Lisa Ruth Rand is an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research explores the histories of science, technology, and the environment during the Cold War, and she holds particular expertise in space history with additional training in gender and sexuality studies. 

Rand earned her PhD in History and Sociology of Science from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016. Both her doctoral dissertation and her first book project, currently in progress, illuminate the environmental history of orbital space. Through this research, Rand focuses on “space junk” – human-made artifacts designed for use in space that no longer serve a designated purpose. She also studies the history of planetary analog habitats, the history of astronomy, extraterrestrial futurism, and frontiers across American history. 

Rand has written about the Biosphere 2 and other planetary microcosms including Mars habitats. She has also published research on women’s civic roles in American frontiers from the westward expansion of European Americans during the 17th and 18th centuries to the space race of the 1960s. Her work has been published in The Atlantic, Popular Mechanics, and Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective. She contributed a chapter on space junk to Living in the Anthropocene: Earth in the Age of Humans, a book published by the Smithsonian Institution in September 2017. 

Rand has held fellowships with NASA, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and the Consortium for History of Science, Technology, and Medicine. She is a part-time policy analyst at the RAND Corporation and a Research Associate at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Department of Space History. She has appeared on NPR affiliate stations in Philadelphia and Wisconsin, CSPAN, and NASA TV.

Follow her on Twitter at @orbital_decay.

Sub-specialties: space travel, space technology, space debris, waste & pollution, gender and technology, history of technology, environmental history, extreme environments, frontierism, maintenance, infrastructures, decay, space policy.



Expert DirectLink

Articles, Publications, Appearances