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News Release

Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
901 South Bond Street, Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Phone: 443-287-9960 | Fax: 443-287-9920

June 21, 2004
CONTACT: Lisa De Nike
(443) 287-9906

Johns Hopkins Professor Wins First
Francis Bacon Award

Prize includes $20,000 grant as well as
visiting professorship at Caltech

Lawrence Principe, a professor of the history of science and technology and of chemistry in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at The Johns Hopkins University, has won the inaugural Francis Bacon Award for his work on early modern alchemy and chemistry.

Administered by the California Institute of Technology and the Francis Bacon Foundation, the newly created $20,000 biennial award recognizes first-rate scholarship in the history of science and technology and historically engaged philosophy of science. As part of the award, Principe will spend the fall 2005 semester at Caltech as the Francis Bacon Visiting Professor, interacting with students and faculty and delivering two public lectures. He also will organize and lead a conference that will bring together outstanding scholars in 18th century chemistry with the aim of producing a volume to be published in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology series "Transformations."

"I am very honored to have been selected as the recipient of the first Francis Bacon Award," Principe said. "It came as a great surprise. But it's extremely satisfying to think that my work is actually being read and is having an impact out there in the wider world of scholarship."

J.Z. Buchwald, the Doris and Henry Dreyfuss Professor of History at the California Institute of Technology and one of three Caltech professors who judged the inaugural competition, said the originality and depth of Principe's scholarship attracted the committee's attention.

"Professor Principe was selected for this award based on his early work in early modern alchemy and Robert Boyle. Through his meticulous reproductions of alchemical processes, Principe has shown that alchemical operations truly deserve to be understood as the forerunners of modern chemistry," Buchwald said. "His biography of Boyle sets new standards for understanding the complexity of 17th century science."

Caltech and the Francis Bacon Foundation sought nominees whose investigation of scientific and technological concepts and processes influence other scholars.

"Larry Principe's work in the history of early modern chemistry is highly innovative. He's been able to decode obscure alchemical writings and understand the scientific practices of 17th-century natural philosophers as no one else has done," said Sharon Kingsland, chair of the Department of the History of Science and Technology at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins. "He's a meticulous scholar who doggedly seeks out new sources buried in archives. The department was thrilled to hear of his award, but not surprised, because we know we have one of the brightest and most energetic young scholars in our field."

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