Current Environmental History Students

Georgetown’s Environmental History Group in 2014.

In the 2016-17 academic year, the environmental history group at Georgetown includes the following Ph.D. students:

Clark Alejandrino

Clark works on the environmental history of late imperial and modern China, especially climate and animal history. He came to Georgetown in 2012.  He is currently writing a dissertation about typhoons on the south China coast from the fifth to the twentieth century. He is also broadly interested in East Asian and World history while seeking to bring a diversity of perspectives from the natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences into his work. His research has been supported by funding from the Luce Foundation, ACLS, the Center for Chinese Studies at the National Central Library of Taiwan and the SSRC. He is currently in China doing research on an SSRC Mellon IDRF grant. Before coming to Georgetown, Clark finished his BA in history at Ateneo de Manila University and an MA in Chinese Studies at the University of Sydney.

Conference Participation

  • 19th Conference of International Association of Historians of Asia, Manila, Philippines: 2006
  • 23rd Graduate Student Conference on East Asia, Columbia University: 2014
  • 3rd Conference of East Asian Environmental History, Takamatsu, Japan: 2015

Meredith Denning

Meredith is curious about transboundary water management and interdisciplinary research. She studies how the United States and Canada cooperated to transform the Great Lakes during the twentieth century. In particular, she wants to know how residents, scientists and local governments got involved in managing the Lakes they lived by, and how international relations altered the Great Lakes watershed. If she can discover how the many, many interested groups learned to take better care of the water they share, perhaps she can help continue the process.  Her work has been supported by a Hackman Residency at the New York State Archives and the Georgetown Environment Initiative.  She entered the Ph.D. program in 2010.

Conference Participation

  • American Society of Environmental History Annual Meeting:  2013, 2015
  • European Society for Environmental History Annual Meeting:  2013

Faisal Husain

Faisal joined the Ph.D. program in 2012.  He is writing his dissertation on the establishment of a unified Ottoman imperial regime over the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the early sixteenth century and the consequences of this political transition on the state, riparian communities, and the environment in the early modern period. Faisal has an MA in history from Yale University and currently serves on the editorial board of Global Environment.


  • “Changes in the Euphrates River: Ecology and Politics in a Rural Ottoman Periphery, 1687-1702,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 47, no. 1 (Summer 2016): 1-25.
  • Faisal Husain, “In the Bellies of the Marshes: Water and Power in the Countryside of Ottoman Baghdad,” Environmental History 19 (2014): 638-664. 

Conference Participation

  • Northeast Regional Environmental History Conference, Yale University: 2014
  • American Society of Environmental History Annual Conference: 2014, 2015
  • Middle East Studies Association Annual Conference:  2013, 2015

Matthew Johnson

Matthew joined the Ph.D. program in 2015. He studies twentieth century Latin American environmental history with emphases on water and energy. His dissertation will look at the environmental and social consequences that surround dams built for hydroelectric power in Brazil during the second half of the twentieth century. These dams and their associated consequences will be considered in the context of global energy and the search for alternatives to fossil fuel-based energy regimes.

Conference Participation

  • “‘Thirsty Sugar Lands’: Dam Building and Irrigation in Southeastern Puerto Rico, 1898-1935.” Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. August, 2016.

Robynne Mellor

Robynne came to Georgetown in 2011.  Her research focuses on the intersection of the environment and the Cold War. Her dissertation, which she is currently writing, will examine the history of uranium mining and milling in North America (Canada and the U.S.) and the Soviet Union from 1945 to 1985, using and building upon approaches from environmental history, diplomatic history, and international comparative history.  Her dissertation research is supported by awards from the SSRC, SSHRC, and ASEH.

Conference Participation and Talks

  • Nuclear Proliferation International History Project Nuclear Bootcamp, University of Roma Tre and the Machiavelli Center for Cold War Studies, Rome, Italy: 2013
  • “Early Uranium Procurement Activities in the United States and Soviet Union,” invited speaker, American Institute of Physics, College Park, Maryland: 2014
  • “The Cold War’s Underground Front: Environmental and Health Effects of Uranium Mining in the United States and the Soviet Union, 1955-1975,” Yale University’s “Cold War Narratives Reimagined Conference”: 2016.
  • “Cold War Uranium Ecologies in the United States, Canada, and the Soviet Union,” Leverhulme International Network, Kyiv, Ukraine: 2016.
  • “Natural or Nuclear: Cold War Uranium Security in the United States and the Soviet Union,” Georgetown Nuclear Security Summit: 2016.


  • “A Comparative Case Study of Uranium Mine and Mill Tailings Regulation in Canada and the United States.” Book chapter in Mining North America, eds. George Vrtis and J.R. McNeill. University of California Press (forthcoming)

José Pons Ballesteros

José came to Georgetown in 2016. His research focuses on the coevolution of nature and society in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. Before joining the program, José completed a master’s degree in environmental science at Yale.


  • Powell, JT; Pons, JC; Chertow, MR.  Waste Informatics: Establishing Characteristics of Contemporary U.S. Landfill Quantities and Practices.  Accepted for publication in Environmental Science & Technology, September 2016.

Jackson Perry

Jackson joined the PhD program in 2014. His research examines the spread of the eucalyptus tree genus to the Mediterranean region in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He focuses on the politics and science of forestry in modern Europe and the Middle East, the emergence of transregional scientific networks and institutions, and the place of large-scale forest transformations in the onset of the Anthropocene. Before coming to Georgetown, Jackson completed a master’s degree in Near Eastern Studies at New York University. When he isn’t reading about forests, Jackson is probably jogging in Rock Creek Park.

Conference Participation

  • Voyages & Visions: A Symposium in Honour of John Gascoigne and Ian Tyrrell, University of New South Wales: 2016.
  • Middle East Studies Association Annual Conference, Denver: 2015
  • Developing Agriculture, Cultivating Sovereignty? A cross-study of agricultural development and political mobilizations in the Arab Middle East (1940-2014). Fribourg University: 2014

Hillar Schwertner

Hill entered the PhD program in 2013.  His research examines the history of water in the arid U.S.-Mexico borderlands. He is especially interested in the availability, distribution, and consumption of water resources in the transborder metropolis of Tijuana-San Diego – the largest and most economically significant of more than a dozen transborder cities that transcend the political boundary.  Hill’s work takes a transnational approach in exploring the history of this precious commodity in order to provide a deeper understanding of the complexities, challenges, and potential solutions to the greatest problems afflicting the region.  His research has been supported by the Georgetown Environment Initiative’s Graduate Grant-in-Aid.

Conference Participation

  • Oaxaca Summer Institute XV, Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico: 2013