About Me

Catalina Diving
Diving off Catalina Island

I’m a historian of science and technology living in Altadena, California. I completed a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1998, with a dissertation on the development of aircraft landing aids. I work as the historian of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a unit of Caltech.

Most of my work has been at the intersection of science and technology in the later 20th century, and mostly related to aerospace. My most recent book was Exploration and Engineering: The Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Quest for Mars, published in 2015. I recently received a Guggenheim Fellowship with Naomi Oreskes, and served as the inaugural Fellow for the joint Caltech/Huntington Research Institute for the History of Science and Technology. I have three book manuscripts trapped in the publication chain: The Big Myth with Naomi Oreskes, due from Bloomsbury USA in 2023; A History of Near-Earth Objects Research, with Donald K Yeomans and Meg Rosenburg, due from NASA in 2022; and Electrical Conquest, edited with Bernard Carlson, under review. I also have an essay coming in Kevin Kruse and Juilian Zelizer’s Myth America.

Prior to graduate school, I served as an officer in the U.S. Navy for four years, serving as a Damage Control Assistant and Acting Chief Engineer on a tank landing ship, and then as an operations officer for COMPHIBRON ONE in San Diego, CA.

I downhill ski (mostly at the wonderful Mammoth Mountain in California, though I love Alta too), and scuba dive. I used to whitewater kayak but haven’t run a river in many years. I practice high power rocketry (NAR Level 2) with the Rocketry Organization of California in my free time. My current personal altitude record is 22,098 feet AGL in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, achieved during XPRS 2019.