Professor Swanson is an accomplished scholar, legal practitioner and scientist whose chief interests are in intellectual property law, gender and sexuality, the history of science, 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 Drexel University School of Law. 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 California. 

Fields of Expertise

  • Copyright Law
  • History of science, medicine and technology.
  • Intellectual Property
  • Legal History 
  • Patent Law

Selected Works

Selected Articles

Selected Chapters

  • “Patents, Politics and Abortion,” Intellectual Property Law in Context: Law and Society Perspectives on IP (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press) (Willliam T. Gallagher and Debora J. Halbert, eds.,)
  •  “Rubbing Elbows and Blowing Smoke: Gender and Science in the Mid-Nineteenth-Century Patent Office,” Vulnerable Bodies/Embodied Boundaries (forthcoming, Springer) (Lisa Kall, ed.,)
  • “Authoring an Invention: Patent Production in the Nineteenth-Century United States,” Making and Unmaking Intellectual Property: Creative Production in Legal and Cultural Perspective. (University of Chicago Press, 2011) (Mario Biagioli, Peter Jaszi, and Martha Woodmansee, eds.,)

Online Commentary