I am Distinguished Professor of Environmental History at Michigan Technological University. My most recent book, Sustaining Lake Superior (Yale University Press, Fall 2017), examines climate change and toxics in the Lake Superior basin.
I am now working on two projects. One explores climate change and animal migrations, focused on the upper Great Lakes. How has climate change affected the movements of three iconic 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? I recently gave a series of lectures on these topics for the 2019 Mandel Lectures in the Humanities at Brandeis University, which will be revised into a book to be published by University Press of New England. This project is funded by a National Science Foundation standard research grant.
My second project focuses on reindeer and caribou 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 may include 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:
Since July 2013, I have been a professor at Michigan Technological University, part of the Great Lakes Research Center and the Department of Social Sciences. During 2012-2013, I was the King Carl XVI Gustaf Professor of Environmental Science at Umeå University in Sweden. Before that, I was a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 17 years, with appointments in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology.