Research

Fluid Geographies: Settling New Mexico during the Reclamation Era
(Book under contract with Univbalmorhea-txersity of Chicago Press, slated for publication in 2017.) This book examines the early history of New Mexico’s Office of the State Engineer (created in 1905), focusing on the ways this new office created, managed and consolidated its legitimacy as a producer of environmental knowledge and as an authority over water resources. Primary sources for this project include administrative records, district court cases, newspaper reports, hydrographic surveys, and other archival materials.

Re-Imagining the Islands: Environmental Change in the Florida Keyskeysbridge
(Book chapter to be included in an edited volume provisionally titled American Environment Revisited, eds. Geoff Buckley and Yolanda Youngs, with Rowman & Littlefield). This piece is part of a larger historical-geographic investigation of the changing settlement patterns and political-ecological geographies of the Florida Keys in the 19th and early 20th centuries, focusing on the region’s transformation – from a liminal point of imperial connection within the Caribbean basin into a fixed part of the American mainland – through engineering projects with enduring environmental impacts.

Geographies of Mars: Seeing and Knowing the Red Planet
When astronomers debated the meaning of linear markings seen on the Martian surface geogmars-bookcoverin the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they relied on numerous analogies and explanations drawn from terrestrial geographical science.  How did geography’s imperial mandates influence the scientific and popular constructions of Mars as an irrigated, inhabited planet? How did the claims emanating from Mars science influence fundamental geographical debates about environmental change and the human-environment relationship? My book Geographies of Mars presents extensive archival and documentary research to explore these questions in detail.

Media Coverage of Boulder Dam Construction, 1930s
boulderdamThe tallest dam ever built at its completion, Boulder Dam (later renamed Hoover Dam) was a triumph of the reclamation era.  As this mammoth concrete structure took shape on the lower Colorado River in the 1930s, mainstream American media outlets became obsessed with the details of its construction and its projected impact on the landscapes of the desert Southwest.   What perceptions and attitudes toward resource management did this media coverage reflect? To what extent did popular narrations of this project intersect with government narratives about the promise of rational-scientific approaches for water management?  Using discourse analysis of media coverage as an indicator of the dam’s wider cultural meanings, I published a piece in Aether, the Journal of Media Geography, in a special issue on Landscape, History and the Media.