Octopus statue - ProfJoeCain

Professor Joe Cain | Profjoecain | 2019Professor Joe Cain is Professor of History and Philosophy of Biology in UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS).

Research interests

Professor Joe Cain is an expert in the history of evolutionary biology, especially Darwin, Darwinism, and the synthesis period in evolutionary studies. Prof Joe Cain’s research interests include the history of evolutionary studies, Darwin and Darwinism, history of science in London, history of eugenics, and history of natural history. Recent projects include: use of jokes in science to measure tribal affiliations, romantic collaborations in modern science, and the famous dinosaur statues in London’s Crystal Palace.

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.

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).

Professor Joe Cain tweets as @profjoecain

At UCL, Professor Joe Cain is a member of the UCL Press Executive Board and UCL Academic Board. Between 2011 and 2019 he served as Head of Department for UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS). He is project director of Legacies of Eugenics.

Within his professional community, Joe is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, an Associate Member of the Marine Biological Association, and (formerly) a Scientific Fellow of the Zoological Society of London. He is past-president of the Society for the History of Natural History, has been Editor of BSHS Monographs and Associate Editor of Archives of Natural History, and has served on the Council of the Linnean Society, the British Society for the History of Science and the International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science. Joe has been Associate Editor of British Journal for the History of Science. Joe also was Director of the Voices Project and led the Centre for the History of Evolutionary Studies (CHES) at UCL. He served on the Advisory Board of the Journal of the History of Biology and of the Studies in the History of Biology (Russian). Joe also is past-chair of the Advisory Board for the Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies for the HE Academy.

Joe’s current research groups include Popularizing Palaeontology network (AHRC-funded project with Chris Manias, KCL) and Group for a New Historiography in Evolution and Current Biology.

Professor Joe Cain is a member of UCL Commission of Inquiry into Commission of Inquiry into the History of Eugenics at UCL.

In the commercial world, Joe is editor for Euston Grove Press.

Professor Joe Cain: awards and prizes

Professor Joe Cain has won several teaching awards:

  • 2008 MAPS Faculty Teaching Award, UCL
  • 2007 Joseph Hazen Education Prize, History of Science Society
  • 2001 MAPS Faculty Teaching Award, UCL

Joe also won the 2012 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.

Joe uses photography to advance learning in his subjects. His photograph “Connecting Threads” won the BSHS OEC Image Prize for 2007.