The Embryo Project


  • Short Description
  • History
  • Funding History
  • Further Pages

Short Description

The Embryo Project is an international group of researchers who pursue goals related to the sciences of developmental biology and reproductive biology. Those goals include: communicating science with inclusive and public audiences, training people to conduct digital and scholarly projects, and researching the history and philosophy of science in new ways.

The Embryo Project (EP) exists primarily at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. It is administered by the Center for Biology and Society in ASU's School of Life Sciences. The EP contributes to ASU's Charter by providing inclusive education, research of lasting public value, and responsibility for the cultural health of society. The primary product of the Embryo Project is the Embryo Project Encyclopedia.



The Embryo Project began in 2005 when a group of researchers at Arizona State University (ASU), led by Jane Maienschein and Manfred Laubichler, received ASU and soon National Science Foundation grants to use digital methods to examine how science changes over time. The team developed infrastructure and university courses related digital science communication, the history of science, and developmental and reproductive biology.

With the help of ASU's Libraries, the team launched the first version of the Embryo Project Encyclopedia in 2007. A new website replaced the old one in 2009, with the help of the ASU Visualization Lab and the Marine Biological Laboratory/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Library in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The third and current iteration of the encyclopedia launched in 2012, again with the technical support of the MBL/WHOI Library. The project also collaborated with the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, Germany.

In 2011, the Embryo Project became a founding member of the Digital History and Philosophy of Science Consortium, an international group of research teams who use digital tools to study science. In 2012, the Marine Biological Laboratory History Project began as a sister project to the EP. In 2016, the EP partnered with ASU's Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics to launch Reproductive Health Arizona (RHAZ), which records the history of reproductive healthcare in the EP's home state of Arizona.

Since its inception, the Embryo Project has included hundreds of researchers, from students to developers to senior researchers.

Throughout, the Embryo Project Encyclopedia has been the primary product of the Embryo Project. Today, researchers cite the encyclopedia in scholarly articles, as do authors for venues like Newsweek, Pacific Standard, CNN and Popular Science, and millions of people access it every year.


Funding History

The Embryo Project acknowledges supports from ASU's Center for Biology and Society, School of Life Sciences, and ASU's Office of the President. In addition, the EP has received funds from greater than a dozen grants totaling more than $3.4 million. The EP acknowledges especially the following grants and organizations for support.

  1. 2016. "Reproductive Health Arizona." ASU Institute of Humanities Research.
  2. 2012. "A Digital HPS Infrastructure for Understanding Biodiversity." SES 1243575.
  3. 2011. "Establishing an STS Informatics Infrastructure and Training Program." National Science Foundation. SES 1127611.
  4. 2010. "Embryo Project Training Grant." National Science Foundation. SES 0957085.
  5. 2007. "CAREER Award to Manfred Laubichler: Twentieth Century Theories of Development in Context." National Science Foundation. SES 0645729.
  6. 2007. "Understanding Agents of Scientific Change: The Case of Embryo Research." National Science Foundation. SES 0623176. Supplements SES 0914069 (2009), SES 0946499 (2009), and SES 1063574.
  7. 2005. "The Embryo Project." ASU Institute of Humanities Research.
  8. 2005. "Embryo Project Computing Equipment." ASU Office of the Vice President for Research.
  9. 2005. "Embryo Project Computing Equipment." ASU School of Life Sciences.
  10. 2005. "Planning an Embryo Project Conference." ASU School of Life Sciences.