Isabel Gabel

Isabel Gabel, PhD
  • Titles:
  • Fellow in Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of Genetics and Genomics
  • Visiting Scholar, Department of History
  • Education:
  • Columbia University, PhD, History


Isabel Gabel works on the history of biology and the human sciences in the 20th century, with a particular focus on concepts of history, environment, and contingency across disciplines. From 2015-2018, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Morris Fishbein Center for the History of Science and Medicine and the Department of History at the University of Chicago. In 2011-2012 she was a Predoctoral Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. She received her PhD in history at Columbia University in 2015.

Her first book manuscript, The Living Past: Biology and History in Midcentury France, examines how humanists were reimagining socio-political possibilities through the framework of radical transformations in the life sciences in the middle of the twentieth century, especially evolutionary theory, embryology, and genetics. Her work has appeared in Perspectives on Europe and History of the Human Sciences. At Penn she will be focusing on contemporary epigenetics research within the broader history of ideas about individuality and environment, as well as on the normative value of non-knowledge or ignorance in this research.

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