Loyola Marymount University (LMU) history professor Carla Bittel has been awarded a $99,279 grant to fund a project titled “The Science of Women’s Rights.”

Bittel was awarded the grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Science and Society Program to study a central figure in the history of medicine.

Bittel’s project will provide historians of gender and science with the first full-length study of Mary Putnam Jacobi, “a practitioner of scientific medicine in late 19th century America whose work illustrates how women used specific knowledge in their pursuit of equality,” LMU officials said.

Bittel said her objective is to investigate the relationship between science and women’s rights activism and to study Jacobi’s biological knowledge.

The project will deepen the understanding of women physicians and the politics of women’s health in late 19th century America, and provide historical context for current debates about gender differences and the representation of women in scientific fields, LMU officials said.

Birute Vileisis, director of sponsored projects at LMU who helps faculty in their search for funding, said this is the first major grant given by the National Science Foundation to a Bellarmine College faculty member.

“I am truly honored to have an NSF grant because such awards provide critical support for historians who study science in social and historical contexts,” Bittel said.

“The Science of Women’s Rights” will be a teaching tool to better understand the history of women in the scientific disciplines, according to LMU.

The research will provide an opportunity for LMU to integrate interdisciplinary methods and subject matters into the curriculum and it may also help broaden the participation of women in the sciences by providing historical perspective on current debates about women practitioners, sex differences and female cognition, according to LMU.