Lecture Series

CHASES brings in nationally‑renowned scholars for public talks about their latest research. In addition to their lectures, speakers meet with students and community groups. These events are designed to bring together Mississippi State students, faculty, and often, local farmers, researchers, and extension workers in conversations about the relationship between humans and science, the environment, and agriculture. This interaction ideally turns one‑time encounters between students and scholars into ongoing relationships and conversations.


Douglas McCleery, "Fire, Flood, and Pestilence: The Real Story Behind the Horrific Wildfires in the West"


Kathleen Hilliard,"Getting by in War and Freedom: Work and Politics in the Age of Emancipation"

Joseph Anderson, "Technology, Modernity, and Agrarian Masculinity in Postwar America"

Joe Anderson is 2018-2019 President of the Agricultural History Society. He is a member of the Department of Humanities at Mount Royal University in Alberta, Canada, and author of Industrializing the Corn Belt: Agriculture, Technology, and Environment, 1945-1972. He has a forthcoming book titled Capitalist Pigs: Pigs, Pork, and Power in American History.

Tiago Saraiva,"Cannibalism and Sadness: Cloning Citrus in Sao Paulo in the Plantationocene Era"

Tiago Saraiva is in the Department of History at Drexel University. He is the author of Fascist Pigs: Technoscientific Organisms and the History of Fascism (MIT Press, 2016), which won the History of Science Society's Pfizer Award.


John McNeill,"Revolutionary Mosquitoes: An Ecological-Immunological-Military History of Independence Wars in the Caribbean" 

John R. McNeill is University Professor at Georgetown University. One of the world's leading environmental and global historians, he is the author of five books, including the prize-winning Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth Century World (2000) and Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620-1914 (2010). A former president of the American Society for Environmental History, he is currently president-elect of the American Historical Association. Among other distinctions, he has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and since 2012 has served on the Anthropocene Working Group of the International Union of the Geological Sciences.

Sterling Evans,"The Age of Agricultural Ignorance: Trends and Concerns for Agriculture Knee-Deep into the 21st Century"

Sterling Evans is the Louise Welch Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author of The Green Republic: A Conservation History of Costa Rica (1999) and Bound in Twine: The History and Ecology of the Henequen-Wheat Complex for Mexico and the American and Canadian Plains (2008). The latter won the Theodore Salutos prize from the Agricultural History Association as well as the Caroline Bancroft Award. He has also edited three collections.

Randal L. Hall,"The Significance of the Long Anthropocene in American History"

Randal L. Hall is an associate professor of history at Rice University where he serves as the editor of the Journal of Southern History. He is a scholar of wide-ranging interests, having authored two monographs, his most recent being Mountains on the Market: Industry, the Environment, and the South (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2012). With John Boles, he co-edited Seeing Jefferson Anew: In His Time and Ours (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010), and recently published and edited for publication Alexander Smyth's 1811 account of rape that occurred in Virginia in 1806, which Dr. Hall has titled A Rape in the Early Republic: Gender and Legal Culture in an 1806 Virginia Trial (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2017). Among his current projects is an examination of the long Anthropocene in American history, a project which grew out of a two-semester course he taught to advanced students at Rice under the auspices of a Mellon Foundation Grant to Rice University’s Humanities Research Center.


Peter Coclanis, "Metamorphosis: The Imperial Transformation of Colonial Burma"

Peter Coclanis is the Albert R. Newsome Professor, former chair of the history department, and current director of the Global Research Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Global Research Institute, founded in 2009, is envisioned as a center for scholarly research on key international questions and as a conduit through which generated knowledge can successfully be disseminated and applied to problems in the real world. He is currently working on the creation of integrated world markets for tropical and semi-tropical commodities, with a special emphasis on rice. This project has taken him to archives and rice paddies all over the world. Coclanis is the author and editor or co-editor of numerous books, has also written over 150 scholarly articles, essays and book reviews, and has received several grants and fellowships over the years.  He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Economics and a faculty affiliate in the Department of Asian Studies. Coclanis is the former president of several large professional organizations, including the Historical Society and the Agricultural History Society, and is the recipient of a lifetime achievement award and concurrent professorship from the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture. In fall 2005, he held the Sir Thomas Stafford Raffles Distinguished Professorship in History at the National University of Singapore.

Jeremy Vetter,"Field Life: Science in the American West during the Railroad Era"

Jeremy Vetter is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Arizona. He received his PhD in 2005 in the History and Sociology of Science program at the University of Pennsylvania. His research is at the intersection of environmental history and the 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 history of capitalism and political economy, the involvement of lay people in the field sciences, and the history of science in the national parks.

R. Jay Malone,"Science in Old Mississippi: Bringing Science and Humanity to the People"

Jay Malone is the Executive Director of the History of Science Society and Fellow at the John J. Reilly Center of the University of Notre Dame. Jay became HSS’s first executive director when he was hired in 1998. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Florida, where he studied under Frederick Gregory and Bertram Wyatt Brown; his dissertation focused on the planter/naturalist William Dunbar. His work examines science in the Old Southwest (lower Mississippi River Valley). He represents the HSS in various sister societies, such as the American Council of Learned Societies, and serves on numerous committees.

Jessica Wang,"Medical Therapeutics, Political Culture, and Global Imperialism: Rabies Remedies in 19th-Century America"

Jessica Wang is an Associate Professor int he Department of History at the University of British Columbia. Her recently completed book manuscript, "Mad Dogs and Other New Yorkers: Rabies, Medicine, and Society in an American Metropolis, 1840-1920," uses the social history of a dread disease to explore urban social geography, the place of domesticated animals in the nineteenth-century city, the nature of physicians' self-fashioning and the role of pathological anatomy in the construction of medical identity, the institutional contexts of medicine, disease, and public health, and the ties between the public-private relationship, urban governance, and American state-building.  This research also rests on Wang's longer-term engagement with questions about the social and political contexts of knowledge, ideas, and public authority, which she has also addressed through studies of cold war American science, science and democratic political theory, social science and New Deal political economy, internationalism and U.S. foreign relations, and social knowledge, state power, and American globalism.  She will continue to develop these themes in a new book project on inter-imperial collusion and American empire in the early twentieth century.  Wang's publications include American Science in an Age of Anxiety (link is external) (1999), as well as articles in the Journal of American History, Isis, Osiris, the Journal of Policy History, Historical studies in the natural sciences, the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, and other forums.

Katherine Jellison,"Farm Masculinity in World War II"

Katherine Jellison is Professor and Chairperson in the Department of History at Ohio University. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Iowa, where she studied with one of the pioneers in the field of U.S. women’s history, Linda K. Kerber.  She has received numerous research grants and fellowships, including awards from the Smithsonian Institution and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. Jellison is the author of two books as well as many journal articles and book chapters. She is currently working on a book about Old Order Amish women in the 1930s and 1940s. She serves as chair of the Ohio University Press Editorial Board. She is also an officer in two international scholarly organizations, serving as co-chairwoman of the Rural Women's Studies Association (RWSA) and president of the Agricultural History Society (AHS)


Alan Olmstead,"New Views on the Economics of Slavery"

Alan Olmstead is Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of California - Davis. Over much of his career, he has focused on agricultural economics. Among his recent publications are Creating Abundance: Biological Innovation and American Agricultural Development  (2008) and Arresting Contagion: Science, Policy, and Conflicts over Animal Disease Control (2015), both of which were co-authored with Paul Rhode.

Brian C. Black,"Energy Hinge? Tracing an American Energy Transition in Consumer Culture since the 1970s"

Brian C. Black is a Professor of History and Environmental Studies and Head of the Division of Arts and Humanities at Penn State Altoona. His primary research focuses on energy studies. He is the author of ten books, including the award-winning Petrolia(Johns Hopkins, 2003) and Crude Reality (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012).


Ellen Spears,"Beyond All Decency": Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town” (April 9, 2015)

Ellen Spears is an Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Alabama. Her work examines civil rights history and the environment. She is the author of Baptized in PCBs (University of North Carolina Press, 2014) and The Newtown Story.

Sally McMurry,"Agricultural History on the Ground" (January 16, 2015)

Sally McMurry is a professor emerita at Penn State University and a past president of the Agricultural History Society. Her research centers on rural landscapes and architecture, straddling the divide between academic and public history. Among her numerous publications are Families and Farmhouses in Nineteenth-Century America Transforming Daily Life: Dairying Families and Agricultural Change, 1820-1885.

Lisa Brady, “Murdered Nature: Towards an Environmental History of Modern War” (October 3, 2014)

Lisa Brady is a Professor of History at Boise State University and serves as the editor of Environmental History. Her research focuses on the intersection of environmental history and military history. She is the author of War Upon the Land (University of Georgia Press, 2012).


Mark Barrow, “Alligator Tales: The Life and Times of a Charismatic Reptile” (April 25, 2014)

Mark Barrow is a Professor and Chair of the History Department at Virginia Tech University. His work examines American environmental history and the history of science. His more recent monographs include: Nature’s Ghosts (University of Chicago Press, 2009) and A Passion for Birds (Princeton University Press, 1998).

Jeannie Whayne, “The Plantation’s Nine Lives, 1607-2014” (January 31, 2014)

Jeannie Whayne is a Professor of History at the University of Arkansas and Adjunct Curator of American History at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. She has edited, authored, and co-authored nine books, her most recent monograph is Delta Empire (LSU Press, 2011).

Mark Fiege, “Writing The Republic of Nature and Rethinking American History” (November 8, 2013)

Mark Fiege is a Professor of History at Colorado State University and founder of the Public Lands History Center. His research interests include environmental history and the West. He is the author of Irrigated Eden (University of Washington Press, 1999) and The Republic of Nature (University of Washington Press, 2012).


Megan Kate Nelson, “Battle Logs: The Ruined Forests of the American Civil War” (February 8, 2013)

Megan Kate Nelson is a writer and scholar of the American Civil War. She engages both the academic community and the wider public with her writing, contributing regularly to the Civil War Monitor as well as The New York Times and Washington Post. Her most recent work, Path of the Dead Man: How the West was Won--and Lost--during the American Civil War, won the 2017 NEH Public Scholar Award, and will be published in 2020 by Scribner.

Brian Cannon, "Homesteading Remembered: Sesquicenennial Prespectives on the Homestead Act and Its Legacy" (January 20, 2012)

Brian Cannon is a Professor of History at Brigham Young University. His research focuses on rural life and federal policy, as well as agricultural settlement in the American West. He has won numerous awards for his scholarship, including recognition from the Agricultural History Society, the Ford Foundation, and the Western History Association.


Mart Stewart, “Plantations, Environmental History, and the American South” (February 24, 2012)

Mart Stewart is a Professor of History at Western Washington University. His research interests include 19th century U.S. history, environmental history, and the history of science. His many publications include "What Nature Suffers to Groe": Life, Labor, and Landscape on the Georgia Coast, 1680-1920 (1996) and Environmental Change and Agricultural Sustainability in the Mekong Delta (2011), an edited collection co-edited with Peter Coclanis.

Jess Gilbert, “A New Deal Experiment in Land Reform: African-American Resettlement Communities in the Rural South, 1935-2005" (October 17, 2011)

Jess Gilbert is the Director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies's Center for Culture, History, and Environment. He is a widely-published author on the intersections between the state, agriculture, and intellectual theory across the United States. His most recent work is Planning Democracy: Agrarian Intellectuals and the Intended New Deal (Yale University Press, 2015).