provided by CAPES, a government agency linked to the Brazilian Ministry of Education in charge of promoting high standards for post-graduate courses in Brazil.
Devon Stillwell, PhD (2013-15)
Devon was at Hopkins on a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Postdoctoral Fellowship. She completed her PhD in history, and a diploma in Gender Studies and Feminist Research, at McMaster University in 2013. Her dissertation, “Interpreting the Genetic Revolution: A History of Genetic Counseling in the United States, 1930-2000” analyzed the evolution of prenatal genetic counseling in relation to histories of eugenics, genetics, bioethics, medical professionalization processes, and reproductive and disability rights. She is currently researching the history of Huntington’s disease, cancer, and genetic counseling for adult-onset conditions. She is also preparing a book manuscript on genetic counseling and the role of medical genetics in shaping 20th century American biopolitics and understandings of biological risk. Devon’s work has appeared in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine and Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, and she has a forthcoming article in Social History of Medicine. She taught a course on Women, Health, and Medicine in Modern America at JHU in Spring 2015.
Taehyung Stephan Lee, PhD (2014-15)
Taehyung has a BA and MD(DKM) in Korean Medicine, and a doctorate in Medical History from the College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University. His dissertation explored disputes about the modernization of Korean Medicine. While at Hopkins, he was researching the process of standardizing Korean Medicine through government health policy in late-twentieth century Korea. He is also interested in the characteristics of Korean Medicine before it was modernized in the twentieth century.