Rivers Singleton, Jr., Ph.D.


Research Interests

My general research/academic interests are in the various ways that science, especially biology, and society interact with each other. Thus, I am concerned with questions about:

  1. the nature and limits of scientific knowledge;
  2. the impact of science on society and culture and conversely how society and culture influence science;
  3. the ways that scientific disciplines evolve;
  4. ethical issues created by the practice of science.

More specifically, I am currently involved in a major study involving the scientific career of the American biochemist, Harland Goff Wood. Wood, who lived from 1907 to 1991, was a major scientific figure of this century and made significant contributions to the discipline of biochemistry. My major goals in this study are to use Wood's research contributions to understand:

  1. the forces that influenced the evolution of biochemistry in the United States during the middle decades of the 20th century;
  2. different ways that scientists collaborate with each other;
  3. various "styles" that individual scientists use in practicing science.

This project is significant for numerous reasons. First, Wood was one of the most important scientists in this century. His graduate work at Iowa State involved fermentation analyses of the propionic acid bacteria. At the end of his career, he was analyzing the structure of and sequencing the genes coding for proteins involved in the fermentation. Thus, his career is almost a perfect reflection of the way biochemistry developed in this country. Of equal importance, however, his life provides an excellent paradigm for the ways that many individuals matured and worked as scientists during a major portion of this century.

Wood's career is also important because it illustrates the manifold roles that scientists serve in society. As chair of the Biochemistry Department at Western Reserve University (WRU) Medical School, Wood helped develop a biochemistry program of international distinction and played a central role in helping to develop and implement the innovative WRU medical curriculum. Like most scientists active in their profession Wood played an important, and influential, role in various scientific societies and as an editor of scientific journals.

Finally, this project is significant because it is impossible to study the work of any scientist in vacuo. Modern scientists work in a community with its own methods, values, and mores. An important aspect of this communal dimension of science is the role that mentoring plays in a scientist's training. In order to understand the maturation of Wood as a scientist, it is essential to understand both the relationship that existed between his mentor, Chester Werkman at Iowa State, and the way that Wood served as mentor for several generations of scientists.

Selected Publications

  • Singleton R. Kalckar, Herman Moritz. In: Koertge N, ed. New Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Vol. 4. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons; 2007:71–77.
  • Singleton R. Ochoa, Severo. In: Koertge N, ed. New Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Vol. 5. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons; 2007:305–312.
  • Singleton R. Wood, Harland Goff. In: Koertge N, ed. New Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Vol. 7. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons; 2007:345–349.
  • Singleton R. From bacteriology to biochemistry: Albert Jan Kluyver and Chester Werkman at Iowa State. J Hist Biol. 2000;33(1):141–180.
  • Singleton R. Transgenic Animals and Biotechnology: An Overview. In: Murray TH, Mehlman MJ, eds. Encyclopedia of Ethical, Legal and Policy Issues in Biotechnology. New York: John Wiley and Sons; 2000.
  • Singleton R. Robert Earle Buchanan: an unappreciated scientist. Yale J Biol Med. 1999;72(5):329–339.
  • Singleton R. Transgenic Mammals: Science and Ethics. In: Gonder JC, Prentice ED, Russow L, eds. Genetic Engineering and Animal Welfare: Preparing for the 21st Century. Greenbelt, MD: Scientists Center for Animal Welfare; 1999.
  • Singleton R. Harland Goff Wood: An American Biochemist. In: Semenza G, Jaenicke R, eds. Comprehensive Biochemistry: History of Biochemistry. Vol. 40. Amsterdam: Elsevier; 1997.
  • Singleton R. Heterotrophic CO2-fixation, mentors, and students: the Wood-Werkman ReactionS. J Hist Biol. 1997;30(1):91–120.
  • Singleton R. Is Modern Biology Molecular-Biology? Perspect Biol Med. 1995;38(4):668–672.
  • Donnelley S, McCarthy CR, Singleton R, et al. The Brave-New-World Of Animal Biotechnology. Hastings Center Report. 1994;24(1):S1–S31.
  • Singleton R. Transgenic Organisms, Science, and Society in The Brave New World of Animal Biotechnology. Hastings Center Report (Special Supplement). 1994;24:S4.
  • Singleton R. Whither goest vivisection? Historical and philosophical perspectives. Perspect Biol Med. 1994;37(4):576–594.
  • Singleton R. Whither goest vivisection? Legislative and regulatory perspectives. Perspect Biol Med. 1994;38(1):41–57.
  • Odom JM, Singleton R, eds. Sulfate-reducing Bacteria: Contemporary Perspectives. New York: Springer-Verlag; 1993.
  • Singleton R. Introduction to the Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria. In: Odom JM, Singleton R, eds. Sulfate-reducing Bacteria: Contemporary Perspectives. New York: Springer-Verlag; 1993.

Associate Professor

Phone: (302) 831-1146

Fax: (302) 831-1033

Email: oneton@udel.edu

Office: 233 Wolf Hall

Department of Biological Sciences
Wolf Hall
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716


  • B.S. - Trinity University
  • M.S. - Michigan State University
  • Ph.D. - University of Kansas
  • Postdoctoral - Case Western Reserve University
  • Postdoctoral - NASA, Ames Research Center