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“From Myth to Matter: Reading Like An Alchemist in Early Modern Europe”

Jennifer M. Rampling, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, History of Science Program, Princeton University

Date: Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Location: Frick Chemistry Laboratory, Princeton University
Time: Mixer 5:30 pm; Lecture 6:30 pm followed by dinner

Abstract: How did early modern alchemists set about trying to make the philosophers’ stone? Often, their first step was to turn to the instructions written by their predecessors. Yet alchemical writing often seems to obfuscate more than it explains: omitting vital information, disguising ingredients and practices behind cover names, and describing outcomes that seem, to modern eyes, impossible. In this talk, I shall discuss how European alchemists approached medieval texts and images with a view to reconstructing their practical content —interpreting code names and allegories in order to extract meaningful chemical recipes. I will also report on my own attempts to follow these instructions, by trying out alchemical experiments in a modern laboratory setting.

Biography: Jennifer M. Rampling is historian of medieval and early modern science and medicine, specialising in alchemy. She is currently completing her first book, which studies the strategies used by English alchemists over four centuries to decipher and reconstruct chemical practices. Formerly she was Editor of Ambix, the leading history of chemistry journal. She teaches in Princeton’s Program in History of Science, and is a faculty member of PRISM, where she will be working with students this Spring to reconstruct some early alchemical recipes.

Reservations: The meeting will be held in Frick Laboratory, Princeton University. The social mixer will begin at 5:30 pm in the CaFe area of Taylor Commons. The lecture will be held in the Auditorium at 6:30 pm followed by dinner in Taylor Commons (CaFe area). Frick Laboratory is located at the east end of the pedestrian bridge on Washington Rd, adjacent to the Weaver Track and Field Stadium. Parking is available in Lot 21, corner of Faculty Road and Fitzrandolph Road or other lots along Ivy Lane (see The seminar is free and open to the public. Reservations are required for dinner, which is $20 ($10 for students). Please contact Louise Lawter at or 215-428-1475 by March 23 to make reservations. Reservations must be canceled no later than March 27 to avoid being billed for the dinner.

“Understanding Obesity: A Multidisciplinary Challenge”

Dr. Jason Brett, MD; Senior Medical Director; Clinical, Medical and Regulatory for Novo Nordisk in North America
Dr. Gabriel Smolarz, MD; Medical Director for Obesity for Novo Nordisk in North America

Date: Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Time: 12:00-12:30 pm – Lunch Served, 12:30-1:30 pm – Lecture, Q&A, and Discussion
Location: Education Building, Room 212

The third of four lectures of the TCNJ–Novo Nordisk Lecture Series hosted and co-sponsored by the School of Science; the School of Business; and the School of Nursing, Health, and Exercise Science.

Obesity has been recognized as a chronic disease by the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), and other professional organizations. Nevertheless, compared to heart disease or diabetes, it is not treated as such. Modern science has uncovered a biological basis to obesity, which is underappreciated, even among healthcare professionals. According to The Obesity Society and Endocrine Society, there are multiple effective modalities to treat obesity, including lifestyle interventions and behavioral modification (which are foundational therapies), anti-obesity medications, minimally-invasive devices, and weight-loss surgery. There is much research ongoing in the field of obesity to identify novel targets that can ultimately lead to enhanced therapies that are safe and effective.