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Peter Westwick

Assistant Professor (Research) of History

Contact Information
Phone: (213) 740-1657
Office: SOS 153

Curriculum Vitae


Ph.D. History, UC Berkeley, 1999
M.A. History, UC Berkeley, 1993
B.A. Physics, UC Berkeley, 1989

Academic Appointment, Affiliation, and Employment History

Assistant Professor (Research), University of Southern California, 2009-  
Eleanor Searle Visiting Professor in the History of Science, Caltech/Huntington Library, 2013-2014  
Huntington Fellow/Lecturer, University of Southern California, 2008-2009   
Visiting Lecturer, University of California, Santa Barbara, 2006-2008  
Olin Fellow, International Security Studies, Yale University, 2005-2006   
Senior Research Fellow in Humanities, Caltech, 2000-2004  
Postdoctoral Fellow, Caltech, 1999-2000   

Description of Research

Summary Statement of Research Interests

—History of modern science and technology —History of Southern California aerospace —International relations and national security —The Cold War —History of surfing



Westwick, P., Neushul, P. (2013). The World in the Curl: An Unconventional History of Surfing. New York: Random House.
Westwick, Peter J. (Ed.). (2012). Blue Sky Metropolis: The Aerospace Century in Southern California. Huntington Library Press and University of California Press.
Westwick, P. J. (2006). Into the Black: JPL and the American Space Program, 1976-2004. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Westwick, P. J. (2003). The National Labs: Science in an American System, 1947-1974. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Westwick, Peter J.; Carson, Cathryn; Pollock, Ethan; Williams, James H. (Ed.). (2000). Physicists in the Postwar Political Arena: Comparative Perspectives. (Vol. 30, Berkeley, CA: Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences.

Book Chapter

Westwick, P. J. (2012). "Visual Images in Planetary Exploration," chapter in Exploring the Solar System: The History and Science of Planetary Exploration.
Westwick, P. J., Neushul, P. (2012). "Aerospace and Surfing: Connecting Two California Keynotes," chapter in Where Minds and Matters Meet: Technology in California and the West. Where Mind and Matters Meet University of California Press.
Westwick, P. J. (2012). "Aerospace and Hollywood: How Computer Animation Went from Space to Cineplex," chapter in Westwick, Blue Sky Metropolis.
Westwick, P. J. (2012). Photo Essay: An Album of Early Southern California Aviation," in Westwick, Blue Sky Metropolis.
Westwick, P. J. (2007). "JPL and Southern California," chapter in Societal Impact of Spaceflight. Washington, DC: NASA.

Journal Article

Westwick, P. (2014). "Reconciling National Security and Scientific Internationalism". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Vol. 111 (Supp. 2), pp. 9327-9364.
Westwick, P. J. (2010). "The International History of the Strategic Defense Initiative: American Influence and Economic Competition in the Late Cold War," Centaurus (fall 2010). Centaurus. Vol. Fall 2010
Westwick, P. J. (2010). "Taking Flight: The Launch of the Huntington’s Aerospace History Project," cover story in Huntington Frontiers. Huntington Frontiers. Vol. Spring, 2010
Westwick, P. J. (2008). ‘Space-Strike Weapons’ and the Soviet Response to SDI. Diplomatic History. Vol. 32 (5)
Westwick, P. J. (2008). "The Strategic Offense Initiative? The Soviets and Star Wars". Physics Today. (June)
Westwick, P. J. (2007). "Reengineering Engineers: Management Philosophies at JPL in the 1990s". Technology and Culture. Vol. 48 (1)
Westwick, P. J. (2000). Secret Science: A Classified Community in the National Laboratories. Minerva. Vol. 35 (4)
Westwick, P. J. (2000). In the Beginning: The Origin of Nuclear Secrecy. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. (Nov/Dec)
Westwick, P. J. (1996). Abraded from Several Corners: Medical Physics and Biophysics at Berkeley. Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences. Vol. 27 (1)

Magazine/Trade Publication

Westwick, P. J. "The Sky Is Falling, Again: The Sequester and the Booms and Busts of Aerospace". Zocalo Public Square.
Westwick, P., Hersch, M. "Revenge of the Nerds: How Aerospace Geeks Taught Southern California to Have Fun". Zocalo Public Square.


Westwick, P. J., Deverell, W., Lewis, D. (2010). "The End of the Aerospace Century" LA Observed guest editorial, 7 Jan 2010. LA Observed.

Multimedia Scholarship and Creative Works

Exhibition, Co-curator of "Blue Sky Metropolis: The Aerospace Century in Southern California," a major exhibition at the Huntington Library, viewed by approximately 25,000 visitors. Media coverage by LA Times, LA Observed, LA Weekly, Los Angeles magazine, Pasadena Star-News, IEEE Spectrum, Air & Space magazine, Zocalo Public Square, KCRW, NPR, and KCET., 10/08/2011-01/09/2012  
Ernest O. Lawrence, A detailed biographical website sponsored by the Center for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics (launched 2002 at , 2002-2003   

Honors and Awards

Best Non-Fiction of 2012, Los Angeles Public Library, for Blue Sky Metropolis, 2012  
Gardner-Lasser Aerospace History Literature Award, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (book prize for Into the Black), 2007-2008   
Eugene M. Emme Astronautical Literature Award, American Astronautical Society (book prize for Into the Black), 2006-2007   
2004 Book Prize, Forum for the History of Science in America (book prize for The National Labs), 2004-2005   
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