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Considering the life and work of Lord Kelvin from the perspective of the history of the earth sciences

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  • Full or part time
    Dr S Naylor
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

On 15 June 1896 the University of Glasgow celebrated the jubilee of the professorship of Sir William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, who had been elected to the University’s chair of Natural Philosophy in 1846. Delegates attended from universities and scientific institutions around the world. The Royal Geographical Society was represented by Dr John Murray, veteran of the Challenger expedition and a member of the Council of the Society. In a subsequent account of the event in its in-house publication, the Geographical Journal, the Society justified its participation on the grounds that Kelvin had made a number of important contributions to the sciences of geography and earth science.

Taking its prompt from the 1896 article in the Geographical Journal, this PhD project will consider the life and work of Lord Kelvin from the perspective of the history of the earth sciences. In doing so it will consider his role in the development of a range of scientific instruments for use in studies of the earth and its processes. The project will examine Kelvin’s work on submarine telegraphy, deep-sea sounding, magnetic variation and marine navigation. It will also consider his contributions to tidal studies, to theories of glacier movement and to relations between polar ice-caps and sea level. The project will make extensive use of the scientific instrument collections and other historical items held as part of the Hunterian’s Kelvin collection, from compass cards to submarine cable charts. The project will benefit greatly from a new purpose-designed Collections Study Centre in the Kelvin Hall development, in which the Hunterian’s objects and specimens will be accessible.

The project will also utilise the archives held in the University of Glasgow’s Archives and Special Collections, including Kelvin’s correspondence and papers, patents and business papers, the running of his laboratory, correspondence with scientific instrument makers, and lecture notes. This project will improve our understandings of the relations between the geographical and physical sciences in the nineteenth century. It will also contribute to current debates regarding the role of place in the production of scientific knowledge and instrumental practice. Lastly, the project will improve understandings of the Hunterian’s instrument collection and bring them into greater public view.

The project will enable the appointed research student to play an active role in a transdisciplinary research community drawing on the rich heritage of the University and the City, and undertaking research projects inspired by the local context and experience of Glasgow to generate research with global relevance.

Candidates wishing to submit an application should prepare and submit the following documentation:

. The application form which includes a personal statement in which you should detail the particular attributes and/or achievements which make you a suitable candidate to undertake the proposed project
Your CV
. Your degree transcripts
. Two references in support of your application

The closing date for receipt of complete applications is Friday, 25 March 2016. Applications should be emailed to Adeline Callander, Graduate School Administrator ([Email Address Removed]).

Funding Notes

A doctoral scholarship providing maintenance (c. £14,100 in session 2016-17) and fees (Home/EU rate only) at Research Council rates

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