School of Social and Political Science

Dr Lawrence Dritsas

Job Title

Senior Lecturer and Head of Subject

a handsome photo of Lawrence Dritsas

Room number

G.39 (ground floor)

Building (Address)

Old Surgeons' Hall

Street (Address)

High School Yards

City (Address)


Country (Address)


Post code (Address)


Research interests

Research interests

Lawrence is a historian of science with a global focus. Within this large frame, he has specific expertise in the histories of the natural sciences and the history of environmental thought. He conducts research on scientific expeditions (particularly the exploration of Africa and Scottish explorers); the history of museum collections and in histories of scientific knowledge in relation to colonial empires.

Mastodon profile

Past Projects

Scottish collectors and collecting in central Africa, 1870–1930 (Principal Investigator)

Funded by Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. You can learn more about this project at National Museums Scotland.

Investigating Networks of Zoonisis Innovation (Associate Researcher)

Funded by European Research Council.

Science in the Central African Federation, 1953-64

Postdoctoral fellowship Funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

PhD Topics

I am happy to supervise research students interested in the history of science in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, particularly topics related to histories of: natural history, environmental science, exploration, imperialism, colonialism and museum collections. Please feel free to contact me directly.

Find out more about the programmes that I am involved with:

Current PhD Students

Kate Bowell: Narratives on Display: the History of Science and Technology Exhibit Labels at the National Museum of Scotland

Sam Reilly: After Empire: Nigerian Art in Glasgow’s Museums (University of St Andrews)

Completed PhD Students

Janelle Winters: Constructing Success in Global Health: The World Bank and the Onchocerciasis Control Programme in West Africa

Sergio Orozco-Echeverri: How do planets find their way? Laws of nature and the transformations of knowledge in the scientific revolution

Dayana Ariffin: American Imperialism, Anthropology and Racial Taxonomy in the Philippines, 1898-1946

Daniel Thorpe: Unbundling 'Indigenous Space Capability': Actors, Policy Positions and Agency in Geospatial Information Science in Southwest Nigeria

Vera Mugittu: Meeting the Social cost of Building Systems to Enable Innovation in Subsistence-based Agriculture: an Analysis of a DFID-funded Commercialisation Process of the Indigenous Poultry Inductry in Tanzania

Eva Hoffmann Computer Science and Higher Education in Afghanistan

Kevin Bardosh Public Health at the Margins: Local Realities and the Control of Neglected Tropical Disease in Eastern Africa

Shishusri Pradhan From Green Revolution to Green Gold: the evolution of the Indian National Mission on Biodiesel

Shaun Ruysenaar The Genesis and Anatomy of the Industrial Biofuels Strategy of South Africa.

Annalisa Urbano Imagining the Nation, Crafting the State: the politics of nationalism and decolonisation in Somalia

Liz Ng'ang'a (The Open University) Scientific Leadership in Developing Countries: A case study of the Academy of Sciences for Developing World (TWAS)


Lawrence Dritsas began his studies in the United States (BA, Penn State; MS, Virginia Tech) and has interdisciplinary training in the humanities and natural sciences. He volunteered as a secondary school biology teacher with the US Peace Corps in Malawi in the late 1990s. In 2005 he completed his PhD at the Centre of African Studies in Edinburgh with a study of the scientific exploration of Africa in the mid-nineteenth century. He is a Senior Lecturer in Science and Technology Studies.



I am course organiser or contribute lectures to the following undergraduate courses


Science, Nature and Environment (STIS08007)

Environmentalism: Past and Present (STIS08010)

Honours Elective

Science and Empire: from Enlightenment to Decolonisation, 1750-1965 (HIST10434)


Those interested in my areas of research may also want to look at the following taught MSc programme:

MSc in Science and Technology in Society

Staff Hours and Guidance

I am currently available to meet by appointment online or in-person, please send me an email.

Map link to Old Surgeons' Hall:

Publications by user content

Publication Research Explorer link
Dritsas L. Exploration fact and exploration fiction. In Finn E, Eschrich J, editors, Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities: A Collection of Space Futures. Tempe, AZ: ASU Center for Science and the Imagination. 2017. p. 105-113
Dritsas L, Haig J. An Archive of Identity: The Central African Archives and Southern Rhodesian history. Archival Science. 2014 Mar;14(1):35-54. Epub 2013 May 22. doi: 10.1007/s10502-013-9204-y
Dritsas L, Haig J. ‘Pilgrimage to Chipundu’: Livingstone's Legacy among Scottish Missionaries in Northern Rhodesia/Zambia, 1950s–1970s. Scottish Geographical Journal. 2013 Sept 9;129(3-4):243-257. doi: 10.1080/14702541.2013.826377
Dritsas L. Livingstone, natural science and the Zambesi Expedition. In Worden S, editor, David Livingstone: Man, Myth and Legacy . Edinburgh: NMS Enterprises Ltd. 2012
Dritsas L. Expeditionary Science: Conflicts of Method in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Geographical Discovery. In Livingstone DN, Withers CWJ, editors, Geographies of Nineteenth-Century Science. University of Chicago Press. 2011. p. 255-278
Dritsas L. Zambesi: David Livingstone and Expeditionary Science in Africa. I.B. Tauris, 2010. 256 p. (Tauris Historical Geography Series).
Dritsas L. Civilising missions, natural history and British industry: Livingstone in the Zambezi. Endeavour. 2006 Jun 30;30(2):50-54. Epub 2006 May 12. doi: 10.1016/j.endeavour.2006.04.002
Dritsas L. From Lake Nyassa to Philadelphia: a geography of the Zambesi Expedition, 1858–64 . British Journal for the History of Science. 2005 Mar;38(1):35-52. doi: 10.1017/S0007087404006454