current affiliations

research interests

My research and teaching interests span the history of science, medicine, and the environment in the U.S. and the world, and reflect a commitment to environmental and social justice. Although I have published on a broad range of topics–from the history of ecology to animal studies, from the history of environment and health to the visual culture of science and the environment–my research is driven by an interest in understanding how political economy, cultural values and beliefs, and scientific knowledge intersect in shaping the interactions between people and environments over time.

current projects

Forgotten Paths of Empire: Firestone and the Promise of Liberia.
Forgotten Paths of Empire draws upon the fields of history of science, medical history, and environmental history to illuminate how science and medicine, natural resource development, and global economic and political relations opened the Liberian interior to Firestone Tire and Rubber Company while altering the political economy, environment, and lives of the Liberian people. The book offers a history of ecology and disease, of commerce and science, of racial politics and political maneuvering that brings to light the conditions of possibility in which a civil war and the worst Ebola outbreak in human history emerged.

The Land Beneath Our Feet
The Land Beneath Our Feet is a one-hour documentary that follows a young Liberian man, uprooted by war, who returns from the USA with never-before-seen footage of Liberia’s past. The uncovered footage is embraced as a national treasure. Depicting a 1926 corporate land grab, it is also an explosive reminder of eroding land rights in post-conflict Liberia. Today, more than 25 percent of land in Liberia has been granted by the government to multinational corporations for large-scale agricultural, mining, and logging concessions in the name of development. Liberia is a microcosm of the ways in which large-scale land concessions are transforming livelihoods and cultures across the world.

Remains of the Anthropocene: A Fragmentary History
What might a cabinet of curiosities for the age of the Anthropocene look like? What objects should it house, what issues should it speak to, what emotions might it invoke, and what are the range of meanings and moral tales that it might contain? How might certain kinds of objects make visible the uneven play of economic, material and social forces—past, present, and future—that have come to shape the relationships among human and non-human beings living in an era of extreme hydrocarbon extraction, extreme weather events, and extreme economic disparity? This volume, to be published by the University of Chicago in the fall of 2017, presents a catalog of objects and a series of reflective essays that collectively interrogate the limits and usefulness of the Anthropocene as a new epoch of human and geological history.


  • Rachel Carson Fellow, Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, 2016-2017.
  • William H. Welch Medal, American Association for the History of Medicine, 2012.
  • Ralph Gomory Prize, Business History Conference, 2012.
  • Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History Fellowship, Harvard University, 2012.
  • Vilas Research Professorship, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2011 – .
  • WARF Named Professorship, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2009 – 2014.
  • Outstanding Achievement Award, Wisconsin Library Association, 2008.
  • Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, Renewed Research Fellowship, 2008.
  • Vilas Associate Award, University of Wisconsin, 2006-2008.
  • Dean’s Professorship, College of Letters and Science, 2005-2010.
  • Aldo Leopold-Ralph W. Hidy Award, American Society for Environmental History, 2006.
  • John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow, 2004.
  • American Council of Learned Societies Fellow, 2004.
  • Glaxo-Smith-Kline Senior Fellow, National Humanities Center, 2004-2005.
  • National Library of Medicine Research Fellow, 2003.
  • Watson Davis and Helen Miles Davis Prize, History of Science Society, 2000.
  • Senior Fellow, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, 1999-2000.
  • Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung-Fellow, 1999-2000.
  • Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies Fellow, Princeton University, 1997-1998.
  • Gustave O. Arlt Award in the Humanities, Council of Graduate Schools, 1994.
  • Charlotte W. Newcombe Fellow, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, 1986-1987.
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