Message from the Chair

 department chair

The Cal Poly History Department is deeply proud of our recent graduates and current students and thankful for your continued support and friendship.

2014-15 was another year of achievement and excellence for our department. Fifty undergraduates and 10 graduate students earned history degrees, entering the world more knowledgeable and equipped with sharpened writing and analytic skills. Thirty students participated in the department’s internship program (HIST 467), gaining advanced experience for future careers. Support from our network of donors enabled the department to award 14 merit-based scholarships and writing prizes, which facilitate our students’ ongoing success.

The past year also brought exciting growth and changes to our department team. Two newly hired faculty, Dr. Anne "Andie" Reid and Dr. Brian Beaton, joined us and began teaching in the fall. Reid comes to us from Cal State Los Angeles with a doctorate from the University of Southern California and specialties in the history of California and the Spanish-American borderlands. Beaton joins us from the University of Pittsburgh with a doctorate from the University of Toronto and will expand our offerings in the history of science and technology, digital history, and modern U.S. history. For 2015-16 we will be conducting a search for a historian of Latin America.

We also welcomed an important new member to our office staff. After four years of service as the department’s administrative support coordinator (ASC), Kimberly Barton has moved up to another position within the university. I know those of you who interacted with Barton in the office, by phone or email, or at graduation or events join me in gratitude for her work. Dejana Lubura began as the department’s new ASC in 2015. We are thankful to have her, and she will be a key part of our success moving forward.

Members of the current History Department faculty continue to raise the department’s profile in the scholarly community in ways that benefit our students with their award-winning research and publications. This past year was especially rewarding and productive:

  • Kate Murphy won a $152,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the connections between early modern science and the British slave trade. 
  • Matt Hopper won the 2015-16 Smuts Visiting Research Fellowship in Commonwealth Studies at Cambridge University; he will be studying liberated Africans in the Indian Ocean world.
  • Harvard University Press published Sarah Bridger's book “Scientists at War: The Ethics of Cold War Weapons Research;” largely on the strength of this book, Bridger won the College of Liberal Arts Early Career Achievement in Scholarship Award.
  • Molly Loberg's article “The Streetscape of Economic Crisis: Commerce, Politics and Urban Space in Interwar Berlin” won the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians' History Article Prize.
  • James Tejani's article “Dredging the Future: The Destruction of Coastal Estuaries and the Creation of Metropolitan Los Angeles, 1858-1913" won the Western History Association's Ray Allen Billington Prize and the Historical Society of Southern California's Doyce B. Nunis, Jr. Award. 
  • And my paper, “‘A Very Specific Skill Set’: Joss Whedon’s Black Widow as Radical Icon of Third Wave Feminism,” won the Mr. Pointy Award for the best paper in Whedon Studies at the sixth biennial Slayage Conference
     

This issue of our online newsletter contains more detail on these and other accomplishments. We hope you will continue to stay connected with the department and be part of our success in years to come. Please keep us updated on your latest endeavors.

Sincerely,

Lewis Call
Chair

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