Francis Newman

Francis Newman

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Research Interests: Histories of science, medicine, and technology in East Asia; material culture; science and colonialism; time and temporality; weather and disease.

Francis is a PhD student in history of science. His work draws together histories of the physical sciences and of medicine in the context of encounter, exchange, and colonialism in nineteenth- and twentieth-century China. This research includes critically investigating how actors (and historians) have conceptualised ‘modernity’ through contrasting conceptions of time and timekeeping, and exploring the relationship between weather, climate, disease etiology, and medical practice in both Chinese and foreign knowledge systems. He has also published on how science diplomacy involving the early PRC informed contemporary ideologies of science in Britain.

After initially training in physics, he worked in science communication and in museums of technology and industrial heritage before turning toward history of science. Partly as a consequence, he also has an abiding interest in how museums and innovative digital media can support, shape, and connect historical research, science policy, and public history.


‘Scientific ideologies on the move: Sino-British exchanges, scientific freedoms, and the governance of science in Britain, 1961-1966’, Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal for the History of Science (2021). Published ahead of print, at (This paper was runner-up in the Notes & Records Annual Essay Award 2021).

‘The Ambiguities of a Sundial’, in J. Nall and B. Jardine, eds, Materials for the History of Science (Cambridge, UK: Whipple Museum of the History of Science, 2022)


Previous Degrees:

MPhys (Hons) Physics, University of St Andrews
MPhil History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine, University of Cambridge

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