Megan Briers posing in the MPIWG hallway

Megan Rhian Briers

Predoctoral Fellow (Okt 2023-Mar 2027)

Women in Nineteenth-Century British and American Astronomical Fieldwork

Megan Briers’s project examines British and American women’s involvement in and contribution to astronomical fieldwork across the nineteenth century.

In the early nineteenth century, female relatives often accompanied male astronomers who were members of official parties or undertaking their own expeditions into the field. As the century progressed, more opportunities opened for women to independently travel, observe, and investigate astronomical phenomena, especially with the creation of the British Astronomical Association in 1890.

This project synthesizes archival sources generated during fieldwork, including official expedition reports, records written by women in the field, and the archives of male astronomers. Focusing on the practice of fieldwork, the project will extend our knowledge of female involvement in the physical sciences beyond the usual arenas of “computing” and popular writing work and provide a more nuanced picture of nineteenth-century astronomy that moves away from a sole concentration on male astronomers and their observing practices.

Megan completed a BSc in computer science and mathematics at the University of St Andrews before undertaking an MPhil in history and philosophy of science at the University of Cambridge. Her MPhil thesis assessed scientific instrument making across nineteenth-century Scotland, applying digital humanities methods on a database of scientific instrument makers.


Find Megan's profile on the Website of the International Max Planck Research School – "Knowledge and its Resources" (IMPRS-KIR).

Nachrichten & Presse

IMPRS „Knowledge and Its Resources: Historical Reciprocities“ begrüßt seine zweite Kohorte