Rachel Mason Dentinger & Entangled Bank

Animals and the Shaping of Modern Medicine:         One Health and its Histories

By Abigail Woods, Michael Bresalier, Angela Cassidy, and Rachel Mason Dentinger

Palgrave, 2018

Entirely free to download!
The jointly authored book my colleagues and I produced during our time working together on the Wellcome Trust project, “One Medicine? Investigating Human and Animal Disease.”

I was so very glad to be able to visit London for the launch of the book and share this proud moment with my colleagues at King’s College London.

Entangled Bank takes its name from the first sentence of the final paragraph of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859):

It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us.

Canopy walkway at Gunung Mulu in Sarawak, Borneo.

I am a historian of biomedicine, ecology, and evolution, living in Salt Lake City with my husband Bryn, who studies the evolution of fungi at the Natural History Museum of Utah, and our two children. I am a scholar-in-residence and instructor at the University of Utah, where I teach medical humanities, history of science, and honors courses.

I completed my Ph.D. in the history of science at the University of Minnesota in December 2009. My dissertation is entitled, “The Nature of Defense: Coevolutionary Studies, Ecological Interaction, and the Evolution of ‘Natural Insecticides,’ 1959-1983.” A version of the first chapter, which won the History of Science Society’s Reingold Prize in 2009, has been published in Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences, as “From ‘Actual Forces’ to ‘Token Stimuli’: Gottfried S. Fraenkel and the Evolutionary “Raison d’Être” of Plant Molecules, 1930s–1960s.” My current project is preparing the complete dissertation manuscript for publication.

From September 2012 to June 2016, I was a research fellow at the Department of History at King’s College London, working on “One Medicine? Investigating Human and Animal Disease,” a project funded by the Wellcome Trust. My component of the project focused on the history of 20th-century parasitology and the role that evolutionary theory played in developing concepts of host-parasite and host-host relationships. My colleagues and I have recently published a paper in BJHS Themes, “Animal roles and traces in the history of medicine, c.1880–1980” (open access!). The collaborative product of this work is our joint book, Animals and the Shaping of Modern Medicine: One Health and its Histories, published by Palgrave (2018), and featured at the top of this page.  Most recently, Abigail Woods and I co-edited and introduced a special issue of History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, based upon “Working Across Species,” a workshop that we hosted in London in 2016.

Past scholarly writing:
My April 2016 paper in the Journal of the History of Biology, “Patterns of Infection and Patterns of Evolution: How a Malaria Parasite Brought ‘Monkeys and Man’ Closer Together in the 1960s” (open access!), was just honored in February 2017 with the first Everett Mendelsohn Prize, as a “rich and powerful historical narrative that is original, illuminating, and engaging.” This paper is part of a special section (in Vol 49, number 2), which includes an introduction co-authored by myself and Pierre-Oliver Méthot, “Ecology and Infection: Studying Host-Parasite Interactions at the Interface of Biology and Medicine.”

Chris Packham presents me with the Garden Media Guild New Talent Award.
Chris Packham presents the Garden Media Guild New Talent Award to Rachel.

Science Writing:
I have written for Kew Magazine and The Naked Scientists.  In 2012, I won the Garden Media Guild New Talent Award for some of my Kew Magazine pieces, including “Seeing the Wood for the Trees,” “Underground Connections,” and “The Allure of Dracula.”

For this award, the judges wrote, “Rachel stood out for her ability to make scientific content accessible to all, skilfully weaving botanical terminology, enlightening interviews and a wonderful sense of place into her pieces – never dumbing down, and always educating upwards.”

Also check out:
My review of Peter Bowler’s 2013 book Darwin Deleted: Imagining a World Without Darwin for BooksAndIdeas.net, which subsequently had my review translated into French!

See my CV.

Contact me: rachelDOTmasonDOTdentingerATutahDOTedu

All images and text (unless otherwise attributed) fall under the following copyright:
Creative Commons License
Entangled Bank by Rachel Mason Dentinger is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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