My research is at the intersection of environmental history and history of science and technology in the American West. His current projects focus on the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains between 1860 and 1920, including (1) the history of scientific practices in the field and environmental sciences, and (2) the relationship between the field sciences, economic development, and environmental transformation. He is also interested in agriculture and the history of the food system, the involvement of lay people in the field sciences, and the history of science in the national parks.
Field Life: Science in the American West during the Railroad Era (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016)
(editor) Knowing Global Environments: New Historical Perspectives on the Field Sciences (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2011).
(with Robert E. Kohler) “The Field,” in A Companion to the History of Science, ed. Bernard Lightman (Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2016), 282-95.
“Field and Laboratory,” in A Companion to the History of American Science, eds. Georgina M. Montgomery and Mark A. Largent (Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2016), 374-84.
“Regionalizing Knowledge: The Ecological Approach of the USDA Office of Dryland Agriculture on the Great Plains,” in New Perspectives on the History of Life Sciences and Agriculture, eds. Denise Phillips and Sharon Kingsland (Cham: Springer, 2015), 277-96.
“Labs in the Field? Rocky Mountain Biological Stations in the Early Twentieth Century,” Journal of the History of Biology 45 (2012): 587-611.
“Field Life in the American West: Surveys, Networks, Stations, and Quarries,” in Scientists and Scholars in the Field: Studies in the History of Fieldwork and Expeditions, eds. Kristian Nielsen, Michael Harbsmeier, and Christopher J. Ries (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2012), 225-58.
“Lay Observers, Telegraph Lines, and Kansas Weather: The Field Network as a Mode of Knowledge Production,” Science in Context 24 (2011): 259-80.
“Rocky Mountain High Science: Teaching, Research, and Nature at Field Stations,” in Knowing Global Environments: New Historical Perspectives on the Field Sciences, ed. Jeremy Vetter (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2011), 108-34.
“Introduction: Lay Participation in the History of Scientific Observation,” Science in Context 24 (2011): 127-41.
“Capitalizing on Grass: The Science of Agrostology and the Sustainability of Ranching in the American West,” Science as Culture 19 (2010): 483-507.
“Cowboys, Scientists, and Fossils: The Field Site and Local Collaboration in the American West,” Isis 99 (2008): 273-303.
“Wallace’s Other Line: Human Biogeography and Field Practice in the Eastern Colonial Tropics,” Journal of the History of Biology 39 (2006): 89-123.
“Science along the Railroad: Expanding Field Work in the U.S. Central West,” Annals of Science 61 (2004): 187-211.