Robles HeadshotI am a Postdoctoral Fellow in Dartmouth College’s Society of Fellows and a Lecturer in Dartmouth’s Department of History. I received my PhD in American Studies from Harvard University in 2019 and specialize in early American history, the history of science, material culture theory, and environmental studies.

My book project, Curious Species: How Animals Made Natural History, 1700–1820, examines the formative role animals and specimens played in early American science. I study creatures such as corals, rattlesnakes, fish, and raccoons to illustrate how nonhumans shaped the Enlightenment project that sought to study them, resulting in both the advancement and loss of natural knowledge.

My most recent publications include an essay in Commonplace: The Journal of Early American Life on the challenges of reenacting eighteenth-century fish taxidermy, an article in The New England Quarterly about a 1755 earthquake that rattled Boston, and an essay on flattened scientific specimens and modes of observation, published in the book The Philosophy Chamber: Art and Science in Harvard’s Teaching Cabinet, 1766–1820. I am also an affiliate researcher with the Stanford-based Natural Things | Ad Fontes Naturae research group, a global natural history project in the digital humanities, where I am tracing the interlinked paths of food history, natural history, and empire using digital methods and historical objects like squid and breadfruit. My research has been supported by the American Historical Association, the American Antiquarian Society, the Smithsonian Institution, the British Library, the William L. Clements Library, the Boston Athenaeum, the Lewis Walpole Library, the Linda Hall Library, the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, the Center for American Political Studies, the Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine, and other institutions.

I received my A.M. in History from Harvard and my B.A. in American Studies (with a concentration in nature writing) from Yale University. In my days before academia, I worked as a science editor for a global health laboratory at Caltech and as a freelance science and nature writer. I also penned stories on firefly sex, flavor perception, and terraforming Mars while working as a writer at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.