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Caterina Schürch, M.A.

Caterina Schürch, M.A.

PhD Candidate


Postal address: Historisches Seminar der LMU, Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1, 80539 München
Visiting address: Deutsches Museum, Bibliotheksbau/Zimmer 1229, Museumsinsel 1, 80538 München

Phone: +49 (0) 89 / 2180-73937

PhD Project

The Search for Fundamental Physiological Mechanisms: Cooperation between Biology, Physics, and Chemistry (1918-1939)

Head of Project: Prof. Dr. Kärin Nickelsen

This project sheds light on the search for physico-chemical explanations of basic physiological phenomena in the inter-war period. During the 1920s and 1930s there was institutionalized a physico-chemical biology that aimed at applying the methods of the “exact science” to biology.

Philosophers and historians of science have mainly looked at societal, economic, and epistemic reasons for this turn of biology to reductionist and mechanistic research programs. Yet they have often omitted what this turn meant for the practice of research itself. It is not clear on which basis scientists assumed that a transfer of methods and concepts from physics or chemistry to biology would be fruitful. Nor is it understood, what explanation they were hoping for. This project aims to answer these questions, among others. I will look at four interdisciplinary research programs in order to gain a better understanding of the workings and the effects of interdisciplinary research at that time.



University Education

2021 Ph.D. at LMU in History of Science (Major) and Philosophy (Minor). Dissertation: „Die Suche nach fundamentalen physiologischen Mechanismen: Kooperationen zwischen Biologie, Physik und Chemie (1918–1939).“

2015 Master of Arts in History, History of Science (Main Focus) and Philosophy (Minor), LMU München. Master thesis: „Der Schlüssel zum Pflanzenwachstum. Interdisziplinäre Phytohormonforschung in Utrecht und Pasadena (1928–1938).“

2013 Bachelor of Science, Philosophy of Science and Biology, Universität Bern. Bachelor thesis: „Disparität und Kontingenz. Goulds Thesen und die Versuche, sie zu testen.“


2015-2021 wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin, History of Science, LMU München
2019 Short-term fellow, German Historical Institute, Washington D.C. (1 month)
2017-2018 SNF Doc.Mobility-Fellow, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge (6 months)