Professor Swanson is an accomplished scholar, legal practitioner and scientist whose
chief interests are in intellectual property law, the history of science, gender and
sexuality, medicine, and technology and legal history. She earned her PhD in the history
of science from Harvard University in 2009. 

Before coming to Northeastern, Professor Swanson was the Berger-Howe Visiting Fellow in
Legal History at Harvard Law School and associate professor at Earle Mack School of Law,
Drexel University. In addition to her numerous publications in law reviews and
peer-reviewed journals, Professor Swanson published a book on property in the human body
in 2014, in which she uses the history of law and medicine to explore contemporary
debates in the use of body parts. The book, Banking on the Body: The Market in Blood,
Milk and Sperm in Modern America, was published by Harvard University Press. 

Trained as a biochemist and molecular biologist at Yale University and the University of
California at Berkeley, Professor Swanson was a published research scientist before
entering law school, also at Berkeley. As an associate at Dechert LLP, she maintained an
intellectual property law practice, where she was involved in drafting and negotiating
technology licenses, advising biotech and computer services and software start-ups on
protection of their inventions and drafting and prosecuting patents as a registered
patent attorney. She clerked for Judge Cecil F. Poole, 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals
and Judge William H. Orrick Jr., US District Court for the Northern District of



The Doctor’s Dilemma: Paternalisms in the Medicolegal History of Assisted Reproduction and Abortion, Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics (2015)

This article analyzes the comparative history of the law and practice of abortion and assisted...



The End of Men, Again, School of Law Faculty Publications (2013)

The current attention to the “end of men” is occurring as men’s role as biological...



The Birth of the Sperm Bank, The Annals of Iowa (2012)


Adultery by Doctor: Artificial Insemination, 1890–1945, Chicago-Kent Law Review (2012)

In 1945, American judges decided the first court cases involving assisted conception. The challenges posed...



Contributions to Books

Patents, Politics and Abortion, Intellectual Property Law in Context: Law and Society Perspectives on IP, Forthcoming (2014)
Rubbing Elbows and Blowing Smoke: Gender and Science in the Mid-Nineteenth-Century Patent Office, Vulnerable Bodies/Embodied Boundaries, Forthcoming (2014)


Authoring an Invention: Patent Production in the Nineteenth-Century United States, Making and Unmaking Intellectual Property: Creative Production in Legal and Cultural Perspective, edited by Mario Biagioli, Peter Jaszi, Martha Woodmansee (2011)

In modern patent systems, an invention achieves legal existence as a text, the official words...


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