Faculty and Staff


Lisa Onaga

Lisa Onaga specializes in the history of science and technology and the history of modern Japan, with a focus on the formation of the life sciences and materials science in relation to agriculture, animals, and textiles.

Select publications

  • ‘More than Metamorphosis: The Silkworm Experiments of Toyama Kametaro and his Cultivation of Genetic Thought in Japan’s Sericultural Practices, 1894-1918’ in Denise Phillips and Sharon Kingsland (Eds.) New Perspectives on the History of Life Sciences and Agriculture (Springer International Publishing, 2015). 
  • Ray Wu as “Fifth Business”: Deconstructing Collective Memory in the History of DNA Sequencing’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences Vol.46 (2014), pp.1-14.
  • Toyama Kametaro and Vernon Kellogg: Silkworm Inheritance Experiments in Japan, Siam, and the United States, 1900-1912’, Journal of the History of Biology, Vol.43, No.2 (2010), pp.215-264.


Lisa Onaga is an Assistant Professor of History of Science and Technology. In 2016 she is a Visiting Scholar in residence at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (Feb. – July). Her first book project, Anatomy of a Hybrid: The Entangled History of Biology, Silk, and Japan in the World, examines the formation of genetic and environmental knowledge that stemmed from the improvement and mass production of raw silk, a commodity crucial to the history of Japanese empire and industrialization. Her new project, ‘Biomaterial Matters,’ offers a different take on the emblematic silk cocoon spun by the domesticated silkworm and historicizes the creation of materials science innovations with purified silk proteins as part of a comparative history of the preservation of silkworm strains and silkcraft in postwar Japan and Italy. She also runs the Teach311 project, which addresses linguistic barriers to the development of pedagogical material in the humanities and social sciences about disasters, especially in Asia. Before joining NTU, she taught at the University of California in Los Angeles as a fellow at the Institute of Society and Genetics. With Fulbright, Social Science Research Council, and National Science Foundation support, she completed a Ph.D. in Science & Technology Studies at Cornell University. 

Future plans

Lisa Onaga especially looks forward to working with students with interdisciplinary research interests (for example, multispecies studies in the context of global ​Asia; life sciences, materials science, textiles and/or commodity culture in socio-historical perspective).