Sarah S. Richardson
On Sabbatical 2022-2023
Areas of Research: History of Biology, Philosophy of Science, Science & Race, Women & Gender Studies
Sarah Richardson has taught at Harvard University since 2010, where her courses include gender and science, feminist science studies, interdisciplinary research methods in gender studies, heredity and reproduction, postgenomics, medical management of the female body, and sex, gender, and evolution. An expert in the history and philosophy of the sciences of sex, gender, sexuality, and reproduction, she also writes and teaches about race and science, history and philosophy of biology (in particular, genomics and evolutionary biology), feminist epistemology and philosophy of science, and the social dimensions of scientific knowledge. She currently serves on the Harvard Standing Committees for Degrees in Social Studies and for the Mind, Brain, and Behavior Inter-faculty Initiative.
Besides her many scholarly articles published in journals of the history, social studies, and philosophy of science, her books include The Maternal Imprint: The Contested Science of Maternal-Fetal Effects (2021); Postgenomics: Perspectives on Biology After the Genome (co-edited, 2015); Sex Itself: The Search for Male and Female in the Human Genome (2013), and Revisiting Race in a Genomic Age (co-edited, 2008). Her writings have also appeared widely in the popular media, including in the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Slate.
In 2018, Richardson founded the Harvard GenderSci Lab, a collaborative, interdisciplinary research lab that generates concepts and methods for scientific research on sex and gender. Through research, teaching, and outreach, the Lab works to advance the intersectional study of gender in the biomedical and allied sciences, counter bias and hype in sex difference research, and enhance public discourse surrounding the sciences of sex and gender. The Lab unites expertise in the social sciences and biomedical research fields, producing transdisciplinary scholarship widely recognized for its empirical rigor and theoretical sophistication. The GenderSci Lab has produced high-impact research on gender/sex disparities in COVID-19, global trends in human sperm count, and gender inequality in STEM fields, among many contributions, and is an international center for graduate and postdoctoral training in interdisciplinary feminist science studies.
Richardson has given dozens of keynotes and endowed lectures, including at the University of Cambridge, the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (Paris), Texas A&M, University of Pittsburgh, Inserm (Paris), Rice University, the National Academies of Science, the Mercantile Library, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, University of California Los Angeles, and the American Psychological Association. Her honors include the Philosophy of Science Association Women’s Caucus Prize, the Roslyn Abramson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, a Walter Channing Cabot Fellowship, fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the American Association of University Women, and research funding from the Pioneering Ideas initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She has been a fellow in residence at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and at the Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg) in Berlin. She is a member of the editorial boards for the Bulletin of the History of Medicine and Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society and is a past board member of the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology. She has served as interim chair and as director of graduate studies in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard, working to strengthen interdisciplinary gender studies community among faculty and students. In 2020, Wired named her one of "32 innovators who are building a better future."
After completing her undergraduate studies at Columbia University, Richardson received a Ph.D. from Stanford University. She joined the Harvard faculty as an assistant professor in 2010 and was promoted to professor in 2017. Her husband, Rich Olson, is a professor of molecular biology and biochemistry at Wesleyan University. She has two young children, Martin and Acadia. Richardson is a former gymnast and championship high school debater who was raised in Billings, Montana, and Washington, DC. She enjoys hiking, skiing, kayaking, gardening, keeping up on contemporary literary fiction, and staying in touch with colleagues and current and former students from all over the world.
Stanford University. M.A., Ph.D., Modern Thought and Literature.
Columbia University. B.A., Philosophy.