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Myrna Sheldon


Assistant Professor

Classics & World Religions
Ellis 210F


Ph.D., May 2014, Department of the History of Science, Harvard University

Visiting Student, Fall 2010, Department of the History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge

B.S., Summa Cum Laude, May 2006, Departments of Biology and History, Westmont College

Courses Taught

  • CLWR 2220: Difficult Dialogues: Religion, Gender, and Sexuality
  • CLWR 3610: American Religions
  • WGSS 4600/5600: Gender, Sexuality, and Culture

Research and Teaching Fields

  • History of U.S. Christianity
  • Feminist Science Studies
  • Sexuality Studies
  • Critical Race Studies
  • History of Science
  • 19th and 20th Century U.S. History
  • Science and Religion


In Progress

Sheldon, Myrna Perez. Darwin’s Heretic: Stephen Jay Gould, 1941-2002. (under review at University of Chicago Press)

Sheldon, Myrna Perez. “Wild at Heart: How Evolutionary Psychology Influenced the Construction of White Heterosexual Masculinity in American Evangelical Christianity, 1980-2010.” (in submission)

Sheldon, Myrna Perez. Sex Myths: Evolution and Christianity in the Making of American Race and Sexuality, 1800-2010. (working title, in preparation)

Book Chapters

2015. Sheldon, Myrna Perez and Naomi Oreskes. “Trust Science? Politics, Religion and Environmental Protection in the United States” in Jonathan Hart ed. Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Religion and Ecology (forthcoming)

Journal Articles

2014. Sheldon, Myrna Perez. “Claiming Darwin: Stephen Jay Gould in Contests over Evolutionary Orthodoxy and Public Perception, 1977–2002.” Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45: 139–47.

2013. Perez, Myrna. “Evolutionary Activism: Stephen Jay Gould, the New Left and Sociobiology.” Endeavour 37, no. 2: 104-111.

Book Reviews, Encyclopedia Articles, Etc.

2014. Sheldon, Myrna Perez. “A Cultural History of Heredity, by Staffan Müller-Wille and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger. Endeavour 38, no. 3-4, 145.

2013. Sheldon, Myrna Perez. “Rereading the Fossil Record by David Sepkoski.”British Journal for the History of Science 46, no.4: 732-734.

2012. Sheldon, Myrna Perez. “Edward O. Wilson” in Hugh R. Slotten ed. Oxford Encyclopedia of the History of American Science, Medicine, and Technology (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

2012. Johnson, Jennifer and Myrna Perez. “Stephen Jay Gould Papers at Stanford University.” Mendel Newsletter, no. 19: 3-7

2011. Perez, Myrna. “Darwin's World: Evolution from A to Z by Richard Milner.” Journal for the History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 33, no.3: 415-416.

2010. Perez, Myrna. “Natural Experiments of History, by Jared Diamond.” Journal of Historical Geography 36, no. 4: 486–487.

Prizes, Fellowships & Awards

2015. Sole runner up, Allan Nevins Prize, Society for American Historians

2014. Dissertation of the Year, Program for Science, Religion and Culture, Harvard Divinity School

2013. Dibner Fellow in the History of Science, Huntington Library, Pasadena

2013. Dissertation Completion Fellowship, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University

2012. Dissertation Research Grant, Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History

2011-12. Erwin Hiebert Grant in History of Science, Harvard

2009-11. Harvey Fellow, Mustard Seed Foundation

2012-13. Certificate of Teaching Distinction, Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University

2008. Summer Research Award, Harvard Graduate School

2002-2006. Presidential Scholar and Cultural Diversity Scholar, Westmont College

Conferences and Talks

Invited Talks

2016. “Public Ethics, Politics and Sociobiology” Ethics in Science, University of Houston, Houston TX

2015. “The Logic of Progress in Evolution: Stephen Jay Gould, Race and Religion in the United States” History of Science Colloquium, Department of History, University of Chicago, Chicago IL

2015. “The Logic of Progress in Evolution: Stephen Jay Gould, Race and Religion in the United States” Department of Philosophy, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland OH

2015. “Evolution, Race and Gender: the Politics of Adaptationism in the U.S.” History of Biology Seminar at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA

2014. “Using the Past to Bring Science Education Into the Future” Key Note Address, National Science Teachers Association, Long Beach, CA

2014. “Evangelicals and Evolutionary Psychology” Anthropology Colloquium, Rice University, Houston TX

2014. “Godly Cavemen: Evolutionary Psychology and Evangelical Christianity” Provisions, Rice University, Houston TX

2014. “Stephen Jay Gould’s NOMA: Science, Religion, Race and Gender on the American Political Landscape” Scientific Orthodoxy, Mahindra Humanities Center, Harvard University, Cambridge MA

2012. “Defending Evolution.” American Studies Colloquium, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Refereed Conference Presentations

2016. “Evangelical Protestants and the Politics of Environmentalism in the United States, 1920-2010” American Society for Environmental History, Seattle, WA

2015. “1981: When Challenging Scientific Expertise Moved from the Left to the Right in the United States” History of Science Society, San Francisco, CA

2015. “The Epistemic Character and Political Use of Science in the United States” on Roundtable Panel “How Should the History of Science Engage with Political Activism?” History of Science Society, San Francisco, CA

2015. “Against Nature and God: The Evangelical Use of Biology Against Feminist and Lesbians, 1980-2105” American Academy of Religion, Atlanta, GA

2015. “How Did Gender and Sexuality Become Weapons on the American Religio- Political scene?” American Studies Association, Toronto, ON

2015. “Selfish Genes: A Tipping Point for Evolutionary Theory?” International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology, Montreal, QC

2013. “Wild at Heart: Finding Evolutionary Narratives in Evangelical Christianity.” Ways of Knowing: Conference on Religion, Harvard Divinity School

2013. “Stephen Jay Gould’s Secular Bible.” Society for the Social Studies of  Science, San Diego, CA

2012. “Claiming Darwin: Contests over Orthodoxy and Public Perception.” History of Science Society, San Diego, CA

2012. “Stephen Jay Gould and McLean v. Arkansas.” Between Scientists and Citizens, Iowa State University

2012. “Scientific Expertise and the Nature of Science in America.” Joint Atlantic Seminar for the History of Biology, University of Pennsylvania

2011. “Where Consensus lies: Stephen Jay Gould, Natural History Magazine and Sociobiology 1974-1980.” History of Science Society, Cleveland, OH

2011. “Popularizing Evolution: Stephen Jay Gould, Professionalism and Neo-Darwinism, 1972-2002.” Joint Atlantic Seminar for the History of Biology, Yale University

Workshops and Conferences Organized

2014. Scientific Orthodoxy, Science Religion and Culture Program, Harvard Divinity School and the Mahindra Humanities Center

2009. Joint Atlantic Seminar for the History of Biology, Harvard University

Panels Organized

2016. “Definitions of Science and Environmental Policy in Anglo-American contexts, 1850-2015” American Society for Environmental History, Seattle, WA

2015. “How Should the History of Science Engage with Political Activism?” History of Science Society, San Francisco, CA

2014. “Public Writing and the Academy” Ways of Knowing: Conference on  Religion, Harvard Divinity School

2013. “Gender at the Intersection of Science and Religion” Ways of Knowing: Conference on Religion, Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, MA

2012. “Disciplining and Popularizing in Evolutionary Biology after the Modern Synthesis” History of Science Society, San Diego, CA


Rice University, Instructor of Record

  • 2016 CSWGS, Race, Gender and Science in U.S. History
  • 2015 CSWGS, Introduction to the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality
  • 2015 CSWGS, Gender and Science
  • 2015 CSWGS, Science, Feminism and Christianity in the American Twentieth Century

Discussant, Graduate Seminars

  • 2015-2016 Department of Religious Studies, Mellon Seminar on Sex of the Spirit: Toward a History of Sexuality and Religion in American Culture
  • 2015 Department of Biosciences, Topics in Evolution: Speciation

Harvard University, Teaching Fellow

  • 2013 Summer Abroad Program, University of Cambridge, Science, Medicine and Religion in the Age of Skepticism
  • 2013 Department of the History of Science, Tutorial- Sophomore Year
  • 2012 Department of the History of Science, Tutorial- Junior Year
  • 2012 Departments of the History of Science and Women and Gender Studies, Sex, Gender and Evolution
  • 2011 & 2012 Freshman Seminar Program, Getting to Know Darwin
  • 2011 Department of History, Science and Religion in American Public Life

Senior Honors Thesis Adviser, Department of the History of Science and Program for Social Studies

  • 2014 Alex Stein
  • 2013 Zoe Weinberg (Hoopes Prize)
  • 2013 Adrianna Stanley
  • 2013 Sydney Green
  • 2012 Chelsea Link
  • 2012 Ebele Anidi
  • 2011 Julia Nunan-Sah

Westmont College

2004-2006 Lab instructor and teaching assistant, Departments of Biology and Chemistry

Engaged Scholarship

Digital Magazines

2014-2016 Editor-in-Chief of Cosmologics: a Magazine of Science, Religion and Culture Project of Harvard Divinity School

2010-2013 Contributor to Darwin and Gender and Natural Selections of Darwin Correspondence Project, Cambridge University

Grant Projects

2014-2015 Researcher and Advisor, Project on Gender and Sexual Violence in Faith Communities, Collaboration between IMA-World Health, the Program for Science, Religion and Culture at Harvard Divinity School and Sojourners International

K-12 Curriculum Development

  • 2014 Keynote speaker, National Science Teacher’s Association Conference, Long Beach CA
  • 2010-2013 Lead developer, Science Teaching modules
  • 2012-2014 Field Curriculum Testing, El Cajon, California public schools, Darwin Correspondence Project
  • 2010-2013 Researcher and mentor, Evolution and Race, Darwin for Schools


  • Rice University, Postdoctoral Fellow, 2014-2016, Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality
  • Harvard Divinity School, Fellow, 2013-2016, Program for Science, Religion and Culture

Professional Service

Rice University

  • 2015 & 2016   Graduate Student Symposium Advisor

Harvard University

  • 2014 Graduate Student Mentor, Harvard Divinity School
  • 2009-2011 Co-organizer and leader, Modern Sciences Working Group, Department of the History of Science
  • 2008-2010 Resident tutor and academic advisor, Winthrop House
  • 2008-2010 Winthrop House liaison to Harvard Foundation for Race Relations, and Office of Sexual Assault and Prevention

Member: History of Science Society, The Organization of American Historians, The Society for the Social Study of Science, National Women’s Studies Association, American Studies Association, American Historical Association, American Academy of Religion

Biological Research

Harvard University

  • 2009- 2010 Phylogenetic research, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
  • 2009 Entomological fieldwork, University of Barcelona, Spain

Westmont College

  • 2005 Student in field biology, Ausable Environmental Institute, Whidbey Island
  • 2004 National Science Foundation intern, Research Experience for Undergraduates, Gettysburg, PA

Departmental Social Media

College of Arts & Sciences