Francesco Luzzini

Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow (Feb 2018-Dez 2022)


Francesco Luzzini (PhD, History of Science, University of Bari; BS/MS, Natural Sciences, University of Milan) is Affiliate Scholar in Department I of the MPIWG. His research focuses on natural philosophy, the Earth and environmental sciences, and medicine in early modern Europe, with important forays into modern and contemporary contexts. He is Contributing Editor for the Isis Bibliography of the History of Science and Councillor for Earth Sciences History, the journal of the History of Earth Sciences Society. Among his previous positions, he was Mellon Fellow (2020) and Postdoctoral Fellow (2015–2016) at the University of Oklahoma, Visiting Fellow (2016) at MPIWG Berlin, and Research Fellow (2012, 2014) at the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City. He taught history of biology, history of geology, and history of medicine at the universities of Milan and East Piedmont.

Within the Anthropocene Project, Francesco’s research focuses on a historical period (sixteenth to early eighteenth century) which is conventionally described as the “prehistory” of Anthropocene, that is, the period before human activities began to significantly impact geologically and ecologically on the Earth’s environment. Still, it was during this period that natural philosophy, medicine, experimentalism, and traditional technologies started to interact significantly, leading to the definition of new scientific practices and methods. Relying on field research, the newborn Earth sciences gained knowledge (and most of their terminology) from a number of technical and practical activities such as mining, chemistry, metallurgy, engineering, hydraulics, and even pottery and farming. This interdisciplinary cross-pollination set the stage for the explosive rise of human technologies, and the dramatic impact they would exert on the environment in the following centuries.

Francesco’s current project (“Sounding the Depths of Providence: Mineral (Re)generation and Human-Environment Interaction in the Early Modern Period”) focuses on the early modern debate on the origin of mineral ores and on the main themes, voices, and concurrent factors—scientific, philosophical, cultural, geographical, religious, social, political, economic—that shaped it. In doing so, the project aims to assess how the early modern understanding of mineral generation influenced our perception of natural exploitability, renewability, and exhaustibility—and, more generally, the development of the Earth sciences and the emergence of humans as geological and environmental agents.



  • Jan 2017–: Research Affiliate, Department I, MPIWG (Berlin, DE)
  • Jan–Apr 2020: Andrew W. Mellon Fellow, University of Oklahoma (Norman, OK, USA)
  • Oct 2017–Sep 2019: Research Fellow, MuSe-Museum of Sciences (Trento, ITA)
  • 2017: Lecturer in History of Early Modern Medicine, University of East Piedmont (Novara, ITA)
  • Jan 2015–Dec 2016: Edition Open Sources Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Oklahoma Libraries (Norman, OK, USA)
  • Jul–Dec 2016: Visiting Scholar, Department I, MPIWG (Berlin, DE)
  • Oct 2015–Oct 2016: Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Insubria (Varese, ITA)
  • 2012–2015: Adjunct Professor, History of Biology, University of Milan (Milan, ITA)
  • 2014: Research Fellow, Linda Hall Library (Kansas City, MO, USA)
  • 2012: Research Fellow, Linda Hall Library (Kansas City, MO, USA)
  • 2010–2012: Adjunct Professor, History of Geology, University of East Piedmont (Vercelli, ITA)
  • 2010–2013: Postdoctoral Fellow, University of East Piedmont (Vercelli, ITA)



  • 2020–: Affiliate Fellow, University of Oklahoma, Department of the History of Science
  • 2017–: Contributing Editor (special editor for Italian language sources), Isis Current Bibliography of the History of Science (Isis CB,
  • 2017–: Co-editor (History of Science), Il Protagora, Journal
  • 2016: Councilor, The History of the Earth Sciences Society/Earth Sciences History, Journal of the HESS
  • 2009–: Scientific Manager, Online Inventory of Antonio Vallisneri’s Correspondence (
  • 2015–2018: Affiliate Scholar, ISCH COST Action “Reassembling the Republic of Letters, 1500–1800 (
  • 2012–2017: Column Editor, Acque Sotterranee, Italian Journal of Groundwater


The Water City: The Political Epistemology of Hydrogeological Praxis


The Earth Sciences and Field Research in Early Eighteenth-century Italy


Selected Publications

Luzzini, Francesco, ed. (2022). Quando il mondo scalò il sublime: scienza e storia nel primo Memoriale dell’Albergo Nave d’Oro di Predazzo (1820-1875). Trento: MUSE, Museo delle Scienze.

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Luzzini, Francesco (2022). “Review of: Gemelli, Benedino (Ed.): Giovanni Pietro Orelli Barnaba di Locarno. Opera Medica (1711). Milano: Mimesis 2018.” Nuove lezioni bellinzonesi 1: 171–176.

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Luzzini, Francesco (2021). “(Re-)Shaping a Method: Field Research and Experimental Legacy in Vallisneri’s ‘Primi Itineris Specimen’ (1705).” In Connecting Territories: Exploring People and Nature 1700–1850, ed. S. Boscani Leoni, S. Baumgartner, and…

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Luzzini, Francesco (2020). “Sounding the Depths of Providence: Mineral (Re)Generation and Human-Environment Interaction in the Early Modern Period.” Earth Sciences History 39 (2): 389–408.

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Presentations, Talks, & Teaching Activities

Adjunct Professor of History of Geology

University of East Piedmont

Adjunct Professor of History of Biology

University of Milan

Lecturer in History of Early Modern Medicine

University of East Piedmont