100 years on and still growing!

13-14 October 2017

University of Dundee and University of St Andrews

2017 marks 100 years since the publication of D’Arcy Thompson’s landmark book On Growth and Form – “the greatest work of prose in twentieth century science” (Stephen Jay Gould), written by possibly “the most learned polymath of all time” (Richard Dawkins).

One of the key works at the intersection of science and the imagination, it is a book that has inspired scientists, artists and thinkers as diverse as Alan Turing, C H Waddington, Claude Lévi Strauss, Norbert Wiener, Henry Moore and Mies van der Rohe. It pioneered the science of biomathematics, and has had a profound influence in art, architecture, anthropology, geography, cybernetics and many other fields.

To mark the occasion, a two-day interdisciplinary conference is being organised at the Universities of Dundee and St Andrews, where D’Arcy spent most of his career and where his surviving collections are held. It will feature a range of presentations covering every aspect of D’Arcy’s own work and the various fields that it has influenced. The conference will also include visits to the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum and the Bell Pettigrew Museum of Natural History and there will be a special preview of a new exhibition exploring On Growth and Form and its legacy.

We would like to invite you to submit proposals for any of the following:

  • 30-40 min presentations giving an overview of D’Arcy’s influence in a particular field (eg cybernetics or anthropology)
  • 20 min papers focusing on a more specific area of influence – eg a particular research area (past or present) that has been illuminated by his ideas, or a particular aspect of D’Arcy’s own career
  • 10 min spotlight talks describing your own current research in an area that connects to D’Arcy’s work
  • Themed sessions combining three 20 min or six 10 min presentations, as outlined above. Session chairs would be expected to get commitment from individual speakers in advance of their submission, and provide separate abstracts for each.

Proposals should take the form of an abstract of not more than 300 words, which should be sent to Matthew Jarron, University of Dundee Museum Services on museum@dundee.ac.uk by 2 May 2017.


The conference will be followed by a Newton Institute workshop hosted by the University of Dundee 16-20 October 2017 on Growth, Form and Self-Organisation in Living Systems – see https://www.newton.ac.uk/event/gfsw02