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Lisa Ruth Rand

Assistant Professor of History
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Contact information for Lisa Ruth Rand
Contact Method Value
Mail Code: Mail Code 101-40
Office: 201B Dabney Hall
Phone: 626-395-5763
Administrative Assistant:
B.A., Barnard College, 2005; M.A., University of Pennsylvania, 2011; Ph.D., 2016. Assistant Professor, Caltech, 2021-.

Lisa Ruth Rand is a historian of technology, science, and the environment who tends to gravitate toward extreme natures and broken things. Rand is currently writing a first book that explores the environmental history of outer space by focusing on the high technology waste byproducts popularly known as space junk. In this research, entanglements of human and non-human natural forces drive disuse, disorder, and decay in orbit, playing a significant part in shaping the uneven global contours of the Space Age. Additional interests include public history, critical discard studies, and extraterrestrial futurism, from the technopolitics of planetary analog habitats to the colonizing role of Republican Motherhood in frontier narratives.

Before coming to Caltech, Rand held positions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, and the Science History Institute. In 2019 she received the Emerging Scholars Global Policy Prize from the Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania and in 2022 will hold a Guggenheim Fellowship at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Selected Publications

  • Space Junk: A History of Waste in Orbit. (Harvard University Press, forthcoming).
  • "Techno-Diplomacy of the Planetary Periphery, 1960s-1970s" with Nina C. Wormbs in History of the International Telecommunication Union: Transnational Techno-Diplomacy from the Telegraph to the Internet, ed. Andreas Fickers and Gabriele Balbi (De Gruyter, 2020).
  • "Falling Cosmos: Nuclear Reentry and the Environmental History of Earth Orbit." Environmental History 24 no. 1 (January 2019).
  • "Beyond the Biosphere: Expanding the Limits of the Human World." In Living in the Anthropocene: Earth in the Age of Humans, W. John Kress and Jeffrey K. Stine, eds. (Smithsonian Institution, 2017).
  • "Colonizing Mars: Practicing Other Worlds on Earth." Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective 11 no. 2 (November 2017).
  • "The Case for Female Astronauts: Reproducing Americans in the Final Frontier." The Appendix 2 no. 3 (July 2014).