Candida Sánchez Burmester

Tracing claims in nanobiology: scientific practices and interactions at conferences and laboratories

Maastricht University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, History Department,

Supervisors: Prof. Cyrus Mody, Dr. Willem Halffman, Dr. Alexandra Supper


BA: ‘Liberal Arts and Sciences’ at University College Maastricht (cum laude)

MA: Research master in ‘Cultures of Arts, Science and Technology’ at Maastricht University (cum laude)

MA thesis: From Development to Sustainable Development: Latin America and the Limits to Growth Debate, 1961-1987

Summary PhD Project

The doctoral research project focuses on the circulation of erroneous and over-stated claims at nanobiology conferences. I aim to identify key conferences, which facilitated the emergence of the interdisciplinary field of nanobiology starting in the early 1980s and contributed to the continuation of this field until today. My goal is to examine the presentation of claims and counter-claims at these conferences from a historical and ethnographic angle. I will conduct archival research in order to trace the origins of these claims and their relations to past conferences. Additionally, I will employ ethnographic research at conferences in order to analyse the contemporary situation of these controversies. Furthermore, I aim to conduct laboratory ethnography with nanobiology teams who try to replicate experiments that test whether nanoparticles can cross the human cell membrane, a claim that has led to big promises, but has been contested. With my doctoral research, I seek to provide empirical insights to (the failure of) scientific corrections and hope to contribute to academic efforts to foster error correction and open debates.


  • Sánchez Burmester, Candida F. forthcoming. “Zebras: On Limits and Margins of Biomedical Knowledge.” In Making Sense of Medicine: Materiality and the Reproduction of Medical Knowledge, edited by John Nott and Anna Harris. Bristol: Intellect Books. (passed internal and external peer review)
  • Sánchez Burmester, Candida F. 2021. Conference Report: Doing Energy History in Times of Transition. Energy History Working Group of Tensions of Europe, Berlin: H-Soz-Kult.