Dr. Philip K. Wilson

Dr. Phillip K. Wilson

Rogers-Stout 119

Department Chair

B.G.S., 1983, University of Kansas
M.A., 1987, The Johns Hopkins University
Ph.D.. 1992, University of London

About Dr. Wilson


Philip K. Wilson, MA (Johns Hopkins), Ph.D. (London), post-doctoral research affiliate (Yale), is an historian of science and medicine who joined East Tennessee State University in Fall 2013. Previously, he served as Professor of Humanities and Director of the Doctors Kienle Center for Humanistic Medicine at Penn State University's College of Medicine in Hershey.  His wide-ranging scholarship within medicine's heritage includes the history of the body, disease, human reproduction, eugenics and medical genetics, human disability, intersections of spirituality and medicine, and Darwinian medicine. Within the sciences, his scholarship focuses upon the history of the geosciences, the life sciences, science versus pseudoscience, and the scientific investigations into chocolate's potential health benefits. He is a regularly invited keynote and guest speaker as well as conference participant at local, state, national, and international venues. Wilson has, on multiple occasions, also served as Visiting Professor of the History of Science and Medicine at the University of Hawai'i – Manoa where, in addition to teaching, he continues to explore two particular aspects of Hawaiian history: 1) comparing the significance of the volcano Kilauea during the nineteenth century from the perspectives of naturalists, missionaries, and native Hawaiians, and 2) uncovering nineteenth-century perspectives about the relationship between heredity and disease among the healers and sufferers in Hawaiian culture. Wilson currently serves as an elected Council Member for the Pacific Circle: The Scientific Commission of the International Union for the History and Philosophy of Science.

Wilson edited a five-volume edited series entitled, Childbirth: Changing Ideas and Practices in Britain and America 1600 to the Present, book-length biographies on the English proponent of cold bathing, Sir John Floyer, the Enlightenment London surgical reformer, Daniel Turner, Charles Darwin's illustrious grandfather, the polymath, Dr Erasmus Darwin, and the Swiss-American founder of geohistorical education in the US, Arnold Guyot. Currently, he is pursuing a co-authored biography on the life of the early 20th-Century "U.S. Eugenics Agent," Harry H. Laughlin and his work at the Eugenics Record Office in Cold Spring Harbor, NY. Wilson has written many peer-reviewed articles in medical, educational, and historical journals and has served as the biomedical and health editor for Encyclopaedia Britannica. He is also manuscript and book reviewer for over 20 journals within his fields of study.

Areas of Academic Specialty  

History of Medicine

History of Science

History of Life Sciences

History of Geosciences




Selected Publications


Philip K. Wilson and W. Jeff Hurst. Chocolate as Medicine: A Quest Over the Centuries (Cambridge, UK: Royal Society of Chemistry). 2012.

Dr. Wilson's Book


Glaciers, God & Geography: Neuchatel's Arnold Guyot (1808-1884) at Princeton (Swiss American Historical Society, Morgantown, PA: Masthoff Press, In Preparation). 

Anna Seward's Life of Erasmus Darwin
Philip K. Wilson, Ph.D., co-edited with Elizabeth A. Dolan and Malcolm Dick, (Berwin Books Ltd., Warwickshire, United Kingdom), 2010.



"Reading the Skin, Discerning the Landscape: Geohistorical Descriptions of the Human Surface," in Jonathan Reinarz and Kevin Siena, eds, Scratching the Surface: The History of Skin, Its Diseases and Their Treatments (London: Pickering and Chatto, Studies for the Social History of Medicine Series, In Press). 2013, pp. 209-220.

"Championing a U.S. Clinic of Human Heredity: Post-War Constructs Built upon Pre-War Concepts," in B. Gausemeier, S. Müller-Willie, and E. Ramsen, eds, Human Heredity in the Twentieth Century (London: Pickering and Chatto, In Press).

"Conflict and Cooperation of Science and Spiritualism in Late 19th- and Early 20th Century Anglo -American Writings," in Christopher Moreman, ed, The Spiritualist Movement: Speaking with the Dead in America and Around the World (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2013) Vol. 2, pp. 145-158.

"Cocoa, Chocolate and Health: Historical Perspectives," in Rodolfo Paoletti and Andrea Poli, Ario Conti and Francesco Visioli, eds, Chocolate and Health (Milan: Springer Verlag, 2012), pp. 1-16. 2012.


Books by Philip K. Wilson

Selected Publications