Working Party on History of Chemistry

Home » Professional Networks » Working Party on History of Chemistry

The Working Party on History of Chemistry aims to bring together and facilitate communication between historically interested chemists, chemistry educators and historians of chemistry from all over Europe and beyond. The WP was founded on 22 April 1977 in Budapest, by Ferenc Szabadváry, and organizes international conferences for the history of chemistry every second year.

Historical data on the Working Party

Chair : Professor Annette Lykknes

NTNU – Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway

Annette Lykknes, chair of the WP since 2021 (vice-chair since 2011), and delegate of the Norwegian Chemical Society, is a professor of chemistry education at NTNU – Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Teacher Education. She holds a M.Sc. in chemistry/chemistry education and a PhD in chemistry/history of chemistry. Her research interests include the history of 20th century chemistry in Norway, technical-chemical education in Norway, radioactivity and nuclear science, the periodic system, the material culture of chemistry, women in chemistry, collaborative couples in the sciences, textbooks in chemistry, 19th and 20th century teaching practices, nature of science, science and science education as (cultural) practice, past and present.

Email Annette Lykknes

Vice-Chair : Carmen Schmechel

Institute for Philosophy at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Copyright Erika Borbély Hansen

Carmen Schmechel is a historian of premodern chemistry and medicine. She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow funded by the German Research Council, and based at the Institute for Philosophy at the Freie Universität in Berlin. Her current book project researches the history of theories about fermentation, especially in the Early modern age. More broadly, she is interested in the philosophy of natural sciences, in particular scientific models, and in how we conceptualise transformations of matter in chemistry and medicine. In a longue-durée approach, she explores how analogies taken from the observable natural world, such as from fermentations of wine or bread, are ultimately employed to create scientific knowledge. Her most recent article is “Descartes and Fermentation in Digestion”, British Journal for the History of Science (2022). She is also a member of the Board of the Division for the History of Chemistry (Fachgruppe Geschichte der Chemie) of the German Chemical Society.

Email Carmen Schmechel

Secretary: Silvia Pérez-Criado

Universitat de València, Valencia, Spain

Silvia Pérez-Criado is a PhD candidate and FPI fellow in historical and social studies of science, medicine and scientific communication at the López Piñero Inter-University Institute (University of Valencia, Spain). Her thesis is focused on DDT in Spain (1939-1977). She is also Student Ambassador of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry (SHAC) since 2020.

Pérez-Criado completed her bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the University of Granda in 2014, a mater’s degree in history of science and scientific communication (Extraordinary Award) at the

University of Valencia in 2015, and master’s degree in science education at the University of Granada in 2016. Before embarking on the PhD, Silvia taught high school science for two years. Her awards include a four month short-term from the Science History Institute (2022) as well as two consecutive New Scholar Awards (2019 and 2020) from the Society for the SHAC.

Email Silvia Pérez-Criado

Communication officer : Yoanna Alexiou

Mondes modernes et contemporains, Faculté de Philosophie et Sciences sociales, Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium

Yoanna Alexiou, communication officer of the WP since 2019, is a PhD student at the Faculté de Philosophie et Sciences sociales, Université libre de Bruxelles [ULB]. After working three years on the Solvay Science Project at the ULB Archives and Record Department, she started a PhD thesis in 2018. Her research focuses on the social history of chemistry taking the Solvay International Institute of Chemistry as a case study. Her thesis will analyze the nexus of the circulation of knowledge and the production of science through social and political mutations concentrating on the International Solvay Councils of Chemistry (1913–1987)’.

Email Yoanna Alexiou

Extended Board Member: Christopher Halm

Deutsches Museum Munich / University of Regensburg, Germany

Christopher Halm expands the WP’s board to include a representation of early career scholars. Christopher is a trained history and chemistry teacher, studied at Heidelberg University, and gained his PhD in the History of Science at the University of Regensburg. He won the newcomer award of the German Chemical Society’s history work group for his thesis on agricultural chemistry in the 18th century. He is an alumnus of the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation and held multiple fellowships, for example, from the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, the Deutsches Museum Munich, the Leibniz Research Alliance, and the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City.

Christopher has a broad interest in the history of chemistry across the centuries. His research expertise concerns the historiography and epistemology of spaces of knowledge production, primarily the laboratory, the field, and the museum. His new book project, influenced by the material turn, deals with the global technocultures of moon rocks.

Email Christopher Halm 

Past – Chair: Dr. Brigitte Van Tiggelen

Science History Institute, Philadelphia, USA, Université catholique de Louvain and Memosciences, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

Brigitte Van Tiggelen was chair of the WP from 2013 to 2021. She is delegate of the Royal Society of Chemistry of Belgium, Director for European Operations at the Science History Institute, Philadelphia, USA, and member of the Centre de Recherche en Histoire des Sciences at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL), Louvain-la-neuve, Belgium. She graduated both in physics and history, and holds a PhD in physics from the UCL, Belgium, with two dissertations. Her main PhD dissertation was devoted to chemistry in the eighteenth century Belgium, while the other thesis focused on wavelets (mathematical physics). Her other research interests include topics such as couples and women in science, domestic science, Belgian chemistry, and philosophy of chemistry. To promote history of science among the general public and especially among secondary school teachers, she has founded Mémosciences, a Belgian non-profit organization that organizes an annual conference cycle on the history of chemistry, scientific conferences, and teacher workshops.

Email Brigitte Van Tiggelen