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Emma Wolverton (1889–1978)

Emma Wolverton, also known as Deborah Kallikak, lived her entire life in an institution in New Jersey after psychologist Henry Goddard classified her as feeble-minded. He also wrote a book about Wolverton and her family that psychiatrists previously used to show that intellectual disability is hereditary. At the time, researchers in the psychology field, including Goddard, were working to understand differences in people’s intellectual abilities. They used the term feeble-minded to refer to those they described as having lower intellectual functioning.

Format: Articles

Subject: People, Disorders

Thesis: Leo Kanner and the Psychobiology of Autism

This thesis illustrates that Kanner held an explicitly descriptive frame of reference toward his eleven child patients, their parents, and autism. Adolf Meyer, his mentor at Johns Hopkins, trained him to make detailed life-charts under a clinical framework called psychobiology. By understanding that Kanner was a psychobiologist by training, I revisit the original definition of autism as a category of mental disorder and restate its terms.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: People, Disorders

Dissertation: Lessons from Embryos: Haeckel’s Embryo Drawings, Evolution, and Secondary Biology Textbooks

Haeckel believed that the development of an embryo revealed the adult stages of the organism’s ancestors. Haeckel represented this idea with drawings of vertebrate embryos at similar developmental stages. This is Haeckel’s embryo grid, the most common of all illustrations in biology textbooks. Yet, Haeckel’s embryo grids are much more complex than any textbook explanation. I examined 240 high school biology textbooks, from 1907 to 2010, for embryo grids.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Publications, People

Dissertation: Degeneration in Miniature: History of Cell Death and Aging Research in the Twentieth Century

Once perceived as an unimportant occurrence in living organisms, cell degeneration was reconfigured as an important biological phenomenon in development, aging, health, and diseases in the twentieth century. This dissertation tells a twentieth-century history of scientific investigations on cell degeneration, including cell death and aging.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Processes, Organisms

Dissertation: A Quadruple-Based Text Analysis System for History and Philosophy of Science

Computational tools in the digital humanities often either work on the macro-scale, enabling researchers to analyze huge amounts of data, or on the micro-scale, supporting scholars in the interpretation and analysis of individual documents. The proposed research system that was developed in the context of this dissertation, known as the Quadriga System, works to bridge these two extremes by offering tools to support close reading and interpretation of texts, while at the same time providing a means for collaboration and data collection that could lead to analyses based on big datasets.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Outreach

Thesis: The Human Genome Project and ELSI: The Imperative of Technology and Reduction of the Public Ethics Debate

Portrayed as the Manhattan Project of the late 20th century, the Human Genome Project, or HGP, not only undertook the science of sequencing the human genome but also the ethics of it. For this thesis I ask how the HGP did this; what was the range of possibilities of goods and evils imagined by the HGP; and what, if anything, was left out.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Ethics, Organizations

Thesis: The Hwang Woo-Suk Scandal and the Development of Bioethics in South Korea

In 2004, the South Korean geneticist Woo-Suk Hwang published what was widely regarded as the most important research finding in biotechnology that year. In the prestigious American journal Science, he claimed that he had succeeded in cloning a human blastocyst, which is an embryo in its early developmental stages (Hwang et al. 2004). A year later, in a second Science article, he made the earth-shattering announcement that he had derived eleven embryonic stem cell lines using his cloning technique (Hwang et al. 2005). The international scientific community was stunned.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Ethics, People

Thesis: Visualizing the Embryo: Establishing Procedures for Digital Image Production with the Embryo Project

Until 2013, the Embryo Project Encyclopedia had not presented images in articles due to the fact that there was no formal protocol for developing images at that time. I have created an image style guide that outlines the basic steps of creating and submitting an image that can complement an Embryo Project article and can enhance a reader’s understanding of the discussed concept. In creating this style guide, I investigate similar protocols used by other scientific journals and medical professionals.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Outreach

Thesis: Abortion: An objective lens at the formation of the polarization and stigma

With all of the tension surrounding the moral significance of the abortion issue, the question arises: How did specific figureheads, events, and contributing factors lead to the generation of the stigma and polarization surrounding the dichotomy of pro-life versus pro-choice abortion stances in the United States of America?

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Reproduction

Thesis: Surprising Religious and Republican Roots to Planned Parenthood: An Arizona Case Study

The social and political history surrounding Planned Parenthood Arizona illustrates the interplay between politics and the reproductive rights movement throughout the twentieth century. The contextualization of major historical events during the development of Planned Parenthood Arizona gives insight into the current political and religious beliefs regarding the reproductive rights movement.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Organizations, Places, Religion

Thesis: A History of Cellular Senescence and Its Relation to Stem Cells in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries

This study aims to provide information to answer the following question: While some scientists claim they can indefinitely culture a stem cell line in vitro, what are the consequences of those culturing practices? An analysis of a cluster of articles from the Embryo Project Encyclopedia provides information to suggest possible solutions to some potential problems in cell culturing, recognition of benefits for existing or historical culturing practices, and identification of gaps in scientific knowledge that warrant further research.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Processes, Publications

Dissertation: Fetal Risk, Federal Response: How Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Influenced the Adoption of Alcohol Health Warning Labels

In the fifteen years between the discovery of fetal alcohol syndrome, or FAS, in 1973 and the passage of alcohol beverage warning labels in 1988, FAS transformed from a medical diagnosis between practitioner and pregnant women to a broader societal risk imbued with political and cultural meaning. In this dissertation, I examine how scientific, social, moral, and political narratives dynamically interacted to construct the risk of drinking during pregnancy and the public health response of health warning labels on alcohol.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Disorders, Reproduction, Legal

Thesis: From Monsters to Medicine: A Historical Analysis of Changes in the Field of Teratology Over the Twentieth Century

This project focuses on the history of how teratogens, or agents which have the potential to cause birth defects, have been understood and tested for teratogenic potential in the US over the twentieth century. Prior to this time, teratogen studies were primarily concerned with cataloguing defects rather than exploring possible causes. At the turn of the twentieth century, experimental teratogen studies with the aim of elucidating mechanisms commenced.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Disorders

Thesis: The Genesis of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

This is a project about medicine and the history of a condition called premenstrual syndrome (PMS), its “discovery” and conceptual development at both scientific and socio-cultural levels. Since it was first mentioned in medical literature, PMS has been explored empirically as a medical condition and conceptually as a non-somatic cultural phenomenon. Many attempts have been made to produce scientific, empirical evidence to bolster the theory of PMS as a biological disease.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Reproduction

Thesis: Twilight Sleep and its Contributions in Shaping Perceptions of Childbirth

This thesis explores the impact of Twilight Sleep on women and physicians and their perceptions of childbirth. Twilight Sleep empowered women to take on a more active role in shaping the medical care they received rather than accepting childbirth as a natural event associated with physical and mental trauma and high risk of mortality. For doctors, the debate regarding Twilight Sleep’s safety and efficacy affirmed a ubiquitous notion that childbirth ought to be seen as a pathological rather than natural event.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Theories

Thesis: Reproduction in Science Fiction

Science fiction works can reflect the relationship between science and society by telling stories that are set in the future of ethical implications or social consequences of scientific advancements. This thesis investigates how the concept of reproduction is depicted in popular science fiction works.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Publications, Reproduction

“Spiritual Midwifery” (2003), by Ina May Gaskin

In 1976, midwife Ina May Gaskin published Spiritual Midwifery, with other editions published in 1980, 1990, and 2003. Spiritual Midwifery is a book about pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, or the time period after birth. During the 1970s, it was common for women to receive an epidural, a medication that reduces pain during labor, and for physicians to monitor a fetus’s heartbeat while separating women from their infants after birth. However, according to Gaskin, some women wanted to give birth outside of the hospital without medical interventions.

Subject: Publications, Reproduction

Thesis: From Fertilization to Birth: Representing Development in High School Biology Textbooks

Biology textbooks are everybody's business. In accepting the view that texts are created with specific social goals in mind, I examined 127 twentieth-century high school biology textbooks for representations of animal development. Paragraphs and visual representations were coded and placed in one of four scientific literacy categories, including descriptive, investigative, nature of science, and HETS, or human embryos, technology, and society. I then interpreted how embryos and fetuses have been socially constructed for students.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Publications

Thesis: Timeline of Changes in Mammography Guidelines in the United States

Breast cancer affects about 12% of women in the US. Arguably, it is one of the most advertised cancers. Mammography became a popular tool of breast cancer screening in the 1970s, and patient-geared guidelines came from the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the US Preventative Task Force (USPSTF). This research focuses on ACS guidelines, as they were the earliest as well as the most changed guidelines. Mammography guidelines changed over time due to multiple factors. This research has tracked possible causes of those changes.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Technologies, Experiments, Publications

Thesis: The Dynamic Landscape of Abortion Law in the United States

Much change has occurred in abortion laws over the past 50 years, this thesis tracks those changes principally through Supreme Court Cases, such as United States v. Milan Vuitch, Roe v. Wade, and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood among others. The landscape of abortion law in the US continues to shift today, as recently as 2017 with Plowman v. FMCH cases were being heard in courts that wrought subtle yet important changes in abortion law.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Legal

Thesis: Non-Medical Origins of Reproductive Health Solutions in the US

By demonstrating the struggle for sound standard of care for non-medical reproductive health care providers during the nineteenth and early twentieth century, this project emphasizes what the standards of reproductive health care for abortion and contraception might be like if the organizations that made them so readily available, like Planned Parenthood, were defunded or criminalized in our modern setting.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Organizations, Reproduction

Thesis: Human Preconception Sex Selection: Informing the Public of Sex Selection Methods and Ethical Considerations

By questioning methods of sex selection since their early development, and often discovering that they are unreliable, scientists have increased the creative and technological capacity of the field of reproductive health. The presentation of these methods to the public, via published books on timing methods and company websites for sperm sorting, increased interest in, and influence of, sex selection within the global society.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Technologies, Ethics

Endoscopic Fetoscopy

Endoscopic fetoscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed during pregnancy that allows physicians to view the fetus in-utero. Physicians use endoscopic fetoscopy to evaluate, diagnose, and treat fetal abnormalities. Physicians use an endoscope, or a thin, flexible surgical device with a light attached to its end, to perform endoscopic fetoscopy procedures. In 1954, Björn Westin performed the first endoscopic fetoscopy in Sweden.

Format: Articles

Subject: Technologies