Paula Findlen's main interests are the scientific revolution, natural history before Darwin, and the history of medicine; her regional emphasis is on Italy in the age of Galileo. She is a scholar of the history of science and medicine and teaches history of science before it was "science" (which is, after all, a nineteenth-century word). Findlen specializes in the rise of modern science, medicine, and technology during the European Renaissance, especially in Italy, by looking at the intersection of science, art, and, technology.
Findlen received her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley and taught at the University of California at Davis and Harvard before coming to Stanford in 1996. She is the author of the award-winning Possessing Nature: Museums, Collecting, and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy (1994), which received the 1995 Howard Marraro Prize in Italian History and the 1996 Pfizer Prize for best book in History of Science. She is finishing up her book project In the Shadow of Newton: Laura Bassi and Her World, and has recently begun two others, The Shadows of Galileo: Science and Religion in Seventeenth-Century Italy and After Leonardo: The Artist as Scientist in Early Modern Italy.
In 2004, she received the Margaret W. Rossiter History of Women in Science Prize for her article, "The Scientist's Body: The Nature of a Woman Philosopher in Enlightenment Italy," which was judged the best article published in the history of women in science in the preceding three years. In addition to numerous articles on women and science, historical thought in the Renaissance, and the lives and works of Athanasius Kircher, Isaac Newton and Laura Bassi, Findlen is the recipient of numerous prizes and fellowships, including Guggenheim and Getty Fellowships, and she has been a visiting professor at Pontificia Universidade Catolica de São Paulo in Brazil, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the University of Groningen, and Harvard University.
* In the Shadow of Newton: Laura Bassi and Her World. Under completion, advance contract with Knopf/Vintage.
* A Fragmentary Past: The Making of Museums in Late Renaissance Italy. Manuscript completed.
* Italy's Eighteenth Century: Gender and Culture in the Age of the Grand Tour. Ed. with Wendy Wassyng Roworth and Catherine Sama. Stanford University Press, 2009.
* The Contest for Knowledge: Debates over Women’s Learning in Eighteenth-Century Italy. Agnesi, Maria Gaetana, Diamante Medaglia Faini, Aretafila Savini de' Rossi, and Accademia de' Ricovrati. Eds. and Trans. Rebecca Messbarger and Paula Findlen. University of Chicago Press, 2005.
* Athanasius Kircher: The Last Man Who Knew Everything. Ed. Paula Findlen. Routledge, 2003.
* Beyond Florence: The Contours of Medieval and Early Modern Italy. With Michelle Fontaine and Duane Osheim. Stanford University Press, 2003.
* Merchants and Marvels: Commerce, Science, and Art in Early Modern Europe. Ed. with Pamela Smith. Routledge, 2002.
* The Italian Renaissance: Essential Readings. Ed. Paula Findlen. Blackwell Publishers, 2002.