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History Professor Carla Bittel Awarded a $99K Grant


Carla Bittel, history professor, was awarded a $99,279 grant to fund a project titled "The Science of Women’s Rights." Bittel was awarded the grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Science and Society Program to study a central figure in the history of medicine.

Bittel’s project will provide historians of gender and science with the first full-length study of Mary Putnam Jacobi, a practitioner of scientific medicine in late 19th century America, whose work illustrates how women used specific knowledge in their pursuit of equality.

Bittel’s objective is to investigate the relationship between science and women’s rights activism and to study Jacobi’s biological knowledge. The project will deepen our understanding of women physicians and the politics of women’s health in late 19th century America. It will also provide important historical context for current debates about gender differences and the representation of women in scientific fields.

According to Birute Vileisis, director of sponsored projects at LMU who helps faculty in their search for funding, this is the first major grant given by the NSF to a Bellarmine College faculty member. "I am truly honored to have an NSF grant because such awards provide critical support for historians who study science in social and historical contexts," said Carla Bittel.

"The Science of Women’s Rights" will be a teaching tool to better understand the history of women in the scientific disciplines. The research will provide a unique opportunity for LMU to integrate interdisciplinary methods and subject matters into the curriculum. The project may also help broaden the participation of women in the sciences by providing historical perspective on current debates about women practitioners, sex differences and female cognition.