Daniel J. Kevles

Stanley Woodward Professor of History

Daniel KevlesDaniel Kevles, B.A. and Ph.D. Princeton University, faculty member at Yale since 2001: You came to Yale after an already distinguished career at the California Institute of Technology. One reason for coming was your interest in wide intellectual horizons and the exciting possibilities for interdisciplinarity in a farflung university campus—and you have exploited all these opportunities, and then some. A polymath scholar, you have earned secondary appointments at Yale Law School and the Yale School of Medicine in addition to your primary appointment in the Department of History, and you have brought new vitality to the Program in History of Science and Medicine, which you chaired. Under your chairmanship, History of Science and Medicine became one of the largest majors at Yale, and the graduate program flourished as never before.

Beyond the university you have also been a leading international figure in the history of science with an enviable reputation for breadth, depth, and productivity with seven books and some 150 articles to your credit. Your prizewinning and field-changing publications span the disciplines of the history of physics, intellectual property in nature, eugenics, and the human genome project. More recently you have developed an interest in Linnaeus and his wider impact on both science and medicine. It was no surprise to all those who know your work that you were awarded the George Sarton Medal for lifetime achievement, the most prestigious award conferred by the History of Science Society.

While so diligently pursuing your research vision, you have also remained an active member of numerous professional associations, and your editing work as well as your professional activities—from the National Academy of Sciences sesquicentennial project to the Executive Board of the Society of American historians—would leave anyone breathless. You are an excellent teacher of both undergraduates and graduate students, and you do not do that by merely repeating courses: by one count you taught ten different courses at Caltech and then twelve courses different from those since you have been at Yale. No sooner did you arrive at Yale than you were plunged into committee work—the CYCE, FASTAP, the Honorary Degrees Committee, the Committee on Publications, to name just a few—and that has to be because you have always provided wise counsel and reasonableness while defending the most rigorous academic standards.

Urbane citizen of the world, as at home in Paris as New York, California, or Cape Cod, you and Bettyann, a fine scholar herself, have integrated yourselves into the Yale community and made yourselves well-known and highly regarded citizens of New Haven. As you leave to a life busier than ever, Yale thanks you for taking that leap of faith and crossing the country fourteen years ago, honors you for your outstanding intellectual example, and trusts that you will continue to cut a personal and intellectual dash wherever you go.

Tribute Editor: Penelope Laurans