Devon Stillwell Headshot cropped

Interpreting the genetic revolution

Devon Stillwell

Award: 2015 Post-Doctoral Fellow

Devon is a Visiting Scholar in American Culture at the University of Michigan. She completed her Ph.D in History, and a Diploma in Gender Studies and Feminist Research, at McMaster University in 2013. From 2013 to 2015, Devon was a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at Johns Hopkins University in the History of Medicine. Her research centers on the overlapping histories of eugenics and genetics, bioethics, medical professionalization processes, gender cultures of science, and reproductive and disability rights. She has explored these themes primarily in relation to the history of genetic counseling and medical genetics in the contemporary United States.

Devon is currently preparing a book manuscript, Interpreting the Genetic Revolution: Genetic Counseling, Biological Risk, and the Shaping of Modern American Biopolitics. Her study shows how genetic counseling has driven both the scientific and social aspects of medical genetics, and is a key site through which researchers and everyday people have engaged with hereditarian theories of disease since 1900. This project highlights the role of genetic counseling in evolving biological concepts of risk, and shaping a host of 20th-century socio-cultural and political phenomena that are central to modern issues in genetic medicine and healthcare. Devon’s other research interests include genetic counseling, risk, and mid-century adoption practices; American eugenics, genetics, and hereditarianism in an international context; and Madge Thurlow Macklin and the history of women in medical genetics. Her work has appeared in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Social History of Medicine, and the Journal of Genetic Counseling, amongst other publications.