I am an environmental historian of Russia and the Soviet Union with an interest in many aspects of human interactions with the natural world. My main scholarly ambition has been to demonstrate the pertinence of environmental perspectives to major questions in Russian history. This goal has led me to write about animals and avalanches, energy and economy, revolution and repression, waste and water, science and socialism, and other themes. In this scholarship, I have highlighted the role of nature as an actor in history and the place of the Russian environmental experience in comparative and global history. A focus on specific locations—the Russian Arctic and the Siberian taiga, for instance—also characterizes my approach to environmental history. Most recently, my research has turned toward questions of human engagements with outer space and the variable climate system on this planet. My first book examined the environmental history of economic transformation in the Russian north during the twentieth century. My current book project explores the history of the 1908 Tunguska explosion and the efforts to understand it. See my personal website for more information.
- The Nature of Soviet Power: An Arctic Environmental History. Cambridge University Press, 2016.
- "Environmental Subjectivities from the Soviet North," Slavic Review 78, no. 1 (Spring 2019): 1-22.
- "How a Rock Remade the Soviet North: Nepheline in the Khibiny Mountains," in Nicholas Breyfogle, ed., Eurasian Environments: Nature and Ecology in Imperial Russian and Soviet History (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018). 147-164.
- "Climate History of Russia and the Soviet Union," WIREs Climate Change (July 2018), doi: 10.1002/wcc.534.
- "What Does it Mean to Liberate a Land? Toward an Environmental History of the Russian Revolution," in Christopher Read, and Peter Waldron, Adele Lindenmeyr, eds., Russia's Home Front in War and Revolution, 1914-22, Book 3: National Disintegration (Bloomington: Slavica Publishers, 2018), 157-177.
- "A Tale of Two Reindeer: Pastoralism and Preservation in the Soviet Arctic," REGION: Regional Studies of Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia 6, no. 2 (2017): 251–271.
- "A Eurasian Mineralogy: Aleksandr Fersman’s Conception of the Natural World," Isis: A Journal of the History of Science Society 107, no. 3 (September 2016): 518-539.
- "Conservation and Industry in the Soviet North: A Reflection on the Trade-Offs between National and Transnational Environmental Histories" in Ekologicheskaia istoriia v Rossii: etapy stanovleniia i perspektivnye napravleniia issledovanii (Elabuga: Elabuga Institute of the Kazan Federal University, 2014), 32-48.
- "Tumbling Snow: Vulnerability to Avalanches in the Soviet North," Environmental History (October 2013): 683-709.
- "Industrial Life in a Limiting Landscape: An Environmental Interpretation of Stalinist Social Conditions in the Far North," International Review of Social History 55, S18 (December 2010): 153-174.
- "Making Reindeer Soviet: The Appropriation of an Animal on the Kola Peninsula," in Jane Costlow and Amy Nelson, eds., Other Animals: Beyond the Human in Russian Culture and History (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010), 117-137.
- "Russian Environmental History: Directions and Potentials," Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 8, no. 3 (Summer 2007): 635-650.
I teach a full array of courses on Russian history as well as classes on comparative environmental history, including climate history. I also offer surveys on world history and European history and methodological/thematic courses for history majors, advanced undergraduates, and graduate students.
- HIST 171: World History since 1500
- HIST 336: Russia to 1861
- HIST 337: Russia since 1861
- HIST 389/ENVS 450: Global Climate History
- HIST 395: Historical Methods
- HIST 434/534: Russian Revolution
- HIST 435/535: Stalinism
- HIST 495: Senior Thesis
- HIST 600: Graduate Reading Seminar on Climate History
- HIST 600: Graduate Reading Seminar on Natural Disasters
- HIST 695: Seminar in College Teaching of History
Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability, and Energy
Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies
Russia/Soviet Union, Modern Europe, Environmental, Arctic, Climate
Ph.D., University of Illinois, 2011
By appointment only.