I am an environmental historian, but I write about lots of things here. This is my personal website. Check out my (forthcoming) website, Enviro-History, for a more polished, public-oriented website about environmental history.

Recent Posts

  • Lead Wars -- Review Essay

    I wrote a long review essay on Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner's excellent book Lead Wars. Among other things, I discuss the uncertain connection between social movements and primary public health prevention, and the tensions between public health "technological fixes" and broader social reform. You can read the review at H-Net or in this blog post.

  • National Distinguished Dissertation Award in Humanities and the Fine Arts

    I was recently honored to receive the award from the Council of Graduate Schools/ProQuest for the distinguished dissertation in Humanities and the Fine Arts. Here is the write up from my alma mater -- "History Grad Student Writes Nation's Top Humanities Dissertation."

  • Renewing Inequality Digital Humanities Project

    The Digital Scholarship Lab has published "Renewing Inequality," a set of interactive maps, graphs, and photos about urban renewal -- a deeply problematic federal-local program that spanned from the 1940s to the 1970s. I helped conceptualize this project as a Mellon Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the DSL. Check out the blog post for links to coverage of the project.

  • Reflection on Environmental Science and the Humanities in the Trump Administration

    Public Lab, a really cool community for DIY investigations of local environmental health and justice issues, asked me to contribute a piece reflecting on what it's like to be an environmental historian in the new Trump Administration. As I note, history matters because the administration justifies it's radical approach to environmental policy through history (wrongly, but nevertheless), and also because history helps put the current administration in context (by comparing it to Nixon, Reagan, and the Bushes, for example). Finally, the new administration threatens scientific research, but also the humanities -- we need solidarity to resist it. You can read the full essay at Public Lab or in this blog post.

  • How A Law to Reduce Paperwork Created a Powerful, Shadowy Bureaucracy that Anti-Regulation Zealots Love

    One of the most critical changes in regulatory politics in the last forty years has been the rising power of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). Most Americans have never heard of it, even though it deeply affects their lives through its often anti-regulatory actions. I give an overview of OIRA's history, and its potentially scary future, in this article for the Washington Post. I also point out OIRA rhymes with Elvira.

  • Environmental Injustice in the Early Trump Administration

    The Environmental Data & Governance Initiative, a group of academics and computer scientists I work with, published a great report on environmental injustice in the Trump administration, which I had a very small hand in contributing to. You can read the full report, "Pursuing a Toxic Agenda," here.

  • Scott Pruitt and EPA Originalism

    The new Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, has called for a "back-to-basics" approach to agency, or what he calls EPA "originalism." In articles this month in the Washington Post and The Guardian, I explain why Pruitt's position, which implicitly says something about the EPA's history, is flat-out wrong.

  • Suburban Commuters, Urban Polluters

    One of the most profound stories of environmental injustice in the twentieth century emerged out of the interactions of two great migrations—the migration of rural African Americans to cities and the movement to the suburbs—and one transformative technology: the automobile. Published in Edge Effects.

  • Confessions of Ecocide

    For years, I sprayed Tordon along Forest Service roads and up and down wilderness trails in Montana. My targets were problematic plants, usually referred to as "invasive species" and "noxious weeds." Many environmental groups lauded, supported, and participated in these efforts. But environmentalists in the 1960s would have been horrified by the widespread use of Tordon. In fact, they were.

  • The Next President Should Try to Eliminate Child Lead Poisoning

    The incoming President should fix public health surveillance problems and expand funding to eliminate lead hazards.

  • Melrose Easter's Hunch

    The story of a layman who helped discover the cause of the first child lead poisoning epidemic, and how his contribution was almost completely lost to history. Published in We're History.

  • What the First National Lead Poisoning Crisis Can Teach Us about the Flint Water Crisis

    Knowledge of past episodes of lead poisoning in the country can allow historians, as well as government officials, to situate lead poisoning and other public health problems in broader political and economic structures. Doing so is good history and good politics. Published in American Historical Association Today.

  • Suburbanization and Inner City Lead Poisoning

    The United States has heavily subsidized suburban home ownership for more than 80 years. This policy helped many Americans, but hurt others, including families still trapped in homes where they are at risk of lead poisoning. Today, as many observers hail a U.S. urban renaissance, the persistence of lead poisoning highlights a continuing need for more investment in housing and health in our inner cities. Published in The Conversation and The Ecologist.

  • Hello There

    In case you'd like a personal introduction.