My post-doctoral project titled “Sea Stories: Constructing Nature in the Rigs-to-Reefs Debate” was an examination of the modern history of the Rigs-to-Reefs program in which decommissioned oil and gas offshore platform jackets are converted into artificial reefs. In this project, I examined the scientific and political controversies surrounding Rigs-to-Reefs since the mid-1970s in the Gulf of Mexico, California Bight and North Sea. By analyzing the historical development of artificial coral reef research in conjunction with political and business discussions about offshore disposal of oil structures, the project hopes to shed light on why policies have developed differently in the three areas. I am particularly interested in how a combination of science, politics, economics, and culture work together to define what is “natural.”

Artifacts and habitats

In The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities, ed. Ursula Heise, Jon Christensen, and Michelle Niemann, 138-143. Routledge, 2017. Abstract: Humans see distinctions between artifacts, which are constructed by human hands with human ingenuity, and nature, which we tend to think of as somehow not made by humans even if…

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The Palm Islands, Dubai, UAE

In Iconic designs: 50 stories about 50 things, ed. G. Lees-Maffei. London: Bloomsbury, 2014. While not exactly an artificial reef, the history of the Palm Islands in Dubai bring up many of the same issues about naturalness versus artificiality that are common themes of rigs-to-reefs discussions. In lieu of an…

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Oasis in a Watery Desert lecture

I had the privilege to give a lecture on November 4, 2014, as part of the 2014 Sagan National Colloquium Water in World at Ohio Wesleyan University (USA). The video of the lecture titled “Oasis in a Watery Desert” is available online.

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Environmentalists on both sides: Enactments in the California rigs-to-reefs debate

In New Natures: Joining Environmental History with Science and Technology Studies, ed. Dolly Jørgensen, Finn Arne Jørgensen & Sara Pritchard (Pittsburgh: Univ of Pittsburgh Press, 2013), 51-68. Classic environmental histories of the environmentalist movement tell stories of pro-environmentalists fighting against anti-environmentalist interests who typically opt for economic gain over environmental preservation.…

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Rigs-to-reefs is more than rigs and reefs

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 10 (2012): 178–179. This peer-reviewed letter makes a case for integrating policy history into scientific recommendations for rigs-to-reefs programs by examining the failed attempt to make the Odin platform into Norway’s first rig-to-reef project.  Available online (open access)

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OSPAR’s exclusion of rigs-to-reefs in the North Sea

Ocean and Coastal Management 58 (2012): 57-61. This article focuses on how the debate over the deepwater disposal of offshore oil and gas installations has been central to shaping North Sea artificial reef policy. Through a close empirical historical study, this article reconstructs how Greenpeace’s protest of the deepwater disposal of…

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