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Home > Members > Distinctions > Karine Chemla elected to the American Philosophical Society (APS) Membership

Karine Chemla elected to the American Philosophical Society (APS) Membership

The American Philosophical Society, the oldest learned society in the United States, has elected two historians of science as members in 2019: Karine Chemla, who is a historian of mathematics in China, is currently director of research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France; and Naomi Oreskes, an environmental historian who is professor of the history of science and affiliated professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University.

Founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743, the APS’s main mission is to “promote useful knowledge” through research, fellowships, and public outreach in different a wide variety of scholarly disciplines.

Membership, which is possible only through election, honors individuals who have made extraordinary accomplishments to their fields. The accomplishments of this year’s history of science members are indeed extraordinary and prolific scholars and HSS Newletter heartily congratulates them for this honor. More information about each new member and their election many be found by clicking on their names.

"Karine Chemla studied mathematics at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Jeunes Filles (1976-1982). In 1979, the Director, Josiane Serre, nominated her for a scholarship awarded by the Singer Polignac Foundation for students to spend a year overseas working in an area distinct from their primary research area. For her project, entitled “Science and Culture,” she selected China. In September 1980, she started a self-directed programme of Chinese language, and, in 1981, the Institute for the History of Natural Sciences (Chinese Academy of science, Beijing) established a curriculum for her. She was the first foreign student to study the History of Science in China at the Institute. In 1982, she obtained a PhD degree with a thesis devoted to a 13th century Chinese text, and was hired in the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), where she is now Senior Researcher of exceptional class, affiliated to the research group SPHERE (Université de Paris).

Chemla contributes to fundamental research, by producing research tools. With Guo Shuchun, she has published a critical edition and a French translation of the main Chinese mathematical canonical text: The Nine Chapters on Mathematical Procedures and its two key ancient commentaries. For this, Chemla also composed the first glossary ever published of Chinese technical terms used in ancient mathematics. K. Chemla & Guo Shuchun, Les Neuf chapitres, with a glossary by K. Chemla, was awarded the Prize Hirayama, 2006, Academy of Inscriptions & Belles-Lettres. Chemla also contributes theoretical work to the history of science, on topics related to the historiography of mathematics in the ancient world, scientific cultures and epistemological values. Her publications include: The History of Mathematical Proof in Ancient Traditions (ed., 2012); Texts, Textual acts and the History of Science (ed., with Jacques Virbel, 2015); The Oxford Handbook of Generality in Mathematics and the Sciences (ed., with Renaud Chorlay and David Rabouin, 2016); Cultures without culturalism (ed., with Evelyn Fox Keller, 2017).

Chemla is past president of the European Society for the History of Science (2014-2016) and was awarded an Advanced Research grant of the European Research Council (2011-2016) [The Project SAW, Mathematical Sciences in the Ancient World"]. Chemla was elected Member of the Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina (2005-) and of the Academia Europaea (2013-). In 2008 she was awarded the Silver medal from CNRS."

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