Doctoral Candidate

Entered 2017

Cohen Hall, 330


B.A. History, Columbia University

M.Phil History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge

Claire Sabel works on the relationship between global commerce and the earth sciences in the early modern period, with a focus on the trade in mineral commodities. Her dissertation investigates how the Indian Ocean gem-trade influenced knowledge of the earth in both Southeast Asia and Europe. An early iteration of this research focusing on the writings of Irish natural philosopher Robert Boyle was included in Gems in the Early Modern World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).

My research in the UK, Netherlands, Indonesia and India is supported by a Fulbright-Hays fellowship in 2022-23. My work has also been supported by the Huntington Library, Folger Library, the Geological Society of America, and by the Lisa Jardine grant of the Royal Society in London. I have also been a contributing researcher to the Natural Things project at Stanford University, and a former Delmas Junior Fellow at the Humanities Institute of the New York Botanical Garden.

In addition to my research, I am particularly interested in the role history of science, technology, and medicine play in both history and science education. Currently I am one of the co-ordinators if the Science Beyond the West working group, which meets regularly to discuss issues of pedagogy, historiography, methods and sources. Before coming to Penn, I was a Research Associate with the Making and Knowing Project at Columbia (a collaborative project in historical reconstruction, experiential learning, and digital communication of early modern craft and science, see our contribution to Reassembling Scholarly Communications), an intern with AAAS's Scientific Responsibility program, and subsequently Project Manager for Columbia's Center for Science and Society and History in Action initiative.

Research Interests

History of the earth sciences, early modern globalization, Southeast Asia, minerals, cross-cultural trade, K-12 education

Selected Work

"The Impact of European Trade with Southeast Asia on the Mineralogical Studies of Robert Boyle," in Michael Bycroft and Sven Dupré eds. Gems in the Early Modern World: Materials, Knowledge and Global Trade, 1450–1800. Palgrave Macmillan, 2019, 87-116

Co-authored with Pamela Smith, Tianna Uchacz, and Naomi Rosenkranz, “The Making of Empirical Knowledge: Recipes, Craft, and Scholarly Communication,” in Jonathan Gray and Martin Paul Eve eds. Reassembling Scholarly Communications: Histories, Infrastructures, and Global Politics of Open Access. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2020, 125-144 [pdf]


Courses Taught

I have been a Teaching Assistant for:

STSC/HSOC 001, The Origins of Modern Science (Fall 18)

STSC 208, Science and Religion in Global Perspective (Spring 19)

HSOC 002, Medicine in History (Fall 19)

STSC 160, Information Age (Spring 20)

Faculty Bookshelf