Dr Alistair Sponsel

Research Affiliate

Alistair Sponsel is a historian of modern science with special interest in the history of geographical exploration, the environmental and life sciences, and the physical and earth sciences. His current research focuses on Charles Darwin’s early career and on the history of coral reef science. His book “Darwin’s First Theory will be published by the University of Chicago Press.

Alistair received his PhD in history of science from Princeton University in 2009. He comes to Vanderbilt from Harvard University, where he was a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer in the Department of the History of Science and manager of the U.S. office of the Darwin Correspondence Project. He was previously a Smithsonian Institution postdoctoral fellow. His research has been awarded prizes by the History of Science Society and the Geological Society of America. In 2013 he was named the Ritter Memorial Fellow by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The Ritter Fellowship is a biennial award to a historian, scientist, or other scholar whose research enlarges and deepens understanding of the history of the earth, ocean, and atmospheric sciences.