The Paul Lawrence Farber Humanities Endowment Fund, created in memory of Dr. Farber, supports ongoing public lectures on OSU’s Corvallis campus by outstanding visiting scholars in the fields of Intellectual History, the History of Science, and the History of Medicine.

2023 Lecture

Surgery and Colonialism:
How the Church Decided that Life Begins at Conception

November 8 at 4 p.m.    The LaSells Stewart Center

Elizabeth O'Brien is an Assistant Professor of the History of Medicine and of Latin America at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research and teaching interweave the history of medicine with social and cultural history in order to examine themes of gender, race, religion, empire, and nation in the production of medical knowledge.

O'Brien will present on her recent research titled, "Surgery and Colonialism: How the Church Decided that Life Begins at Conception," and how the caesarean operation played a role in shaping Catholic claims about unborn life.

Q&A with Elizabeth O’Brien

Previous Farber Lectures

Finding Order in Nature: The Historian's Tradition from Mayr to Farber

An accessible review of significant trends in thinking about the history of natural history and the history of science.


For over four decades, Paul Lawrence Farber was a Professor of Modern Life Sciences and Intellectual History. His research examined the emergence of scientific disciplines such as ornithology, the naturalist tradition, and the development of evolutionary ethics. In addition, he promoted the use of history of science in teaching biology and held a joint appointment in the Department of Zoology. Dr. Farber passed away in 2021.