Science, Technology, Environment, and Health

About the Program


Professor James Delbourgo, Rutgers-New Brunswick,

Professor Neil Maher, NJIT/Rutgers-Newark,

The graduate program in Science, Technology, Environment, and Health (STEH), one of several transnational areas of concentration in the History Ph.D. program, brings together faculty from each of the Rutgers campuses (New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden), NJIT and related centers, including the Thomas Edison Papers.

The STEH program draws Ph.D. students from all areas of historical study. It encourages students to develop a thematic expertise in environmental transformations, science and technology in society, and the histories of health and disease by investigating their social meanings, political and social histories, and their national and transnational contexts. Rather than a specialized or self-contained history of science or history of medicine program, STEH encourages graduate students to think across traditional subject boundaries and connect their interests in STEH to larger historical questions as part of the broader curriculum offered by the History Department. Recent STEH graduate students currently hold tenure-track positions at Virginia Tech, the University of Utah, and Queens College of the City of New York, and have been awarded postdoctoral fellowships at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs and the Center for Health and Wellbeing, and Birkbeck, University of London.

Students pursuing a major or minor field in STEH will have the opportunity to take colloquia that integrate the subfields of the history of science, history of technology, environmental history, and history of medicine. We aim to offer at least one course in each subfield in any two-year cycle. Independent studies with individual professors can also be taken for credit as can courses at neighboring schools, including Princeton, NYU, Columbia and Penn, as well as Rutgers Newark and Camden. Nationally, regionally and globally framed approaches are all welcome. Recent colloquia have included significant interplay with the department’s program in global history and include early modern science in Atlantic and global perspective; the history of energy; and collecting, race and museums. Students will be able to count other non-STEH courses (e.g., those listed in global history) toward the major or minor with faculty approval, provided that the content is relevant to STEH.

Recent and upcoming events showcasing the innovative work of STEH faculty and graduate students at Rutgers include the following:

  • A three-year seminar at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis on Networks of Exchange: Mobilities of Knowledge in a Globalized World, co-directed by James Delbourgo and Toby Jones from 2012-2015.
  • The “Natura” Graduate Student Working Group (English and History):
  • The 13th annual Workshop for Environment, Agriculture, Technology, and Science (WHEATS), organized by Jamie Pietruska and 10 graduate students, will be hosted by Rutgers for the first time in Fall 2016. 

Recent Graduate Courses with Syllabi

pdf Collecting the World: Assembling Objects From Antiquity to the Present (Delbourgo, 2013) (87 KB)

pdf Colloquium in the History of Medicine (Schoen, 2015) (383 KB)

pdf Colloquium in the History of Technology (Pietruska, 2014) (65 KB)

pdf Early Modern Atlantic and Global Exchanges in History of Science (Delbourgo, 2015) (82 KB)

pdf Global Environmental History (Maher, 2012) (225 KB)

pdf Global Toxic History (Jones, 2014) (131 KB)

pdf Topics in Environmental History: The American City (Maher, 2014) (37 KB)

pdf Topics in the History of Health (Pemberton, 2015) (165 KB)

Science, Museums and Race (Delbourgo, 2016)

  pdf The Knowing World: A New Global History of Science (Delbourgo, 2019) (1.44 MB)

STEH Coursework Requirements

All students are expected to complete the coursework credit requirements as specified. Note that there is currently no writing seminar requirement specific to STEH but students are encouraged to taking writing seminars offered by other members of faculty in history.

Major field in STEH

Students majoring in STEH are required to take a minimum of four courses as described above (this may include independent studies, outside courses, etc.) Colloquia in history of science, history of technology (510:535), environmental history (510:534), history of health and medicine (510:536) will address core methodological concerns in the field concerned in addition to focusing on specific periods and geographies.

Minor field in STEH

Students minoring in STEH are required to take a minimum of three courses as described above (this may include independent studies, outside courses, etc.) Colloquia in history of science, history of technology (510:535), environmental history (510:534), history of health and medicine (510:536) will address core methodological concerns in the field concerned in addition to focusing on specific periods and geographies.

STEH Qualifying Exams

The purpose of studying for a comprehensive field in STEH is to deepen a student's knowledge and understanding of a given sub-field (or two) in the histories of science, technology, environment or health by meeting with examiners for one-on-one discussions; and as preparation and to acquire credentials for teaching in these areas when going on the job market.

There is no pre-assigned examiner for comprehensive exams in STEH in any given semester. Whether majoring or minoring, each student selects the faculty member they wish to be examined by and works with those faculty to agree on specific field lists and formats.

Major: Students will select examiners in two of the following fields: science or technology or environment or health.

Note: it is expected that a student will take the appropriate class at the New Brunswick history department for a field in which they wish to be examined. For example, a student wishing to take an exam field in history of medicine would be expected to take a graduate course with Professor Schoen as preparation; for a field in history of technology, with Professor Pietruska; for environmental history, Professor Jones; and for science, Professor Delbourgo; and so on.

Note, however, that students may also elect to prepare for comprehensive exams that do not fall into one of the classic 4 STEH categories but straddle more than one: for example, Enviro-Tech; Science and Museums; and so on. Again, by consultation with faculty.

Minor: Students will select one examiner from the fields of science or technology or environment or health or relevant combination thereof.

Exam Format: To be agreed in consultation with the specific examining faculty member(s). This can take the form of a classic field list for historiographical and methodological discussion, culminating in a 15 page paper to be written during the course of one week; or the preparation of an annotated syllabus for a class the student might teach in future; or some other format to be agreed upon with the professor in question. 


Faculty Participating in the STEH Program


Tuna Artun
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Princeton
Late Medieval and Early Modern Middle East and Balkans; Alchemy in the Ottoman world; Byzantine History 

Barbara Cooper
Professor of History
Ph.D., Boston University
History of Motherhood, Fertility, Reproduction, West Africa

James Delbourgo
Associate Professor: History of Science and Atlantic World
Ph.D., Columbia
Atlantic world; early modern science; global exchanges; history of collecting and museums; seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

Leah DeVun
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Columbia
Medieval and Renaissance; science, gender and sexuality

Paul Israel
Director and General Editor, The Thomas Edison Papers
Ph.D., Rutgers
Innovation and Intellectual Property; American Social History

Toby Jones
Associate Professor of History and Director, Global and Comparative History Master's Degree Program 
Ph.D., Stanford
Middle East, Global Technoscience, Environment

Xun Liu
Associate Professor of History
Ph.D., University of Southern California
Religion, Medicine, and Material Culture in China

Jamie Pietruska
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., MIT
Knowledge infrastructures, Envirotech, American cultural history

Johanna Schoen
Associate Professor of History
Ph.D., University of North Carolina
History of women and medicine, history of reproduction rights, history of sexuality


Neil Maher
NJIT Professor and Graduate History Coordinator of the Concentration in History of Technology, Environment and Medicine
Ph.D., NYU
Environmental History; Social and Political History

Stephen Pemberton
NJIT Associate Professor and Chair
Ph.D., UNC Chapel Hill
Medicine, Biomedical Science & Technology, Health and Disease

Richard Sher
NJIT Distinguished Professor
Ph.D., Chicago
Technology, Printing and Communication


Janet Golden
Professor of History
Ph.D., Boston University
Pediatrics; Women and Medicine in America

Margaret Marsh
Distinguished Professor of History and University Professor Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, New Brunswick
Ph.D., Rutgers
Reproductive Medicine and Technology; Women's History

Scholarly and Funding Resources

Bern Dibner Library of Science and Technology

Chemical Heritage Foundation

Columbia Center for Science and Society

Columbia University Health Sciences Library, Archives and Special Collections

Hagley Museum and Library




Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

New York Academy of Medicine

NYC History of Science Working Group

PACHS: Philadelphia Center for the History of Science

Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society

The Thomas Edison Papers

Wellcome Library

Links to Professional Organizations






Graduate Students in STEH and related fields

Christopher Blakley
Colonial, STEH, Early Modern European History

Christopher received his MA in History from North Carolina State University, 2013, and his BA from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, 2011. His fields of study are early America, history of science, and environmental history. His research examines overlapping networks of early modern science, particularly environmental knowledge, and slavery in the Atlantic World. This research looks at intellectual exchanges and intersections between European and African ideas about nature and plantation environments. In 2015 he presented research on slavery and iron ore mining in colonial Virginia at Temple University. This project investigates how Virginia planters in the 1720s articulated their role in the British empire as masters of both American environments and enslaved Africans.

AJ Blandford
American History,STEH

AJ received a BA in Architecture and Visual Arts from Barnard College. Her research is focused on the environmental and cultural histories of North American mining and the global metals trade in the 18th and early 19th century.

Rachel Bunker
American History, STEH

Rachel is a historian of political economy and the history of technology. Her dissertation examines the growth of the consumer information economy during the twentieth century in the United States and Latin America. Specifically, she traces the construction of networks and the circulation of consumer information exchange between corporations, in particular insurance companies and credit firms, and the state. Rachel is interested in how these material networks simultaneously shaped and were influenced by discourses on privacy, surveillance, equality, state authority, and corporate sovereignty in the latter decades of the twentieth century. During the 2015-2016 academic year, Rachel is serving as a graduate student fellow at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis. Before coming to Rutgers, she received her MA in History from the University of Georgia and her MAT in Social Studies from Lewis and Clark College.

Andrea Ditkoff
STEH, Women's and Gender History

Andrea graduated with a B.A. in history from Vassar College in 2018. She is interested in the histories of women, medicine, biology, and education in the nineteenth and early twentieth century United States. Her past research includes work on eugenics at women’s colleges as well as early female physicians’ rhetoric.

Sam Hege
STEH, Global and Comparative

Sam studies the history of environmental justice and political economy in the 20th century. With a particular interest in New York City and its position in a global economy of food, his dissertation project examines the intersecting histories of cattle feedlots, fast food restaurants, and U.S. imperial networks of knowledge production and development as a way to situate the racial and toxic legacies of industrial agriculture. He completed his B.A. at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2011, an MSc at Edinburgh University in 2013, and an MA in Global and Comparative History at Rutgers in 2016.

Taylor Moore
Middle Eastern History, Women's and Gender History

Taylor received her BA in Honors Political Science and Sociology from The American University in Cairo in 2013. She is primary interested in Modern Middle East History. Her work focuses on the intersections of race, political economy, ethno-botany/folk medicine, and the development of natural and social sciences in nineteenth-century Upper Egypt.

Marika Plater
American History, STEH

Marika received her B.A. from Bard College in 2008 and an M.A. from Brooklyn College in 2013. Marika is interested in U.S. environmental history, particularly in diverse and divergent ideas about nature in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century New York City.

Paul Sampson
Early American History, STEH

Historians have conceived of the British Atlantic as a collection of liminal spaces. As people migrate and interact with one another, their ideas about society, religion, and race are tested, reconfigured, and sometimes cast aside. My own research aims to explore how this process of creating and refining scientific knowledge interacted with religious beliefs about the nature of the universe. I am also curious about how these changing realities that originated in the realm of science affected social structure and political arrangements in the age of Atlantic revolutions. 

Hannah Sigurdson
Early Modern European History, STEH

Hannah is a first year PhD student who graduated with a B.A. in history from the University at Buffalo. She is primarily interested in early modern and Victorian British history, with a thematic focus on natural history, museums, display, collecting, and material culture. Her past research includes work on taxonomy, visual culture, and local natural histories. 

Ryan Driskell Tate
American History,Women's and Gender, labor, social

Ryans interests lie broadly in energy and the environment; social politics and social protest; labor and work; and women’s and gender history. His current project examines grassroots resistance movements to expanding energy infrastructures, and how, between the 1960s and 1980s, these social activists connected their movements to broader cultural criticisms about the role of technology in American life. He received his B.A. in Honors History from Hamline University.

Lisette Varon Carvajal
STEH, Global and Comparative

Lisette is currently a second year doctoral student in the History department. Prior to attending Rutgers, she earned her bachelor degree at Los Andes University in Bogotá, Colombia, with a major in Political Science, and two minors in History and Law. Lisette is interested in Latin American history of science from a feminist perspective in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Particularly, she wishes to understand the role of science in the transition between the colonial and the national period in Latin America. 

Meagan Wierda
Nineth-century American History, STEH

Broadly speaking, I'm interested in questions of race, medicine and embodiment during the nineteenth century. In particular, though, I want to investigate how the mutual use of science--by slavery’s defenders as well as its detractors--both indicates the discipline's growing authority to frame the debate on slavery as well as its flexibility to simultaneously confirm and deny the shared humanity of slaves and their owners. How could medicine, which makes corporeal, have bolstered the institution of slavery, which was fundamentally about negating or destroying the body?