Plous Award is highest honor UCSB College of Letters and Science can bestow on an Assistant Professor.
Prof. Peter Alagona is Assistant Professor in the UCSB History Department, specializing in Environmental History and the History of Science.
The Plous Award was established to honor Harold J. Plous, an Assistant Professor in UCSB’s Department of Economics until his untimely death in 1957. The award is presented annually to an Assistant Professor from the humanities, social sciences or natural sciences. Selection is based on outstanding performance and promise as measured by creative action and contribution to the intellectual life of the college community.
Previous Plous Award winners from History include (in chronological order): Robert Kelley, Felice Bonadio, Harold Drake, Patricia Cohen, Sarah Cline, Randy Bergstrom, Alice O’Connor, and John W.I. Lee. A full list of previous winners may be found here.
“Peter Alagona’s research and teaching cross the humanities, social sciences, and
sciences,” said David Marshall, dean of UCSB’s Division of Humanities and Fine Arts
and executive dean of the College of Letters & Science. “It is appropriate that he should
be recognized by the College of Letters and Science with this wonderful honor.”
Pierre Wiltzius, the dean of mathematical, physical, and life sciences at UCSB,
said: “Professor Alagona wonderfully represents the collaborative spirit of UC Santa
Barbara. We are very proud of his early career accomplishments.”
Noted Carla D’Antonio, the Schuyler Professor of Environmental Studies and the
department’s acting chair: “Peter Alagona is an inspired, energetic, and truly
interdisciplinary scholar. He has reached out across departments and shown great
initiative in starting up new and exciting research programs. I am particularly excited
about his research on how nature reserves — and the UC Natural Reserve system in
particular — have contributed to the development of environmental protection in
Elizabeth Digeser, professor and acting chair of history, added: “I’m delighted
that Peter won the Plous Award. As an environmental historian whose work addresses
endangered species and analyzes the politics that flow from such designations, he
exemplifies the interdisciplinary culture that UCSB strives to foster.”
Alagona, who joined the UCSB faculty in 2008, is an environmental historian
whose work addresses the need for North Americans to understand the concept of
endangered species, and the politics that flow from that set of ideological, cultural, and
scientific constructs. His work takes insights from political, cultural, and legal history, as
well as environmental studies. In his forthcoming book, “After the Grizzly: Endangered
Species and the Politics of Place in California” (University of California Press), Alagona
explains the complex relationship between species conservation and the physical places
in which species flourish or grow extinct.
Alagona is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including collaborative
grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and The Mellon Foundation. He also
received a five-year NSF CAREER award. CAREER awards are designed to support the
early careers of scholars who are most likely to become academic leaders of the 21st
A gifted and popular instructor, Alagona is praised by his students for courses that
are “thought-provoking” and “eye-opening.” His lectures have been described as
rigorous, current, interdisciplinary, and inspiring.
In addition to his accomplishments in research and teaching, Alagona has made
significant contributions to the Department of History and Department of Environmental
Studies, as well as to the campus at large. He has served as a member of the UCSB
Faculty Senate Sustainability Committee, and is affiliated with the UCSB political
science department’s Politics of Environmental Policy graduate program, and the
campus’s Center for Nanotechnology in Society.
jwil: hm 6/12/12