Regulatory policy wasn’t on my mind when I decided to become a historian. I liked environmental history and I thought I’d study my environmentalist heroes, or maybe their polluting foes. But somewhere along the line, I realized that the regulators standing in the background in every story had played a vital role that had gone largely unrecognized.
As I read memos and reports and began to interview former regulators, it became clear to me that what was happening inside regulatory agencies mattered as much as the laws passed by Congress or directives from the White House in shaping what pollution control looked like in the real world. I ended up writing my dissertation about the history of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the cultural values that determine the air we breathe. I'm currently working on a book that tells EPA's story and explores the ascent of economics in policymaking in the twentieth century.
I teach courses on the environment, regulation, and United States history more generally as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Wesleyan University. When I was an undergrad at Lewis & Clark College, one of my favorite professors was also a yoga teacher and she liked to say that yoga was about pushing yourself right up to your breaking point and then getting stronger there. I don't do yoga, but I like the idea and try to apply it in my teaching, mostly by making my students study regulatory policy.