Bio and Current Research


The author of Arming Mother Nature, Poison in the Welland Oceanographers and the Cold War, Jacob Darwin Hamblin writes about the history and politics of science, technology, and environmental issues. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, ScienceSalon, and many publications devoted to the history of science, technology, and the natural world. He is Professor of History at Oregon State University.

Hamblin is the recipient the American Historical Association’s Birdsall Prize (for best book in military or strategic history) and the History of Science Society’s Davis Prize (for best book for a general audience).

Hamblin created H-Environment Roundtable Reviews and edited more than thirty of them from 2010-2015. He commissioned and edited essay reviews for Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences from 2011-2015, and has served as advisory editor for that journal continuously since 2011. He was advisory editor of Isis from 2009-2011, has been on the advisory board of Environmental History since 2013, and was a founding editorial board member of Modern American History.

His university faculty page is located here.

Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism is a book that challenges us to consider how much our views of global environmental change come from collaboration between scientists and the military as they planned to fight, and to survive, a third world war. The book won the 2014 Paul Birdsall Prize from the American Historical Association, for best book in military or strategic history. His previous book, Poison in the Well: Radioactive Waste in the Oceans at the Dawn of the Nuclear Age, was the first international history of one of the least-understood environmental controversies of the twentieth century. An earlier book, Oceanographers and the Cold War, explores the reasons for the explosive growth of the marine sciences after World War II.

Current Research Projects

Hamblin is researching and writing a book about the links between environmental crisis and nuclear “solutions” in the most vulnerable parts of the world. This includes today’s “nuclear renaissance” in response to climate change, but also digs into the controversies surrounding mutation plant breeding, water desalination, and insect control, from 1945 to the present.

In addition, Hamblin is the PI on the Downwinders Project, working with colleague Linda Richards. We are developing archival collections, conducting oral histories, and doing research on the history of radiation and dose reconstruction related to cancer victims and nuclear sites. More on that here.

You can email him here.