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Joshua McGuffie

Contact Information

Email    jmcguffi@ucla.edu
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History of Science, Environmental History, History of the Western United States and the Occupied Pacific

I study the history of science with a focus on atomic history. A native Angelino, I'm thrilled to study at UCLA. In 2015, I graudated from Oregon State University with an MA in the history of science. My research there focused on the environmental history of the Hanford Nuclear Site in central Washington state. For my doctoral research, I study a network of American doctors and scientists who were the first biological researchers at atomic sites. They worked at Alamogordo, visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki just weeks after their bombings, and created research programmes at the Pacific Proving Ground and the Nevada Test Site. I am interested in their experimental systems and the role of infrastructure and space in those systems. I'm also interested in human beings as test subjects. Based on these concerns that grow out of America's atomic legacy, I'm finally interested with the role of atomic testing and evironmental degradation in the creation of the US's superpower status.

Visit some of my work at his website: naturesciencehistory, including the blog from my 5000+ mile atomic roadtrip in the Summer of 2016.

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Fields of Study

History of Science and Environmental History with a focus on science and landscapes, atomic science, and the victims of 20th century environmental degradation and exposure to radioactive contaminants.



  • “The Joy of the Find:  A Review of Form and Landscape,” review of Form and Landscape, by William Deverell and Greg Hise, UCLA Historical Journal 29:1 (2018), 81 – 84.
  • Chemical Lands: Pesticides, Aerial Spraying, and Health in North America’s Grasslands since 1945, by David D. Vail, The Western Historical Quarterly 49:4 (Winter 2018), 483.
  • Energy: A Human History, by Richard Rhodes, Science 360:6393 (2018), 1062.

Grants and Awards

Mellon/Excellence in Pedagogy and Innovative Classrooms Fellow in Environmental Humanities, Winter 2019

Conference Presentations

“Imaging Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Knowing the Bomb by Knowing the Bodies of its Victims,”

  • Columbia History of Science Group, Friday Harbor, Washington, March 2018

 “New for ‘51: Radiation Monitoring and Novel Atomic Geographies”

  • American Historical Society – Pacific Coast Branch, Northridge, California, August 2017

“Hidden Atomic Loci: Cooperation in Radioecology at the UCLA Atomic Energy Project and the University of Washington Applied Fisheries Laboratory in the 1940s and 1950s”

  • International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology, Sao Paulo, Brazil, July 2017

“No Significant Risk: Creating the Norms for Public Irradiation at Hanford”

  • UC Berkeley Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society “Faking It: Counterfeits, Copies, and Uncertain Truths in Science, Technology and Medicine, April 2015

“A Landscape up for Grabs: How Hanford's Environmental Scientists Recreated Nature at the United States’ most Polluted Place”

  • OSU Library Resident Scholar Presentation, Corvallis, Oregon, October 2014

“Hanford Reach: Ironic Preservation or the Same Old Mission?”

  • Columbia History of Science Group, Friday Harbor, Washington, March 2014


BA - UCLA, Geography

MDiv. - Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary

MA - Oregon State University, History of Science