Michael A. Osborne

Michael A. Osborne


Ph.D. University of Wisconsin 1987
History of the Life Sciences and Medicine
Environmental History and Bioethics

305A Milam
(541) 737-0776

Michael A. Osborne specializes in the history of modern biology, medicine, and environmental issues. He is especially interested in evolution, public health, regenerative medicine, and alpine environments.


Osborne discovered the history of science as an undergraduate at Oregon State University, where he benefited from charismatic and intellectually demanding professors. Before becoming a professor he worked for a number of government and private agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Fellowships or grants from the National Science Foundation, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, the Camargo Foundation, the John Templeton Foundation, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and other agencies have supported his research and that of his graduate students. Before returning to OSU he was professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he continues as Research Professor of Environmental Studies and History and bioethics leader for human embryonic stem cell research. His most recent book is The Emergence of Tropical Medicine in France.

Select Publications

The Emergence of Tropical Medicine in France cover

The Emergence of Tropical Medicine in France 

(University of Chicago Press, 2014)

 Nature, the Exotic, and the  Science of French Colonialism (Indiana University Press, 1994)  Nature, the Exotic, and the Science of French Colonialism

Edited Volume

  • Special issue on "Science, technoscience, and imperialism,” Science, Technology, and Society 4, no. 2, (1999) [Co-editor with D. Kumar].

Representative Articles

  • "Medical Climatology in France: The Persistence of Neo-Hippocratic Ideas in the First Half of the Twentieth Century,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 84 (2012): 543-563. [co-authored with R. Fogarty]
  • "Eugenics in France and the Colonies,” in A. Bashford, P. Levine, eds., Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics (Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 332-46 [Co-author, R. S. Fogarty].
  • Nature, technology, and the human condition,” in M. Drenthen, et. al., eds. New Visions of Nature: Complexity and Authenticity  (Springer, 2009), pp. 267-78 [Co-author, C.  Newell].
  • “Raphaël Blanchard, Parasitology, and the positioning of Medical Entomology in Paris,” Parassitologia 50 (2008) [pub.2009]: 213-20.
  • "Science in the French Empire," Isis 96 (2005): 80-87.
  • "Views from the periphery: Discourses of Race and Place in French Military   Medicine,” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 25 (2003):  363-89 [Co-author, R. S. Fogarty].
  • "Acclimatising the world: A history of the paradigmatic colonial science, " Osiris 15 (2001): 135-51.

Recent Professional and Editorial Activities

  • President-elect, Division of History of Science and Technology of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, 2013-2017.
  • Editorial Board,  Pickering and Chatto Publishers (UK), monograph series on “Science and Culture in the Nineteenth Century.”      
  • Second Vice-President, Division of History of Science and Technology of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science, 2009-2013.
  • President, Commission on Sciences et Empires, Division of History of Science and Technology (2005-2009).
  • Associate Editor, Journal for the History of Biology (2009-2012).