My research concentrates on the history of environment and health, of cities and industries, of inequality (racial and economic as well as environmental) and democracy, with a focus on the United States and Mexico. I began my career studying the environmental and health histories of industrialization and of institutional bulwarks such as medicine and the corporation, which led to works such as Hazards of the Job (1997); (with Christine Rosen) “The Nature of the Firm” (1999); and (edited with Gregg Mitman and Michelle Murphy) Landscapes of Exposure (2003). I then studied the ties between sub/urbanization and those experiences, movements, expertise and politics characterized as “environmental,” resulting in Crabgrass Crucible (2012). At the Wilson Center in 2016–17, I began writing up my latest departure, Toxic Crossings, an in-depth comparative and transnational study of the history of industrial hazards in Mexico and the United States from the twentieth into the twenty-first century. A forthcoming book on Atlanta, tentatively titled Skewed City, Democratizing Seeds asks broad questions about how the history of movements for civil rights as well as environmentalism in this one southern city were bound up with larger trends in racial and economic inequality as well a waxing and waning of democracy. Among my numerous grants, fellowships, and awards are those from the National Science Foundation, the National Humanities Center, and the National Library of Medicine.
Like more and more of my fellow scholars, including those involved with our new Center, I have sought out ways of engaging public audiences, issues, and dilemmas beyond my scholarly writing. I have written op-eds for publications that include Dissent, The Conversation, CNN, Vox, and The New York Times. I led the founding of the History of Environment and Health Network (HEHN) and H-EnviroHealth, which I co-edit, one of whose goals is seek out broader audiences for historians of environmental health and justice. Most recently, I also helped found and am on the Steering Committee of the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, where I direct an interviewing project that led to an influential report on The EPA under Siege (June 2016), drawn on by reporters from the Washington Post, the New York Times, Mother Jones, Moyers and Company, and the Pacific Standard, among others. I also have been instrumental in outreach efforts for Michael Zweig’s former Center for the Study of Working Class Life (helping to involve community groups in Rev. William Barber’s visit to Long Island), and its revamping to become the Center for the Study of Inequalities, Social Justice, and Policy.