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Dr Helen Anne Curry

Dr Helen Anne Curry

Peter Lipton Lecturer in History of Modern Science and Technology

History of 20th and 21st century science and technology


I am a Senior Lecturer in the history of science. I joined the Department in September 2012, having received my PhD in History from Yale University in May 2012.

My book Evolution Made to Order: Plant Breeding and Technological Innovation in Twentieth Century America (University of Chicago Press, 2016) traces the history of several early technologies used to modify genes and chromosomes, including their development as research tools in genetics and evolutionary biology, their application as novel methods of plant breeding, and their celebration in American popular culture as means of engineering life. You can learn more in a review of the book that was published in Science in November 2016 or my interview with the New Books Network.

My current research considers the history of global conservation, in particular efforts made to preserve the genetic diversity of agricultural crop species through the practice of seed banking. This work is the focus of a CRASSH Pro Futura Scientia Fellowship from 2017–20 and has previously received funding from the Wellcome Trust, the Rockefeller Archive Center, and the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities at the University of Cambridge. You can watch me talk about aspects of this research in a short film produced by the University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute.

In 2017–18 I collaborated with All Seeing Eye in their production of the virtual reality game Seed, which allows players to tinker with plants and genes just like the amateur plant breeders I've written about. You can read more about this project in The Times Higher Education.

I am a fellow and director of studies in the History and Philosophy of Science at Churchill College.

Dr Helen Anne Curry on the HPS Department website


History and Philosophy of Science:
History of 20th and 21st century science and technology

Research Interests

History of 20th and 21st century science and technology, including especially biology and biotechnology; the history of agriculture, horticulture and gardening; the history of conservation and environmentalism; global environmental history.