Darwin Correspondence Project staff



Jim Secord: DirectorJimSecord colour


Jim Secord has served as Director of the Darwin Correspondence Project since 2006. He also is Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Christ’s College. Besides his work for the Darwin Project, his research is on the history of science from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries, and he has published many articles and several books, including Controversy in Victorian Geology (Princeton, 1986) and editions of the works of Mary Somerville, Charles Lyell, and Robert Chambers. Victorian Sensation: The Extraordinary Publication, Reception, and Secret Authorship of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (Chicago, 2000), an account of the public debates about evolution in the mid-nineteenth century, won the Pfizer Prize of the History of Science Society. He has recently written on scientific conversation, scrapbook-keeping, and public scientific displays. His most recent book is a selection of Darwin’s evolutionary writings in the Oxford World’s Classics, which includes a fresh transcription of the autobiographical Recollections and responses to Darwin’s books from around the world. He is currently completing Nature as News, a study of the relation between scientific practice and the newspaper press in London, Paris, and New York.

Janet Browne: General Editor, USA   j_browne


Janet Browne’s interests range widely over the history of the life sciences and natural history. After a first degree in zoology she studied for a PhD in the history of science at Imperial College London, published as The Secular Ark: Studies in the History of Biogeography (1983). Ever since then she has specialised in reassessing Charles Darwin’s work, first as associate editor of the early volumes of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, and more recently as author of a major biographical study that integrated Darwin’s science with his life and times. While it was framed as a biographical study, the intention was to explore the ways in which scientific knowledge was created, distributed and accepted, moving from private to public, as reflected in the two-volume structure of the work.



UK Staff


Rosemary Clarkson, MA, DAA6240_110344482610_525147610_2672671_2727624_n


Rosy has a degree in Greek and Latin and is a trained archivist. These qualifications enable her to undertake a range of tasks from answering the telephone to attempting to read Darwin’s notoriously poor handwriting.

Sophie Defrance, PhDprofil pic 2


Sophie joined the project in September 2010. She co-ordinates the project’s Darwin & Human Nature initiative, researching Darwin’s correspondence, finding new ways to define Human Nature and developing learning resources for schools and university level students. Her background is in history and social sciences, with a MA from the Sorbonne, a degree from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris and a PhD from Cambridge. She was previously working in the Rare Books Department at the University Library. She is now an avid Darwin twitterer.

Samantha Evans, PhD


Samantha copy-edits all editorial material, draws up schedules, typesets galleys, does picture research, supervises the in-house production process, and liaises with CUP production editors. She also does a fair amount of footnoting in otherwise idle moments, and occasionally writes for the website. Her background is in classics and publishing.

Philippa Hardman, PhDPhilippa Hardman image


Philippa joined the project in July 2010 having completed a BA, MA and PhD in History at the University of Sheffield. Philippa co-ordinates the project’s Darwin & Gender initiative, researching Darwin’s correspondence from a gendered perspective and developing learning resources for university level students of gender. She also does a fair bit of website editing/Blogging/Tweeting and contributes to the teaching of the Darwin Correspondence primary source course at the Department for the History and Philosophy of Science.

Shelley Innes, MASI_schools1


Shelley is primarily a footnoting editor, but has also contributed to the ecology section of the website. Although her background is in the history of zoology, since joining the Project in 2000, she has become an enthusiastic follower of Darwin’s botanical work as well. Her favourite correspondent is Fritz Müller. She hopes more people will read Darwin’s fantastic barnacle books and stop asking why he spent so much time on barnacles. Barnacles are brilliant!

Alison Pearn, PhD: Associate DirectorPearn_A


Alison joined the Project in 1996. Her background is in history, with a BA from Oxford, and a PhD from Cambridge. She curated the University Library’s Darwin Bicentenary exhibition, and edited a companion book, A Voyage Round the World: Charles Darwin and the Beagle Collections of the University of Cambridge (CUP 2009). She is responsible for the day-to-day management of all aspects of the Darwin Project, including its outreach programme, gives both academic and popular lectures on its work, and has appeared on radio programmes such as BBC Radio 4’s In our Time, and Woman’s Hour. She has a particular interest in Darwin’s correspondence with James Crichton-Browne, superintendent of the West Riding Lunatic Asylum, Wakefield, Yorkshire. Oh yes – and she bakes.

Anne Secord, PhD


Anne was trained in the history of science at London University. She rejoined the Project in October 2010 as a footnoting editor, having worked as assistant editor on the first seven volumes of Darwin’s correspondence. Her return has allowed her to experience the difference that the internet and email makes to the process of editing! She also does some teaching in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science. The focus of her research and writings has been on popular, particularly working-class, natural history in nineteenth-century Britain, and on horticulture, medicine and consumption in the eighteenth century.  She is completing a book to be published by the University of Chicago Press, that explores social class, observation, and skill in nineteenth-century natural history.  She has also been commissioned to produce a new edition of Gilbert White’s Natural History of Selborne for Oxford World’s Classics.


Elizabeth Smith, MPhil7823_646009639710_36917735_41290051_2851605_n


Elizabeth has an MPhil in HPS from Cambridge and has worked for the Newton Project Canada. She does a little bit of everything for the Project, from proofreading transcriptions and double-checking bibliography entries, to page layout, to research and preliminary footnoting.

Sally Stafford, MA, PGCEsally


Sally is the Project’s Education and Outreach Officer. She is working with teachers and pupils at a range of secondary schools to develop web-based resources informed by Darwin’s correspondence. The letters provide many opportunities for cross-curricular study at Key stages 3-5, through the unique insight they offer of Darwin’s life and times. Sally has a background in the heritage sector in developing learning and interpretation resources for schools and families.

Paul White, PhDPaul White


Paul’s responsibilities include researching the context of the letters, writing footnotes and introductions to the volumes, outreach work and scholarly publications, and teaching in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science. He oversees the Darwin and religion pages of the website and help to develop teaching materials for schools and universities. His special interests include the history of the emotions, and the interface of science and literature.



US Staff


Geoff Belknap, PhD


Geoff joined the Darwin Project at Harvard in 2012 after finishing his PhD in Cambridge in the History and Philosophy of Science department in 2011. He has previously worked for the John Tyndall project while a student at Cambridge and, by joining the Darwin Correspondence Project, is excited to look at the cross overs between these two eminent men of science.  His general research focuses on the use of photographs in print in the late nineteenth century, with a particular focus on the construction of a visual epistemology in scientific and popular illustrated periodicals in Britain between 1870 and 1890. His work for the Darwin Project includes the editing of letters, work for the website and managing the daily activities of the Harvard office.

Katie Ericksen Baca


Katie is a research assistant in the Harvard office. She answers research queries, contributes content to the Project website, transcribes correspondence, and works on various projects aimed at translating the Darwin Correspondence Project resources into educational materials for the broader public.


Meg Formato


Meg is a PhD student in the Department of History of Science at Harvard. Her dissertation examines philosophies of writing and writing practices in the physical sciences in the early 20th century. For the Darwin Correspondence Project, Meg answers research queries and assists with content for the website.

Myrna Perez Sheldon

Myrna Perez


Myrna is a PhD student in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard. Her dissertation is a close archival study of the public career of Stephen Jay Gould that explores the role of the public in shaping and popularizing evolutionary scientific orthodoxy. For the Project she has answered research queries for the editors, transcribed and proofread family letters. She helped to lead a collaboration with Harvard University to create a set of University teaching modules focused on Darwin’s experimental work. She has also helped with research and design for the Schools curriculum content and has contributed to the Gender as well as Natural Selections blogs. 

Jenna Tonn


Jenna is a PhD student in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard. Her dissertation is about the practice of natural history in US museums in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. She answers research queries and contributes to the Project’s website.



Former US Staff


Alistair Sponsel, PhD


Alistair is a historian of the earth and environmental sciences who is especially interested in scientific expeditions. He first studied Darwin’s correspondence to learn about the development of Darwin’s theory of coral reef formation during the Beagle voyage. Alistair’s favourite Darwin letter was written in Tierra del Fuego on 18 July 1833. On this cold day in the middle of the southern winter, Darwin told John Stevens Henslow that ‘the very thoughts of the fine Coralls, the warm glowing weather, the blue sky of the Tropics is enough to make one wild with delight.’ When Alistair worked on for the Darwin Project his responsibilities included editing letters, contributing material to the Project’s website, and coordinating the day-to-day operations of the Harvard office.

Rebecca Woods


Rebecca is a PhD student in History and Anthropology of Science and Technology at MIT. While she worked for the Darwin Project she answered researched queries, contributed to the Project’s website, and worked on curriculum development at Harvard.