Lukas B. Rieppel David and Michelle Ebersman Assistant Professor of History

Lukas Rieppel works at the intersection of the history of science and the history of capitalism, focusing especially on the life sciences in 19th and 20th century America. He is currently working on a book (under contract with Harvard University Press) that traces how dinosaurs became a symbol of American economic might and power during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Entitled "Assembling the Dinosaur: Science, Museums, and American Capitalism, 1870-1930," this project uses the history of paleontology as a means to examine how the ideals, norms, and practices of modern capitalism shaped the way scientific knowledge was made, certified, and distributed.

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

scholarly work

For a complete list of publications, with pdfs, please visit my personal website

research statement

I am interested in forging connections between the history of biology and American cultural history. In my book project, I examine the link between America's emergence as an economic powerhouse in the late nineteenth century and its concomitant rise to global pre-eminence in dinosaur paleontology. I am particularly interested in how elements from the culture of industrial capitalism spread through the ranks of the scientific community, manifesting itself in the ways that dinosaurs were collected, studied, and displayed to an eager public.

I also have a longstanding interest in foundational debates about evolutionary theory and its relationship to social, political, and economic concerns. For example, I am currently writing an essay that traces how scientists such as Ernst Haeckel, August Weismann, and Oskar Hertwig attempted to reconcile the two great synthetic frameworks of 19th century biology: evolution and the cell theory. Achieving this goal was complicated by the fact that one stressed the way individual cells give up a measure of their autonomy for the good of the whole, whereas the other usually emphasized the salience of competitive over cooperative interactions in the natural world.

funded research

Richard B. Salomon Faculty Research Award (2014)

National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (2010)

Harvard Mind Brain Behavior Initiative Grant (2011, 2009, 2008)

Erwin Hiebert Grant in History of Science, Harvard (2011, 2009)

Harvard Graduate School Merit Fellowship (2010)

Charles Warren Center Dissertation Research Grant  (2009)

Robert M. Goelet Award  (2008)

Harvard Mind Brain Behavior Initiative Graduate Student Award (2008)

Harvard Graduate Student Council Summer Research Grant (2008)