I am a doctoral candidate in Princeton University's Program in the History of Science, broadly working on the intersections of art, exploration, and natural history in the eighteenth and nineteenth century tropics. My dissertation, "Strange Beauty: Botanical Collection, Preservation, and Display in the Nineteenth Century Tropics," follows four species of plants--moss, orchids, carnivorous pitcher plants, and corpse flowers--that confounded ideas of plant reproduction, troubled notions of floral beauty, and upset configurations of gender, sexuality, and race in constructions of "tropical nature." I'm especially interested in how plants were, or weren't, transported across oceans and transformed into material objects in Romantic and Victorian museums, gardens, and herbaria, and how this movement (or lack thereof) figured into constructions of objecthood in the tropical Anthropocene.
My recent work can be found in The Public Domain Review, The Appendix, and in various online formats. During Fall 2016 I precepted in Princeton for Michael Gordin's "Science in the Modern World" course, and I served as Associate Director of the Behrman Society (sponsored by the Humanities Council) for the year. I've presented my work at conferences like the History of Science Society Annual Meetings (Atlanta; Toronto), as well as at international conferences like "Working On Things: On the Social, Political, and Economic History of Collected Objects" (Berlin) and "Remaking the Museum: Curation, Care, and Conservation in Times of Ecological Upheaval (Aarhus). I have also given lectures at public institutions like the Wagner Free Institute of Science (Philadelphia) and for undergraduate courses.
In Spring 2015 I completed generals fields in:
History of the Life Sciences with Erika Milam
Museums & Collecting with D. Graham Burnett
Book History with Anthony Grafton
Travel, Trade & Empire Across the Indian Ocean with Michael Laffan
I have held fellowships at The New York Botanical Garden Humanities Institute, the Princeton University Art Museum (where I worked in the Modern + Contemporary Art Curatorial Dept.), and the Linda Hall Library. Before coming to Princeton, I received a B.A. in the History of Science, Medicine & Technology, as well as a minor in African Studies, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In Madison, I developed digital image databases for the Lawrence Jacobsen Primate Library / Digital Collections Center and worked for the UW Archives Oral History Program.
I'm currently living, writing, and researching in Philadelphia, and will be precepting for Rachael DeLue's "Art as Science / Science as Art" undergraduate course in the spring. I am also a long-term visiting researcher on the Ad Fontes Nature | Natural Things Digital Humanities Project at Stanford University, where we trace the movement of natural objects in the early modern world. For a copy of my CV, or for questions about future talks, publications, and events, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), follow my personal website, or follow me on Twitter.
"Richard Spruce and the Trials of Victorian Bryology" was recommended in the Paris Review's "On the Shelf," was named one of the best science articles of 2015, and was published in the new, beautifully designed Public Domain Review: Selected Essays, Vol. III. Check out the volume here.