Garland E. Allen, Ph.D.


Evolution, Ecology and Population Biology Program

  • 314-935-6808

  • 314-935-4432

  • 1137

  • 202-D Life Science Building


  • history of biology, genetics, evolution, eugenics, philosophy

  • History, philosophy and sociology of biology, especially genetics, evolution, embryology and eugenics

Research Abstract:

My main research interests lie in the areas of the history, philosophy and sociology of biology: The history of the Mendelian-chromosome theory between 1900 and 1940; the relationship between the history of genetics and the American eugenics movement; and the history of dialectical materialism in the works of Charles Darwin (natural science), Karl Marx (social science) and Richard Wagner (humanities) in the mid- and later 19th century. I also retain an interest in introductory biology and have co-authored several texts, including Matter, Energy and Life(4 eds, 1965-82) and The Study of Biology (4 eds, 1967-84), and, most recently, Biology: Scientific Process and Social Issues (April, 2001).

The major focus of my present research is on the history of genetics and its relationship to eugenics and agriculture in the United States between 1900 and 1950. In addition to an interest in Mendelian genetics, agriculturists and eugenicists also believed that the principles of animal and plant breeding could be applied to managing human evolution. I am exploring the funding and institutional base for eugenics: who paid for it, what were their motives, and what was the sort of scientific (genetic) basis for eugenic arguments. The major goal of this work is to place eugenics in its historical context, and to explore its implications for us today.

A second focus of my work is a study of three major figures of 19th century intellectual history: Karl Marx, Charles Darwin and Richard Wagner. What unites all these in my interest is that they published their major works in the same year, 1859 (Marx, Critique of Political Economy; Darwin, The Origin of Species; Wagner, Tristan and Isolde), but more important, that they incorporated strong elements of evolutionary thinking. A third focus is in the history of post-Darwinian evolutionary theory, in the work of John T. Gulick and the concept of isolation as a mechanism in evolution.

Selected Publications:

Allen GE. Mechanism, Vitalism and Organicism in Late Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century Biology: The Importance of Historical Context, Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 2005 36:261-283.

Allen GE. Growth Factors: Putting the Ideas of Russian Agronomist Trofim Lysenko into Politcal and Scientific Context. The Lysenko Effect: The Politics of Science by Nils Roll-Hansen (Review), Nature 2005 436:1089-1090.

Allen GE , Adams MB, Wess SF. Human Heredity and Politics: A Comparative Institutional Study of the Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor (United States), the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics (Germany), and the Maxim Gorky Medical Genetics Institute (USSR). Osiris 2005 20:232-262.

Allen GE. Heredity, Development and Evolution at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. In: Maienschein, J; Glitz, M and Allen, GE, editors. The Department of Embryology at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, A History. Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press; 2004:145-171.

Allen GE. A Pact with the Embryo: Viktor Hamburger, Holistic and Mechanistic Philosophy in the Development of Neuroembryology, 1927-1955. Journal of the History of Biology 2004 37: 421-475.

Last Updated: 8/3/2011 12:56:22 PM

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