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Prof Joe Cain
22 Gordon Square, room 4.3
UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies
Gower Street
Prof Joe Cain profile picture
  • Professor of History and Philosophy of Biology
  • Dept of Science & Technology Studies
  • Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Professor Joe Cain was trained in the United States, with an undergraduate BSc (zoology) and a Master's MA (history and philosophy of science) from University of Maryland. He holds a doctorate, PhD (history and philosophy of science), from University of Minnesota. After several years in the publishing industry, and a Visiting Professorship at University of Oklahoma, Joe moved to UCL in 1996 to join UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies.


Research Summary

Professor Joe Cain is UCL Professor of History and Philosophy of Biology.

Joe's an expert in the history of evolutionary biology, especially Darwin and Darwinism, and his research interests range from romantic collaborations in modern science to the famous dinosaur statues in London's Crystal Palace. In 2009 he published a new edition of Darwin's Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (Penguin) and a collection of essays on new trends in the history of Darwinism, Descended from Darwin (American Philosophical Society). 

Joe is Director of the Legacies of Eugenics Project. Joe was STS Head of Department, 2011-2019. He is host of the podcast, WeAreSTS.

In 2016, Joe ended his "Film Nights" series, a 10+ year collaboration with UCL Grant Museum of Zoology that showed, for free, classic and obscure films related to the history of natural history. Films included “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” “The Blob,” “The Lost World,” “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea,” and the shamefully popular “Attack of the Killer Shrews”. This series served as a setting to develop a new model for public engagement in the cinema.

Teaching Summary

Professor Joe Cain teaches history and philosophy of science, and science and technology studies, at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Joe's taught modules concentrate in the area of history and philosophy of life sciences, with subjects varying from history of Darwinism and evolution in science and culture, history of palaeontology, philosophy of biology, science in the nineteenth century and life sciences in the twentieth century. Joe also teaches widely across science communication and public engagement, with a recent module in Science in the Publishing Industry as one example.


Joe contributes to UCL Doctoral School Development Programme with workshops on interviewing and oral history and publishing from the thesis. In the past he also has led modules on research ethics and research integrity.


Joe supervises research projects at all academic levels: undergraduate, Masters, and doctoral dissertations.


Joe has won one international and two UCL teaching awards. He has received one academic award for photography. In 2012, Joe also was awarded UCL's Public Engagement Unit's award for the head of department who has shown the strongest commitment to culture change in their area of responsibility with respect to public engagement. He also has received special commendations from UCL's Provost for his extensive public engagement activity.


01-SEP-2011 – 01-OCT-2019 Head of Department UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies UCL, United Kingdom
Academic Background
1995   Doctor of Philosophy University of Minnesota
1989   Master of Arts University of Maryland
1987   Bachelor of Science University of Maryland
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