Mary Bailes

Mary Bailes


Research Title

Vasilii Vasil'evich Dokuchaev and scientific communities in late tsarist Russia

Research Summary

My PhD research is on the topic of scientific communities in late tsarist St Petersburg, with a main focus on Vasilii Vasil'evich Dokuchaev (1846 -1903), and his students.  I chiefly focus on the period c. 1875-1895. 

Dokuchaev is best known for his work on the Russian chernozem (black earth), as the founder of genetic pedology, and for his theory of natural zones.  His students included N. M. Sibirtsev, K. D. Glinka, V. I. Vernadskii, F. Iu. Levinson-Lessing, and P. V. Ototskii.


The PhD is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.  This is a doctoral studentship attached to the AHRC project, ‘The Landscape Concept in Russian Scientific Thought c1880s – 1991’.  The project's Principal Investigators are Dr Jonathan Oldfield and Dr Denis Shaw (University of Birmingham).

Archival and library research in St Petersburg between 2011 and 2013 was made possible by an AHRC Research Support Training Grant and a travel award from the Centre for Russian, Central and East European Studies (CRCEES).


Book review: The Russia Reader. Scotland-Russia Forum Review, No. 24, December 2010.


"Earth and Environment in late Tsarist Russia: The research school of Vasilii Vasil'evich Dokuchaev (1846-1903)".  Postgraduate Conference of the British Society for the History of Science, Cambridge, January 2016.

"У вас комиссии, а у нас соловьи поют!”  Rural-urban exchange in late 19th century Russian scientific communities. British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES) Annual Conference, Cambridge, April 2012.  

Theory, metaphor and translation:  why language matters to historians of science.  Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies ‘New Directions’ Conference, Glasgow, April 2010. 


GTA: CEES 1A ‘Central and Eastern Europe in the Age of Stalin’

Additional Information


My undergraduate degree was in Archaeology and Anthropology (University of Oxford).  I also have a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology (University of St Andrews) and a Postgraduate Diploma in Russian Language from the University of Glasgow.  I first visited the Russian Federation in 2003 when I spent 10 months in St Petersburg, and have since spent time working in various parts of Russia and Kazakhstan. 

CRCEES Internship

In 2012 I undertook a CRCEES funded internship at the Scotland Russia Forum researching possibilities for Russian teaching in Scottish schools.

Conference Panel

Organiser of the conference panel Science in 19th century Russia - regional, national and transnational exchange. British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES) Annual Conference, April 2012.  

This panel brought together international participants and was funded by a grant from CRCEES.