Martin J. S. Rudwick

Martin J. S. Rudwick

Fellow: Awarded 1994

Field of Study: History of Science and Technology

Competition: US & Canada


Martin Rudwick was educated at the University of Cambridge. In 1958 he was awarded a Ph.D. for research in paleozoology, and taught for several years in the Department of Geology. During this period he published many scientific papers on the evolution of invertebrate animals, and this research was summarized later in his first book (Living and Fossil Brachiopods, 1970). Meanwhile his interests broadened gradually to include historical and philosophical issues, and after transferring to the Department of History and Philosophy of Science in 1967 his work focussed on the history of the earth and life sciences. He published his first historical book (The Meaning of Fossils, 1972) and many related papers before moving in 1974 to the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam as professor of History and Social Aspects of the Natural Sciences. Between 1981 and 1985 he was a visiting professor at Princeton and Jerusalem, and a visiting scholar at Cambridge, Paris, and the Institute for Advanced Study, and he wrote and published The Great Devonian Controversy (1985) and further papers on the history of the earth sciences.

In 1986 he relocated to the U.S. on appointment as professor of the history of science at Princeton. In 1988 he moved to the University of California San Diego, where he continued to teach the history of science and, with colleagues in philosophy and sociology, helped found the graduate Program in Science Studies. His continuing research generated further books (Scenes from Deep Time, 1992; Georges Cuvier, 1997) and many historical papers. During his tenure of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1994-95), he assembled material for a major synthesis of his long-term research on the emergence of the new science of geology in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, centered on the development of concepts and methods for reconstructing the prehuman history of the Earth by analogy with human historiography. His Tarner Lectures (1996) at Trinity College Cambridge summarised this research in a brief preliminary form. Since his return to England in 1998 on retirement from UCSD, he has published it in full in Bursting the Limits of Time (2005) and Worlds before Adam (2008). He is a Fellow of the British Academy, and in 2007 in Washington, D.C., he was awarded the Sarton Medal of the History of Science Society.