Science Historian Dies

Lisa Jardine, former chair of the U.K.’s Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, has passed away at age 71.

Karen Zusi
Dec 9, 2015

WIKIMEDIA, ROYAL SOCIETYLisa Jardine, a historian who dealt with science, ethics, and philosophy, died of cancer this fall (October 25). She was 71.

Jardine never studied just one subject: she majored in mathematics and then English as an undergraduate, earned a master’s degree in the literary theory of translation from the University of Essex, and went on to earn a doctorate in Renaissance studies at the University of Cambridge. Jardine spoke eight languages, according to The Guardian.

Most recently, Jardine was a professor of Renaissance studies at University College London, where she joined the faculty in 2012 and founded the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in the Humanities. She was an “astonishing scholar,” colleague Melissa Terras told The Guardian. Jardine wrote or co-wrote 17 books, including biographical works on Erasmus, Shakespeare, and Robert Hooke. BBC Radio broadcast episodes where she covered her science-history studies.

Jardine also chaired the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the U.K.’s regulatory body on embryo and gamete use, from 2008 to 2014. “Lisa led the HFEA through a challenging period when its continued existence was under review,” Sally Cheshire, the current HFEA chair, told The Independent. “Despite this, important scientific and ethical advancements were brought into the public domain during that time, including the world-leading work on mitochondrial donation, which Lisa spearheaded.” (See “U.K. May Allow Mitochondrial Replacement,” The Scientist, March 2013.)

Jardine is survived by her husband, three children, and four grandchildren.