Science Historian Named Caltech/Huntington Professor
PASADENA, Calif.- A historian with interests as wide-ranging as entomology and Greek astronomy has become the first-ever Eleanor Searle Visiting Professor in the History of Science, a newly established joint program between the California Institute of Technology and the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
Ido Yavetz, assistant professor at The Cohn Institute for History of Science at Tel Aviv University in Israel, arrived in Pasadena this fall and will remain for the academic year. Yavetz specializes in history of classical electromagnetic field theory, history of electrical technology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, history of entomology in the 19th century, and history of early Greek astronomy.
Through the scholar program, he will teach two courses at Caltech and conduct research at The Huntington, in the area of ancient Greek astronomy. Yavetz earned his bachelor's degree and did post-graduate work in physics while earning a master's and PhD in history of science, all at Tel Aviv University. He was a visiting professor at Caltech in 1999-2000.
Each year the scholar will be chosen by the Caltech faculty with the advice and consent of the director of research at The Huntington.
The goal of the scholar program is to bring visiting faculty to Caltech with a superb track record in teaching, who can inspire students to think about the role creativity plays in the scientific process. A different perspective on the challenges that Copernicus, Galileo, Da Vinci, Newton, and Einstein confronted in their work and how they overcame them could be enlightening to today's scientists. Simultaneously, faculty members have the opportunity to exercise their own creative instincts in conducting research at The Huntington to help inform their teaching.
"The Huntington and Caltech were born at roughly the same time as research institutes and have remained close ever since," says Robert C. Ritchie, W.M. Keck Director of Research at The Huntington. "This gift furthers our joint goals in the history of science and honors a great scholar who enriched the intellectual life of Caltech and The Huntington."
The program is named for Eleanor Searle, the first woman to hold a named professorship at Caltech. She was a world famous medieval historian, a popular teacher, and respected colleague during her time at Caltech, 1979 to 1993. She continued to conduct research at The Huntington until her death in 1999. The author of four books in medieval history that are still widely cited, her students and fellow faculty members were saddened when glaucoma cut short her career and forced her to retire early.
An anonymous local couple is funding $100,000 in annual program costs during their lifetimes. They have established a $2 million charitable remainder trust to eventually fund the Searle Visiting Professors Endowment and provide the program's permanent source of support.
ABOUT CALTECH: With an outstanding faculty, including five Nobel laureates, and such off-campus facilities as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Palomar Observatory, and the W.M. Keck Observatory, Caltech is one of the world's leading research centers. The Institute also conducts instruction in science and engineering for a student body of approximately 900 undergraduates and 1,200 graduate students who maintain a high level of scholarship and intellectual achievement. U.S. News & World Report continues to rank Caltech's undergraduate and graduate programs among the nation's best.
ABOUT THE HUNTINGTON: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution serving scholars and the general public. More information can be found on the Web at www.huntington.org.
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Written by Jill Perry