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Kate Brown


  • Advisor
  • Humans & the Microbiome




Kate Brown’s research interests illuminate the point where history, science, technology and bio-politics converge to create large-scale disasters and modernist wastelands. She has written four books about topics ranging from population politics, linguistic mapping, the production of nuclear weapons and concomitant utopian communities, the health and environmental consequences of nuclear fallout from the Chernobyl disaster to narrative innovations of history writing in the 21st century. She is currently exploring the history of what she calls “plant people:” indigenes, peasants and maverick scientists who understood long before others that plants communicate, have sensory capacities, and possess the capacity for memory and intelligence.  She teaches environmental history, Cold War history, and creative non-fiction history writing.


  • Finalist, National Book Critics Circle, 2020
  • Carnegie Foundation Fellowship, 2016-2018
  • Berlin Prize, American Academy, 2017
  • University of Maryland Board of Regent’s Award for Excellence in Research, 2015
  • Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, 2009-2010

Relevant Publications

  • Brown, K. (2019). Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future. Penguin UK.
  • Brown, K. L. (2013). Plutopia: Nuclear families, atomic cities, and the great Soviet and American plutonium disasters. Oxford University Press, USA.
  • Brown, K. (2009). A biography of no place. Harvard University Press.

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