Jeremy Vetter

Winner of the 2018 Philip J. Pauly Prize for the best first book on the history of science in the Americas

Jeremy Vetter (University of Arizona)

In Field Life: Science in the American West during the Railroad Era (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016), Jeremy Vetter has produced an exciting, deeply researched analysis of field science in the North American West of the railroad era (roughly the half century between the Civil War and World War I), and a model for advancing scholarship of the environmental history of science. The book charts an ambitious course, drawing upon many archival collections while engaging with the historiography and broader literature of science and technology studies, geography, and  environmental studies. Combining broad strokes and detailed case studies, Vetter considers four different modes of scientific practice during this era: lay networks, geological surveys, fossil quarries, and field stations, all of which were rooted in place. Complementing his analysis of place is his consideration of the laborers of science. Vetter’s book reminds us to consider the many different contributors to the scientific endeavor in the field, including the resident lay observers of nature and the numerous support staff necessary for surveys, fossil quarries, and field stations to function as centers of productive scientific work.

Vetter demonstrates a mastery of the extensive scholarship encompassing the history of science in the West while adding his own insights regarding the importance of place-based knowledge production and divisions of scientific labor in the field. We are very pleased to recognize his impressive achievement with the inaugural Philip Pauly Prize for the best first book on the history of American science.

Jacob Darwin Hamblin, Christine Keiner, and Marc Rothenberg (Chair)


See Vetter’s profile at the University of Arizona.


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