Director, Aerospace History Project

Peter J. Westwick

Peter Westwick is a research professor in history at USC and director of ICW’s Aerospace History Project. He received his BA in physics and PhD in history from Berkeley. He is the author of Into the Black: JPL and the American Space Program, 1976-2004, which won book prizes from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the American Astronautical Society, and The National Labs: Science in an American System, 1947-1974, which won the book prize of the Forum for the History of Science in America. He is also editor of Blue Sky Metropolis: The Aerospace Century in Southern California, which was selected to Best Non-Fiction of 2012 by the LA Public Library, and co-author, with Peter Neushul, of The World in the Curl: An Unconventional History of Surfing, an LA Times bestseller. His most recent book is Stealth: The Secret Contest to Invent Invisible Aircraft. He is now working on a history of science and technology in California since the Gold Rush. In addition to overseeing archival acquisitions and oral histories for the Aerospace History Project, he contributes to ICW’s The West on Fire project.


Postdoctoral Researcher

Will Cowan

Will Cowan is a postdoctoral researcher with ICW, focusing on the West on Fire Project. He studies the history of weather and water extremes in the North American West. He earned his Ph.D. in history from USC. His dissertation tells the environmental and social histories of the Big Winter of 1862 and presents a broad overview of atmospheric rivers, elemental meteorological forces in the Pacific Slope’s past, present, and future.

Will will develop a Scalar-based publication/presentation on the pyrocene–the idea that the time period since humans first captured fire to the era of global warming, has been an age of fire (Pyne).


Affiliated Scholar and Lead Researcher of The West on Fire

Jared Dahl Aldern

Jared Dahl Aldern is a historical ecologist and a fire practitioner, who has worked in academia, K-12 education, and tribal government. An affiliated research scholar at the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, he has taught Native American history at Palomar College, San Diego State University, and Stanford University.


Laura Dominguez in green collared shirt in forest
Affiliated Scholar

Laura Dominguez

Laura Dominguez is a Mellon Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow with the National Park Service. She joins an interdisciplinary team working to preserve and reinterpret landscapes associated with the Transcontinental Railroad, looking specifically at histories of labor, indigeneity, racial violence, and the environment. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and previously earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a master’s degree in historic preservation from USC. Laura’s scholarship and public-facing work examines race, heritage, and placemaking in Los Angeles and the wider American West — avenues she is excited to continue pursuing with the ICW. 

Affiliated Scholar

Christine Garnier

Christine Garnier is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the USC Society of Fellows. She received her PhD in art history from Harvard University in 2022. Christine specializes in the histories of art, material circulation, and the environment in the Intermountain West during the nineteenth century. Her current book project, The American Silverscape: Art, Extraction, and Sovereignty (1848–1893), examines how silver objects helped assert, obscure, and resist settler-colonial rhetoric around natural resource extraction during the mining boom of the nineteenth century. By analyzing a range of media––from monumental exposition sculptures to Diné coin-silver jewelry––the project develops the analytic of the silverscape to position the study of nineteenth-century American decorative silver within broader histories of mining and land throughout the region.


Affiliated Scholar and Co-Principal Investigator of the Chinatown History Project

Greg Hise

Greg Hise studies the economies, ecologies, and social relations that have shaped American cities. In six books and more than twenty-five essays he has examined metropolitan Los Angeles, regions and regionalism, and architecture as state building among other topics, often in collaboration with ICW Director William Deverell. Hise is a Co-PI and lead contributor to the Institute’s Chinatown Research Project. His status as Professor Emeritus (UNLV) has freed time to write a history of the long struggle to open housing to all Americans, a study that brings California to the forefront of Civil Rights narratives fundamentally national in scope that have been southern and northern in their telling.


Portrait of Jameson Karns in a brown jacket in front of body of water with hills in background and cloudy sky.
Assistant Research Director of The West on Fire

Jameson Karns

Jameson Karns received his Bachelor’s degree with High Honors, Master’s degree, and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. He is the Assistant Research Director to The West on Fire. Prior to academia, he served as a wildland firefighter for over a decade in California. His previous work includes working as an analyst with: the RAND Corporation, the United States Forest Service, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Global Fire Monitoring Center based in Germany. Jameson’s work, publications, and teaching focuses on the role of international forestry and fire management in the 19th and 20th centuries.


Digital Historian

Kate McInerny

Kate McInerny graduated summa cum laude from UCLA with a BA in Public Affairs and minor in Digital Humanities. In her research she uses geospatial data analysis and digital mapping to address social and urbanistic questions, with a specific focus on racial (in)justice. For ICW, she is working to digitize maps and synthesize historical records for a multi-layered narrative on LA’s Old Chinatown neighborhood. In a separate, UCLA-based project, she is analyzing the racialized impacts of Los Angeles law enforcement helicopter surveillance. Kate is committed to research that is accountable to impacted community members and those resisting systems of oppression.


Affiliated Scholar of The West on Fire

Rebecca Miller

Rebecca Miller is currently a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow working with the Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations as part of their Climate Security and Resilience Program. Rebecca Miller is an affiliated scholar with the West of Fire Project, where she was also a postdoctoral scholar for the 2021-2022 academic year. She completed her PhD in Environment and Resources with a minor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. Rebecca is also an affiliated scholar with the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University. Rebecca’s research focuses on how recent wildfires have shaped policies and community resilience in California. Prior to her doctoral studies, Rebecca earned a Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs and a BA in History from Yale University.


Affiliated Scholar and Co-Principal Investigator of the Chinatown History Project

Eugene Moy

Eugene Moy has been involved with public history and historic preservation for nearly 50 years. He has served on the boards of the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, the Friends of the Chinese American Museum, Chinese American Citizens Alliance Los Angeles, the Save Our Chinatown Committee (Riverside CA), the Historical Society of Long Beach, and other organizations. Over the years, he has researched and provided many talks on Chinatown and Chinese American history, and has assisted many students, undergraduate and graduate, and many journalists, researchers, and historians, with their research.

Professionally, he is retired after over 35 years in municipal planning and economic development, working for cities in Los Angeles County, and continues to serve on the board of a non-profit affordable housing development corporation.

Eugene is a native of Los Angeles, a graduate of California State University Long Beach, and has resided with his family in the San Gabriel Valley since 1986.

Photo credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Affiliated Scholar

Laura Nelson

Laura Nelson is a Mellon Humanities and the University of the Future postdoctoral fellow. She studies radical experiments in education artmaking, and collectivity from the 1920s to the present, with a focus on California. Her historical research has focused on projects like the California Labor School, the Llano del Rio Cooperative, the SF Liberation School, the Berkeley Free University, the Black Panthers’ Oakland Community School, and Noah Purifoy’s junk art workshops. Outside the university, she organizes experimental spaces of learning and gathering, including the Oakland Summer School, There Will Always Be Soup, and the Library of Study. She is currently co-curating a site-specific experimental lecture series, Place Settings, throughout Los Angeles. She received a Ph.D. at Harvard University in American Studies and has taught at Harvard, Deep Springs College, and the Tidelines Institute.


Affiliated Research Scholar

Becky Nicolaides

Becky Nicolaides is the co-coordinator of the LA History & Metro Studies group. She received her B.A. from USC in history and journalism and her Ph.D. in American history from Columbia University. After serving on the faculties of Arizona State University West and UC San Diego, she became an LA-based scholar and historical consultant in 2006. Her work focuses on sub/urban history and the history of Los Angeles. She is author of The New Suburbia: How Diversity Remade Suburban Life in Los Angeles After 1945 (Oxford),My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics in the Working-Class Suburbs of Los Angeles, 1920-1965 (Chicago), and co-editor of The Suburb Reader, 2 editions (Routledge). Her articles have appeared in the Journal of Urban History, Journal of American Ethnic History, Pacific Historical Review, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post. She is currently a lead project member of the USC Library’s “Los Angeles County Demographic Data Project 1950-2010,” funded by the NEH, and is co-P.I. of the EU Erasmus+ transnational project “Urbanism and Suburbanization in the EU Countries and Abroad: Reflection in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts.”  She previously served as a subcommittee co-chair for Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Civic Memory working group, and on the governing council of the American Historical Association.


Affiliated Scholar

Naomi Sussman

Naomi Sussman is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the USC Society of Fellows after receiving her Ph.D. from Yale University in 2022. She works across discipline to narrate the Indigenous histories of California and the Southwest. Her current book project, Between the River and the Sea: The History of California’s Native heartland1781-1931, reimagines the California interior as a Native heartland. She shows that Native people, not missionaries or miners, shaped the California’s destiny between 1781 and 1931. This inheritance of power and resistance animates contemporary Native resurgences in California and North America more broadly. Naomi also seeks to translate histories of Indigenous power into formats that serve contemporary Native sovereignty work, work she’s excited to continue with ICW.