Skip to content

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 since 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.

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 have a 130 gallon coral reef aquarium in my living room. I used to whitewater kayak ┬ábut 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 19,898 feet AGL in Back Rock Desert, Nevada, achieved during XPRS 2016.