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Dr. Mark Barrow

FACULTY AFFILIATE   |   Global Change Center


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Mark Barrow’s research and teaching lie at the intersection of the history of biology (especially natural history and conservation biology), environmental history, and cultural history, particularly in the American context.  His first book, A Passion for Birds: American Ornithology after Audubon (Princeton University Press, 1998), won the Forum for the History of Science in America Book Prize and was selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Book.  His second book, Nature’s Ghosts: Confronting Extinction from the Age of Jefferson to the Age of Ecology (University of Chicago Press, 2009), examines how naturalists have engaged with the issue of wildlife extinction in the two centuries leading up to the Endangered Species Act of 1973.  This historically sweeping look at the history of conservation biology was selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title and was awarded the Susan Abrahms Prize from the University of Chicago Press and the Watson Davis and Helen Miles Davis Prize from the History of Science Society.

Dr. Barrow is currently working on a cultural and environmental history of the American alligator, a charismatic predator that we have thought about and interacted with in a variety of often contradictory ways.  While these ambiguities might emerge in sharper relief with this large toothy reptile that occasionally consumes humans, he thinks we tend to hold conflicted and contradictory understandings of other species and much of the natural world more generally.

Mark V. Barrow, Jr. is Professor and former Chair of the History Department at Virginia Tech and an affiliated faculty member with the Science and Technology in Society Department.  He has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of the History of BiologyIsis, and Environmental History.  He regularly teaches a variety of undergraduate courses in environmental history, the history of biology, and historical methods, and a graduate course in environmental history.