“The travels and adventures of serendipity”: this lovely phrase entered the language ten years ago thanks to the sociologist of science Robert Merton, who used it as the title for an erudite book on the word “serendipity.” But what makes the phrase so resonant is the way it evokes the unpredictable boons of travel, its happy tendency to turn into unexpectedly fruitful adventure.
Many BSHS members will be venturing forth in June to the Three Societies meeting in Edmonton, in the Canadian Rockies. The cost of getting there from this side of the Atlantic is steep, and we’re proud to be in a position to help out generously, awarding travel bursaries of nearly £30,000 in total. (For those attending, please be aware that early-bird registration ends on 15 April, and there may be visa requirements.) We hope to be in a comparable position next year, when our members, along with the rest of the field around the world, will be preparing for the International Congress of History of Science and Technology in Rio. July 2017 may seem a long way away, but the deadline for submission of symposium proposals is the end of this April.
There’s no need to go abroad, of course, for travel-induced, Society-supported serendipity. Reviving a somewhat lapsed tradition, we’re sponsoring three shorter meetings in 2016 in the UK, starting with the annual Science in Public conference at the University of Kent in Canterbury in mid-July (call for papers deadline 11 April), followed by two further meetings in September, on science and islands (Cambridge, cfp deadline 15 May) and on collaborations between university museums and historians of science (Reading, cfp deadline 15 June). Our hope is that, in lieu of a BSHS annual conference this year, these themed but non-specialist occasions will serve to bring members together in something of the same spirit. Rest assured, however, that the annual conference will be back in all its glory next year – the BSHS’s 70th! – hosted by the University of York.
In other ways too, some familiar and some new, the BSHS has been busy on our members’ behalf. With 2016 Pickstone Prize judging well underway, we’re now awaiting submissions for the Society’s Singer Prize, for the best essay by a current or recent PhD student. The submission deadline is end of April; please feel encouraged to enter and/or to encourage the PhD students in your life to enter. Whatever your career stage, feel encouraged too to contribute research articles to our flagship publication, the quarterly British Journal for the History of Science. I’m honoured that my Presidential address from the 2015 annual conference in Swansea will be appearing in the June issue, and I can testify at first hand to the quality of the “author experience” at the BJHS.
A more recent venue for publication is our new blog, available for members’ reflections on their research, news in the field, or whatever else catches their history-of-science interest. Additionally our BSHS intern, Jessica van Horssen, who looks after the blog, is glad to hear from members interested in pitching articles for an imminent New Scientist series on neglected figures from the scientific past. What’s more, to ensure that your own work doesn’t get neglected in the present, do consider contacting Jessica if you’re giving a history-of-science talk somewhere soon and you think there’s scope for posting a recording of it up on the Multimedia part of our website. Her email address is [email protected].
Finally: please note two upcoming funding deadlines at the end of this month, for Research Grants (up to £500) and Special Project Grants (up to £1500).
We hope the above strikes you as a decent return on your investment as a member of the Society. There’s much else to report on, some of it, I hope, ripe for announcement by the time of my next, and final, message in June. For now, let me thank you as ever for your support, and wish you all the blessings of scholarly serendipity.