Robert Gardner

Assistant Professor
Visiting Faculty 2016-2019
History of Science and Technology
Gardner Headshot


Environmental history; history of technology; history of forestry, ecological restoration, and ecological engineering; US history


Bob Gardner is an environmental historian with a special interest in envirotechnical systems.  His research focuses on the confluence of culture, environment, and technology in American history, specifically, applied ecology as environmental and social engineering and the interactive influence of technology and environment.  He is interested in how people incorporate organisms and ecological processes into their societies in productive efforts and how historical examples of this can foster a more cooperative environmental ethic for future productions.  His previous publications and current book project, Technological Forests, examine the use of tree planting as a type of technological fix for environmental and social problems on the Great Plains and the process by which those trees became biologically and culturally naturalized and redefined as recreational forests and wildlife habitat. 

Bob received his PhD from Montana State University.  In 2011, he held a writing fellowship from the U.S. Forest Service as a Scholar in Residence at the Grey Towers historical site, Gifford Pinchot’s family home in Milford, Pennsylvania.  More recently, he taught at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas and worked in the private sector as a research historian in Missoula, Montana.

Selected Publications

"Trees as Technology: Planting Shelterbelts on the Great Plains." History and Technology 25 (December 2009): 325-341.

"Constructing a Technological Forest: Nature, Culture, and Tree Planting in the Nebraska Sand Hills," Environmental History 14 (April 2009): 275-297.