OSU Taps History of Science Scholars for Endowed Horning Chairs


CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University’s nationally recognized program in the history of science has received a boost this week with the selection of two top scholars who will hold endowed professorships.

Anita Guerrini, a professor of history and environmental studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and David Luft, a professor of history at the University of California at San Diego, have both accepted a Thomas Hart and Mary Jones Horning Professorship in the Humanities. They will join the OSU faculty this fall.

Paul Farber, who chairs the OSU Department of History and holds the title of distinguished professor, said the two scholars will continue the university’s prominence in its history of science doctoral program.

“Anita Guerrini’s expertise is in environmental history and she should be a significant influence for faculty and students interested in environmental issues,” Farber said. “She not only has excellent academic credentials, at UC-Santa Barbara she collaborated with university scientists in local restoration projects and was an important voice in environmental science.

“David Luft will strengthen our scholarship in intellectual history,” Farber added, “and will provide additional expertise for the university’s strong and noteworthy Holocaust Memorial Program.”

Guerrini’s research has focused on the history of the life sciences and medicine, as well as on environmental history. She has a Ph.D. from Indiana University and received her master’s from Oxford University. She is the author of several books, and has edited numerous volumes and articles. She has received grants or fellowships form the National Science Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, the Huntington Library and others.

Luft has an international reputation as an intellectual historian of Central Europe and has focused much of his research on how European intellectuals tried to come to terms with modern science. He also is an author and editor and is working on a history of Austrian intellectual tradition. Luft has received numerous awards for teaching and scholarship, and has a Ph.D. from Harvard University.

The two scholars will replace Mary Jo Nye, who will retire this June, and Robert Nye, who retired last year. The Nyes, who also were prominent scholars in the history of science, both held the endowed Horning professorships.

The endowed Horning chairs were created through a $3 million bequest to the university from the late Benjamin B. Horning, an OSU alumnus who went on to a distinguished career in medical education and philanthropy. Horning died in 1991 at the age of 101, and in his will left the gift to honor the memory of his parents, Mary Jones and Thomas Hart Horning.

The Horning professorships are designed to create a closer link between science and the humanities.