Monique Allewaert’s research integrates literary analysis with political and environmental theory to contribute to an American studies that attends to the flows and structures of colonialism that shape the Western hemisphere. This hemispheric orientation of the field develops through sub- and supra-national frames and problematics in an effort to uncover understandings of personhood, community, and place that were etiolated by earlier organizations of the field. Her book Ariel’s Ecology (University of Minnesota, 2013) argues that in the American plantation zone human bodies were experienced and mythologized not as integrated political subjects but as bodies in parts.
Allewaert is currently working on a book tentatively titled Cut Up: Colonial Insectophilia and Enlightenment from Below, which explores an occluded colonial way of thinking the small and the partial. Focusing on insects as paradigmatic micro-scale entities, this book aims to show how Enlightenment epistemological and ontological claims shifted in cultural peripheries, giving rise to a minoritarian Enlightenment tradition that can be recovered as a potential for contemporary environmentalism, politics, and aesthetics.
Anna Andrzejewski is a professor in the Department of Art History, where she teaches courses on the history of North American vernacular architecture and cultural landscapes. Anna is also an affiliate of the Department of Geography and the Program in Urban and Regional Planning, and she co-directs the buildings-landscapes-cultures PhD program (a collaboration with UW-Milwaukee).
Anna has published Building Power: Architecture and Surveillance in Victorian America (Tennessee, 2008) as well as many articles on postwar suburban architecture. She is currently finishing a book on the post World War II building industry; working with graduate students in art history and geography on a multi-year research project on the cultural landscape of the northern Great Plains; and beginning a project on the cultural landscape of retirement in south Florida.
Jennifer Angus is a professor in the design studies department in the School of Human Ecology where she teaches textile design, specifically, everything to do with the dyeing and printing of cloth, including natural dyes. She is an artist recently described by Art Daily as “one of the top contemporary installation artists in the country.”
Jennifer creates some of the most provocative work most people have ever seen in an art museum setting. She composes patterns using hundreds of insects, placing them in arrangements that suggest wallpaper and textiles. Angus was one of nine leading contemporary artists selected for the landmark exhibition “Wonder” at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery in 2015.
Jennifer has been the recipient of numerous awards including Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council and Wisconsin Arts Board grants. More recently she received the inaugural Forward Art Prize, an unrestricted award for outstanding women artists of Wisconsin. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison she has received annual grants from the Graduate School, as well as the Vilas Associate Award, the Emily Mead Baldwin-Bascom Professorship in the Creative Arts, the Romnes Fellowship, the UW Arts Institute Creative Arts Award, Rothermel Bascom Professorship, the Kellett Mid-Career Faculty Researcher Award, and, most recently, the Edna Wiechers Arts in Wisconsin Award.
Emily Arthur sees nature as an interdependent living force rather than as the backdrop for human events. Land is living matter that holds specific meaning to a place. This is the nature-based perspective through which she conducts her research.
Her fine art practice is informed by a concern for the environment, displacement, exile and the return home from dislocation and separation. She seeks the unbroken relationship between modern culture and ancient lands which uses tradition and story to make sense of the enduring quest to understand our changing experience of home.
Ian Baird is a professor in the Department of Geography and director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies. His interests are varied, and include the political ecology of hydropower dam development in the Mekong Region, economic land concessions in Laos and Cambodia, the concept of indigeneity in Asia, the history of political and military conflict in mainland Southeast Asia, and nature-society-politics in upland parts of mainland Southeast Asia, especially amongst the Brao and the Hmong.
Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies
Will Brockliss is the director of CHE. He is also an associate professor in the Department of Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, where he teaches courses on the Greeks, Romans, and the Natural Environment, and Ancient Monsters.
Will has published Homeric Imagery and the Natural Environment (Harvard/Center for Hellenic Studies 2019), as well as articles on landscapes of war, ecology in ancient texts, and monstrosity. He is currently writing a book on horror in ancient epic.
Joshua Calhoun is an associate professor in the Department of English whose most recent work explores the ecopoetic interplay between literary ideas and the physical forms they are made to take as sixteenth- and seventeenth-century texts.
In his first book, The Nature of the Page: Poetry, Papermaking, & Ecology in Renaissance England (forthcoming from the University of Pennsylvania Press), Calhoun argues that the flora, fauna, and mineralia from which a Renaissance text — or a clay tablet, or a birch bark map, or an iPhone — is made are legible, significant elements of its poetic form. His work draws on scholarly as well as journalistic training (as an intern at Outside Magazine), and his commitment to questions about conservation, land use, and wilderness are deeply informed by his experiences growing up in the Adirondacks.
Nadia Chana is an assistant professor of ethnomusicology at UW-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music. Her recent dissertation — On Listening on Indigenous Land: Method, Context, Crisis — relied on a variety of methods, including multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in northern Alberta and the California Bay Area, to consider how singing and listening become critical tools for building a felt relationship with a more-than-human world.
More generally, Nadia is interested in voice (audible and metaphoric), racialization, embodiment, practice-based ways of knowing, Indigenous-settler relations, Bay Area spirituality, nonhuman agency, and experimental and collaborative ethnography. While Nadia situates her work within music studies, thinkers in critical Indigenous studies and feminist science studies have often been her guiding stars.
Ingrid Diran is an assistant professor of English and environmental humanities at UW-Madison whose teaching and research examine the relations between formations of capital and their corresponding deformations of life. Her book project examines the way in which ideas of ecological and economic limits have become entangled, and how this entanglement intersects with racial capitalism and its traditions of resistance.
Eve Emshwiller is an associate professor in the botany department. Her research interests center on the ethnobotany, systematics, evolution, and conservation of crop plants and their wild relatives. She studies agrobiodiversity, especially the domestication of crops, their evolution under human influence, and their conservation biology.
Current projects include research on the phylogenetics and morphological evolution of the genus Oxalis, the origins of polyploidy and domestication of the Andean tuber crop “oca,” Oxalis tuberosa, and the distribution of clones of oca in traditional Andean agriculture. Members of her lab also research manoomin (wild-rice) harvest traditions, evolution of feral wild mustard in Mexico under different traditional management practices, factors that affect the loss or maintenance of oca clonal diversity, organic acids in oca, and the origins of domestication in Chenopodium. She teaches UW-Madison’s first ethnobotany course and is now also teaching “Plants and Humans.”
Sarah Ensor is an assistant professor of English at UW-Madison whose teaching and research focus on ecocriticism, queer studies, American literature, and various intersections thereof. She is currently finishing a book on queer environmental ethics in the absence of futurity, which reads queer sites of provisionality in order to trace how temporariness and (apparent) futurelessness can engender, rather than preclude, forms of commitment, community, intimacy, and care. Her second book, tentatively titled Queer Fallout: Nuclear Families and Other Toxic Kin, explores fallout as a material, relational, and methodological category that spans queer and environmental thought.
Gender and Women’s Studies
Ruth Goldstein is an assistant professor in the gender and women’s studies department at UW-Madison. Her teaching and research interests converge along the lines of environmental racism, conceptions of gendered care for “Mother” Earth and what it means to decolonize ecological knowledge. She is working on a book — Life in Traffic: Women, Plants and Gold Along the Interoceanic Road — with UC Press.
Claudio Gratton’s research is broadly focused on understanding the relationship between land use and the conservation of insects both beneficial to people (pollinators and predators), and those that are pests of crops. In particular, his lab has been studying how agriculture influences the services that nature provides to people via the conservation of biodiversity.
Recently they have been exploring ways to make science a more integral part of the decision-making processes that ultimately shape what people do in our landscapes to affect not only crops, but also the environment and, ultimately, society more broadly.
Dr. Rachel Gurney is an environmental sociologist with a background in journalism, environmental science, and sociology. Her current research focuses on climate adaptation, socio-political dimensions of climate change, and food insecurity. Rachel specializes in interdisciplinary research bridging social and natural sciences, teaching environmental sociology, and communicating research to the public. She has years of experience in the environmental field, including advocacy and outreach for national and international environmental organizations, teaching and research, and publishing and editing social science environmental research for a variety of audiences and publication platforms.
History, Nelson Institute
Elizabeth Hennessy is associate professor of world environmental history in the history department and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. She is also affiliated with the Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies program (LACIS). Trained as a geographer, she works at the intersection of political ecology, science and technologies studies, animal studies, and environmental history.
Her main research project focuses on the most iconic species of the Galápagos Islands, giant tortoises, to trace intertwined transnational histories of capitalist development, evolutionary science, and conservation in the archipelago. She teaches courses on both global and Latin American environmental history as well as the role of animals in world history.
Nelson Institute, Civil Society and Community Studies
As a critical cultural geographer, Leah Horowitz’s research focuses on conflicts over environmental governance, involving local communities, governments at various scales, corporations, non-governmental organizations, and grassroots groups. Ultimately, her work aims to help find ways for all these stakeholders to work together toward environmental conservation. She has addressed these research goals through studies of mining activities and biodiversity conservation, primarily in New Caledonia, Malaysia, and the U.S.
Specifically, her research contributes to our understanding of the importance of relationships and networks and the crucial role emotions play within these in enabling and shaping various modes of environmental governance as well as resistance to them.
Sara Hotchkiss studies ecology on time scales that range from decades to tens of thousands of years, comparing observations of modern ecosystems with paleoecological data. Her projects include studies of ecosystem disturbance, climate change, and human-landscape interactions in the Great Lakes region and the Hawaiian Islands.
Robert Justin Hougham
Division of Extension
Dr. Justin Hougham (he/him/his) is a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he supports the delivery of a wide range of science education topics to K-12 students, graduate students, and in-service teachers. Justin’s scholarship is in the areas of place-based pedagogies, STEM education, and education for sustainability. Justin has taught 17 different undergraduate and graduate courses as well as instructed over 1,000 days in the field. He continues to teach courses, clinics, and trainings that develop pedagogies in experiential education.
Randy Jackson’s research, teaching and engagement in grassland ecology explores how human management of agroecosystems influences their ability to build soils, retain nutrients, and enhance biodiversity, while providing for our wants and needs. He helps manage the 30-year-old Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial (WICST), which compares the environmental and economic performance of crops typical of upper Midwest agriculture.
He also directs Grassland 2.0, a five-year project working toward transforming grain-based agriculture to grassland-based agriculture in the upper Midwest to help stabilize climate, reduce flooding, clean water, and support biodiversity, while rebuilding thriving, vital rural communities.
Tomiko Jones is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Art Department. Jones’ photography and multidisciplinary installations explore social, cultural and geopolitical transitions, considering the twin crises of too much and too little in the age of climate change. Her current research, These Grand Places, is a socially engaged investigation of public land supported by a Grand Challenge Seed Grant through the School of Education. Her recent project Hatsubon is a memorial exhibition in photography, video and sculpture.
Jones was a resident artist at Museé Niépce, and a fellow at The Camargo Foundation, France. Jones received her MFA and certificate in museum studies from the University of Arizona, Tucson. She has held several full-time teaching appointments in New Mexico, California and Colorado, including visiting artist/professor positions.
Medical History and Bioethics
Rick Keller’s research lies at the intersection of the history and ethnography of European and global health. He is the author of Fatal Isolation: The Devastating Paris Heat Wave of 2003 (Chicago, 2015) and Colonial Madness: Psychiatry in French North Africa (Chicago, 2007), and is co-editor of Unconscious Dominions: Psychoanalysis, Colonial Trauma, and Global Sovereignties (Duke, 2011), Enregistrer les morts, identifier les surmortalités: Une comparaison Angleterre, Etats-Unis et France (Presses de l’EHESP, 2010), and a special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly, “Life after Biopolitics” (2016).
He is currently at work on a global history of the environment, as well as a project on the links between disease ecology and changes in global consumer demand. Keller teaches courses on the historical and contemporary dimensions of European and international health.
School for Workers
Alexia Kulwiec’s research and teaching focuses on federal and state labor and employment laws, and the processes whereby labor may address disparities and justice in the workplace. Her research includes laws applicable to agriculture and food systems and the potential development of improved agricultural business models; study of working conditions along the U.S. food chain; and the potential benefit of domestic fair trade principles in mid-sized agriculture. She examines the work environment of food and agricultural workers, as well as the impact of U.S. agricultural policy on the viability on small, sustainable farm operations.
Maria Lepowsky specializes in cultural anthropology, anthropology of gender, historical anthropology, history of anthropology, environmental anthropology, exchange and ritual, medical/nutritional anthropology, psychological anthropology, Pacific Islands, California and the American West.
Reba Luiken (she/her/hers) is the director of Allen Centennial Gardens in the horticulture department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she connects learners of all ages to the natural world through different ways of knowing. She completed a dual degree in plant biology and religious studies and a PhD in the history of science, technology, and medicine at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on the history of the plant sciences and public communication of science. She is currently working on a project about botany nuns who shared their understanding of plants, science, and God with generations of young women.
English and Nelson Institute
Noreen McAuliffe is a lecturer in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a program specialist at the Nelson Institute. She most recently was an assistant teaching professor at Rutgers University, where she taught courses in environmental writing and storytelling for scientists. Her academic interests include the environmental humanities, nonfiction science narratives, and multimedia science storytelling.
Her work has appeared in The Common, The Baltimore Review, and Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading. She’s been awarded the Alces Foundation Environmental Writing Fellowship, a NY State Writers Institute scholarship, a New Jersey State Council of the Arts Fellowship, and a Waitt Grant from the National Geographic Society.
Sarli E. Mercado
Spanish and Portuguese
Sarli E. Mercado, PhD, is the 4W director of Latin American Urban Cultural Connections (On Women Landscapes and the Arts). She has published her work on contemporary Spanish American poetry in the United States, Latin America, and Europe. Her current research centers on contemporary Southern Cone women writers and Latin American poetic and visual art expressions that link urban and non-urban environments to ecological thinking.
In the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, she teaches Spanish American literature, writing, cultural journalism, translation, and urban cultural studies. Dr. Mercado co-leads the 4W-International Women Collective translation Project (4W-WIT) and collaborates with the Museum of Environmental Sciences at the University of Guadalajara.
James Edward Mills
James Edward Mills is an independent scholar with a specialty in outdoor recreation and environmental conservation as they intersect with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
History, Medical History and Bioethics
Gregg Mitman is the Vilas Research and William Coleman Professor of History, Medical History, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His research and teaching interests span the history of science, medicine, and the environment in the United States and the world and include a commitment to environmental and social justice.
His most recent work has focused on a multimedia project — films, a book, and public history website — exploring the history and legacy of the Firestone Plantations Company in Liberia. He coproduced and codirected with Sarita Siegel two films, “In the Shadow of Ebola,” an intimate portrait of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, and “The Land Beneath Our Feet,” a documentary on history, memory, and land rights in Liberia.
His newest book, “Empire of Rubber: Firestone’s Scramble for Land and Power in Liberia,” was published by The New Press in November 2021.
Mitman’s current research, for which he has received a €2.5 million European Research Council Advanced Grant, aims to discern the ecological, economic, political, and social forces at play that have simultaneously turned certain regions of West Africa into profitable sites of natural resource extraction, productive enclaves of biomedical research, and hot zones of pandemic threats.
Planning and Landscape Architecture
Dr. Maria Moreno (she/her/hers) teaches restoration education courses to undergraduates and first-year interest group (FIG) courses on Indigenous arts and citizenship, restoration, and resilience in Puerto Rico.
Civil and Environmental Engineering
John Nelson is an adjunct professor of civil and environmental engineering at UW–Madison and managing director for Global Infrastructure Asset Management LLC, an asset management firm specializing in sustainable infrastructure investments.
Previously, Nelson was CEO of Affiliated Engineers, and under his leadership, the engineering firm became nationally recognized for designing dynamic building systems and infrastructure for large and complicated projects.
He serves on a number of boards, including the Nelson Institute (as a member emeritus), CASB in the School of Business, and the UW Foundation. His training includes an MS in mechanical engineering from UW–Madison.
Larry Nesper is a professor of anthropology and American Indian studies, and has been at UW-Madison since 2002. He is the author of The Walleye War: The Struggle for Ojibwe Spearfishing and Treaty Rights (University of Nebraska Press, 2002). He has worked as a consultant for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Bad River and Lac du Flambeau Tribe.
Current research explores the development of tribal courts in Wisconsin and state court-tribal court relations. He teaches courses in American Indian ethnography and ethnohistory, Indians of the Western Great Lakes, anthropology of law, and American Indian social and political movements.
Mario Ortiz-Robles is the Nancy C. Hoefs and Mellon-Morgridge Professor of English and Animal Studies. His teaching and research interests are situated at the intersection of 19th-century literature, literary theory, and animal studies.
He is currently at work on a book-length project that explores the long arc of literary naturalism in Britain and France to determine the extent to which the appropriation of nature as a literary trope conditions, or “naturalizes,” our fraught relation to animals.
Forest and Wildlife Ecology
Adena Rissman is a professor in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, and an affiliate of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the agroecology program, the Land Tenure Center, the La Follette Institute for Public Affairs, and the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies. Her research investigates the relationships between society and environment, focusing on conservation, ecosystem management, and resource use.
She examines forests, wildlife, rangelands, agriculture, and water resources both locally and nationally, through participatory research approaches. Her research centers around three themes:
- Natural resource policy design, implementation, and evaluation
- Ecological outcomes of resource policy and conservation strategies
- Social and legal adaptation to environmental change
Sissel Schroeder is a professor of archaeology and the chair of the Department of Anthropology and an affiliate of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the American Indian Studies Program, and the Material Culture Studies Program.
Her current research is focused on the role of ethnic diversity (as identified from distinctive archaeological materials, particularly architecture and ceramics) in the formation and dissolution of communities and polities in the ancient Mississippian (c. A.D. 1000-1500) societies of the midwestern and southeastern United States.
Her multi-scalar approach to these issues draws on aspects of agency theory and environmentalism and highlights how the places where ancient people chose to settle reflect the changing constraints and opportunities presented by the spatial distribution of resources, potential for establishing gardens and agricultural fields, availability of habitable land, the peaceful or bellicose nature of relationships with other peoples living nearby, and perceptions and traditions about the landscape that may include the construction of earthen mounds.
Jen Rose Smith
Geography and American Indian Studies
Jen Rose Smith (dAXunhyuu [Eyak, Alaska Native]) is an assistant professor in the geography department and American Indian Studies Program. She studies coloniality, race, and indigeneity as read through aesthetic and literary contributions, archival evidences, and experiential embodied knowledges with a particular interest in ice-geographies.
Institute for Research on Poverty
James Spartz (he/him/his) is a writer and editor with the Institute for Research on Poverty. He works at the intersections of economic inequality, poverty, communication, and community well-being as well as having a strong interest in decolonial place-based humanities scholarship and praxis.
James spent several years as a professor of environmental communication at a rural, private, environmental college in Maine where he developed and taught courses including Environmental Communication, Forests and Society, Environmental Writing, and Ecomusicology and Place.
He received an MA from the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication and PhD through the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication.
Amy Stambach is the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the Department of Anthropology and a faculty affiliate of the African Studies Program. Her current book project examines the history of land tenure and cultural politics on Mount Kilimanjaro. She has worked for many years in East Africa and has served as external commentator to UNESCO and the United Nations Institute of Statistics.
Community and Environmental Sociology
Randy Stoecker is a professor in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with an affiliate appointment in the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Center for Community and Economic Development. He has a PhD in sociology from the University of Minnesota, and an MS in counseling from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
He conducts trainings and speaks frequently on community organizing and development, participatory action research/evaluation, higher education community engagement strategies, and community information technology. He has facilitated numerous participatory action research projects, community technology projects, and empowerment evaluation processes with community development corporations, community-based leadership education programs, community organizing groups, and other non-profits across a wide range of issues and places, including hip-hop.
Randy has written extensively on community organizing and development and higher education engagement with community. In his spare time he is practicing to become an electric guitar luthier and writing a rock opera. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with his life partner of 40 years and a standard poodle of eight years who refuses to act his age.