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Brigitte Stenhouse awarded DHST Dissertation Prize

Brigitte StenhouseBrigitte Stenhouse has been awarded a 2023 DHST Dissertation Prize from the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology for her dissertation on Mary Somerville: Being and Becoming a Mathematician at the Open University, supervised by Professor June Barrow-Green. The DHST Dissertation prize is awarded every two years to recognize outstanding doctoral dissertations by historians of science and technology, working anywhere in the world and on any time period.

Brigitte’s doctoral thesis considered how Mary Somerville (1780-1872) accessed mathematical knowledge and communities, and what it meant for her to be a mathematician in nineteenth-century Britain.  Somerville is located within the community of mathematical reformers of early-ninteenth-century Britain, especially those linked by mathematical periodicals. This illuminates her early mathematical education and provides a new, technical understanding of her acclaimed 1831 mathematical translation of Laplace’s Mecanique Celeste. Mobilising the extensive collection of Mary Somerville letters, the ways and means by which she used polite sociability to extract scientific knowledge from spaces nominally closed to women are uncovered. Particular attention is paid to the vital role of her second husband, Dr. William Somerville, as a mediator, situating the Somervilles within wider scholarship on scientific collaborative couples. Finally, an analysis of Somerville's manuscript works in mathematics is given for the first time. Insight is gained not only into what mathematics Somerville studied throughout her long life, but also the notable influence that financial difficulties and the mathematical publishing landscape of the day had on the styles of writings Somerville completed and published in her lifetime.

Read Brigitte’s thesis here: Mary Somerville: Being and Becoming a Mathematician - Open Research Online.