Academic genealogy

There are several projects out there to trace academic genealogy out there, the biggest one is probably the Academic Tree. The idea is to trace who was your supervisor’s supervisor’s … A while ago I looked into what this would look like for me. This being the social sciences, PhD advisors did not exist all the way back. I’m not sure how the Mathematics Genealogy Project go about this: do they include research assistants? (I did so for the ‘ancestors’ of David Glass.)

Funny enough, I’m not quite sure what this means. Sure, your PhD supervisor has a big impact on how you do research and how you see the world, but aren’t we more influenced by what we read and the courses we took before that, for example, and all the research we undertake after that. (I’m not even trying to think of causality here.) Is it at all relevant for me today that one of my academic ‘ancestors’ was quite outspoken against the eugenics movement when it was still quite popular? Whatever.

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