Elizabeth Jones, A History of Ancient DNA Research: A History of Celebrity Science


Download audio


About the Talk

This talk argues that the history of ancient DNA research is a history of celebrity science. The search for DNA from fossils has a short but sensational history. It arose from the interface of paleontology, archeology, and molecular biology, and has evolved from an emergent to an established technoscience from the 1980s to today. However, the paper argues it has evolved under the influence of intense public interest and extreme media exposure, particularly as it coincided with and was catalyzed by the book and movie Jurassic Park. Through original interviews with over fifty scientists and students, I use oral history to reveal the intricate relationship between science and the popular press.



Elizabeth Jones is a Historian of Science and PhD Candidate in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at University College London. She has a B.A. in History and a B.A. in Philosophy from North Carolina State University, a M.A. in History and Philosophy of Science from Florida State University, and a Certificate in Museum Studies. She is also trained in paleontology through education and experience and worked as the Paleontology Technician for the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.