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Kathryn Maxson Jones

Kathryn Maxson Jones

Assistant Professor // History

Assistant Professor // Cornerstone

Research focus:
Neuroscience, Biology, AI

Office and Contact

Room: BRNG 6169

Office hours:

  • Spring 2024:
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3-4pm (ET)


Phone: 765-496-2478

Kathryn Maxson Jones is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History. Her research and teaching span the histories of science, technology, and medicine and related policy issues.

Professor Maxson Jones is currently at work on a book, Sea Change: The Squid Giant Axon and the Transformation of Neurobiology, which examines the history of an enormous nerve fiber – the “squid giant axon” – as an experimental model in 20th- and 21st-century neurobiology. This book is based on her award-winning doctoral dissertation, which received the 2023 dissertation prize from the Division of the History of Science and Technology (DHST) of the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (IUHST). Dr. Maxson Jones also has published a book chapter and an article on the squid giant axon.

In addition to the history of neuroscience, Professor Maxson Jones’ research explores the histories of regenerative biology, experimental and model organisms in life science, artificial intelligence, genomics, and molecular biology. With a collaborator at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, MA, she is currently working on a short volume exploring the question, “What is neuron regeneration?” This volume employs perspectives from biology and the history of biology and forms part of the James S. McDonnell Initiative at the MBL, which since 2017 has been facilitating interdisciplinary collaborations investigating how regeneration works across the scales of complex living systems. Supported by the McDonnell Initiative, Dr. Maxson Jones also has written on the history of the lamprey in neurobiology research.

Dr. Maxson Jones’ further historical work has focused on the rise of data-sharing policies in molecular biology and genomics, as inspired by research (2010-2013) at the Center for Public Genomics at Duke University.

Finally, Professor Maxson Jones maintains an active research portfolio in medical humanities, especially examining challenges and concerns related to sharing human data within the U.S. BRAIN Initiative. This interest stems from her time (2020-2023) working in the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine, where she helped run the project BRAINshare: Sharing Data in BRAIN Initiative Studies (R01MH126937).

Professor Maxson Jones’ research and writing have been featured in Neuron, ScienceFrontiers in Cell and Developmental BiologyAnnual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics, the Journal of the History of BiologyBerichte zur WissenschaftsgeschichteWhy Study Biology by the Sea? (The University of Chicago Press, 2020), and GigaScience.

Dr. Maxson Jones holds a B.S. in Biology from Duke University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in the History of Science from Princeton University. When she’s not doing research or teaching, she enjoys running, watching others run track and field on television, cooking, and playing with her Shih Tzu, Lilly.

At Purdue, Professor Maxson Jones’ teaching focuses on the history of science and technology. Please get in touch at!