Peter Westwick

Professor of the Practice of Thematic Option and History (part-time)
Peter Westwick
Email Office SOS 153 Office Phone (213) 740-1657


  • Ph.D. History, UC Berkeley, 1999
  • M.A. History, UC Berkeley, 1993
  • B.A. Physics, UC Berkeley, 1989
  • Research, Teaching, Practice, and Clinical Appointments

    • Assistant Professor (Research), University of Southern California, 2009-2015

    PostDoctoral Appointments

    • Postdoctoral Fellow, Caltech, 1999-2000

    Visiting and Temporary Appointments

    • 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
  • 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

  • Book

    • Westwick, P. (2020). Stealth: The Secret Contest to Invent Invisible Aircraft. Oxford University Press (trade history).
    • 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 Chapters

    • 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.
    • Ernest O. Lawrence, A detailed biographical website sponsored by the Center for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics (launched 2002 at , 2002-2003
    • 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
    • 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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