I am Distinguished Professor of Environmental History at Michigan Technological University. In 2021, I was awarded the Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Society for Environmental History, the highest honor in the profession. I am author of five books on climate history, Great Lakes history, forest and wetland history, and toxics history.
My most recent book is Climate Ghosts: Migratory Species in the Anthropocene (Brandeis University Press 2021), based on my Mandel Lectures in the Humanities at Brandeis University. Climate Ghosts asks: How has climate change affected three iconic migratory species of the northern forest: woodland caribou, Great Lakes sturgeon, and loons? These species were once abundant in the Great Lakes region, but habitat change, toxics, and over-hunting decimated their populations by the early 20th century. Conservation efforts recovered breeding populations of loons and sturgeon, but woodland caribou are now ghost species throughout much of their former range. On a few islands along the north coast of Lake Superior, populations persist, but predators threaten them--and predator populations are driven by complex relationships between forest industrialization, energy development, moose populations, and climate change. How have the relationships between humans and these other species been influenced by climate change? How do animal migrations influence the mobilizations of toxics into distant spaces, and how does climate change in turn affect toxic mobility? Can restoring these species help in the fight against climate change?
This project was funded by a variety of sources, including the generosity of the Mandel Foundation. In Fall 2019, I was Mellon Visiting Scholar in Environmental Humanities at the Center for Environmental Futures, University of Oregon, allowing me ample time to write. In spring 2020, I was the Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Interdisciplinary Sustainability Solutions at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Canada. Additional research has been funded by a National Science Foundation standard research grant 1921911: The New Mobilities of the Anthropocene.
A current CV is available here.
MORE REINDEER/CARIBOU RESEARCH
Additional reindeer/caribou research, storymaps, art, and popular essays that I've written are available here and across the website
Watch my ASEH Distinguished Scholar Lecture on YouTube:
I condemn recent instances of transphobic hate speech at Michigan Tech, while recognizing the 1st amendment rights of all to express their opinions, however vile. I hope all members of the Tech community will join me in voicing their full support for LGBTQ students in their struggles against hate.
Over 140 faculty and staff have signed the statement of support attached below. Many others have told us that they wish to sign the letter, but they fear retaliation from administration.
I am also working on reindeer and caribou translocations across the circumpolar north, exploring the ways the people and reindeer have shaped each other, and been shaped by each other, in times of rapid environmental and political change. One part of this research includes work with Tsaatan reindeer herders in Mongolia. Another part includes work with Saami herders in Sapmi.
I am also committed to increasing diversity in the field of environmental history, particularly in syllabi.
My previous books include: