Faculty by Research Specialization

The Department of History at UC Santa Cruz is known for its innovative research and exemplary scholarship. Our faculty work at the cutting edge of their respective fields, covering a wide variety of geographic, temporal, and thematic fields of study. The areas of specialization listed here are by no means an exhaustive list of our scholastic interests. Rather, they highlight the diverse and often overlapping ideas and approaches we explore within our teaching and research.

Jennifer L Derr
  • Pronouns she/they
  • Title
    • Associate Professor; Founding Director, Center for the Middle East and North Africa at UC Santa Cruz
  • Division Humanities Division
  • Department
    • History Department
  • Affiliations Center for the Middle East and North Africa (CMENA), Science & Justice Research Center
  • Phone
    831-459-3602 (office)
  • Email
  • Office Location
    • Humanities Building 1, 529
  • Office Hours Spring 2024: Thursdays, 1-3 pm in Humanities 529 or by appt. (via zoom)
  • Mail Stop Humanities Academic Services
  • Mailing Address
    • 1156 High Street
    • Santa Cruz CA 95064
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Disease and Immunity, Science Studies, Environmental Studies, Biomedical Sciences, Capitalism, Colonialism, History, Water
  • Courses HIS 41: The Making of the Modern Middle East; HIS 151A: Medicine and the Body in the Colonial World; HIS 156: Interrogating Politics in the Post-Colonial Middle East; HIS 156A: Art, Culture, and Mass Media in the Arab Middle East; HIS 157: The Ottoman Empire; HIS 194Q: Making Space in the Colonial and Post-Colonial World; HIS 194W: Social Movements in the Modern Middle East; HIS 260: History and the Spatial Turn: Making Space, Place, and Geography in History; HIS 261: The Contours of the New Middle East History
  • Advisees, Grad Students, Researchers

Research Interests

Colonial and Post-colonial Middle Eastern history; environmental history; history of science; history of medicine; critical geography

Biography, Education and Training


B.S. in Biological Sciences, Stanford University

M.A. in Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University

Ph.D. in History, Stanford University

Honors, Awards and Grants

Principal Investigator, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar on "Race, Empire, and the Environments of Biomedicine," 2021-2023

National Science Foundation CAREER Award, "History of Science at the Interface of Biomedical and Environmental Concerns," 2019-2024 

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Department III, Working Group “Art of Judgment,” Visiting Scholar, January 2019 – July 2019 

UCHRI Junior Faculty Manuscript Workshop Award, 2016-2017

National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Stipend Award Winner, 2016

Hellman Fellow, 2015-2016

Social Science Research Council Book Fellowship, 2012

Junior Fellow, Society of Fellows in British Studies, The University of Texas at Austin, 2009-2010


Selected Publications

“The Body of the Nile: Environmental disease in the long twentieth century in Egypt.” In the Handbook of Modern Egyptian History, edited by Beth Baron and Jeffrey Culang. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, February 2024.

“The Dammed Body: Thinking Historically about Water Security and Public Health.” Dædalus: A Publication of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 150, no. 4 (Fall 2021): 143-158. https://doi.org/10.1162/daed_a_01877.

“Approaching the History of an Egyptian Biomedicine.” History Compass 19, no. 6 (June 2021). https://doi-org.oca.ucsc.edu/10.1111/hic3.12656.

"Hepatitis C, COVID-19 and the Egyptian Regime’s Approach to Health Care." Middle East Report: Health and the Body Politic" 297 (Winter 2020).

The Lived Nile: Environment, disease, and material colonial economy in Egypt. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2019.

“Labor-time: Ecological bodies and agricultural labor in 19th and early 20th-century Egypt.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 50 no. 2 (May 2018): 195-212.

 “The Dirty Subject of the First World War.” International Journal of Middle East Studies vol. 46 no. 4 (November 2014): 781-783.

 “A Draft of the Colony: Historical Imagination and the Production of Agricultural Geography in British-Occupied Egypt.” In Environmental Imaginaries of the Middle East and North Africa, edited by Edmund Burke III and Diana K. Davis, 136-157. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2011.

 “Regulation of p53 by Hypoxia: Dissociation of Transcriptional Repression and Apoptosis from p53-Dependent Transactivation.” (with Constantinos Koumenis, Rodolfo Alarcon, Ester Hammond, Patrick Sutphin, William Hoffman, Maureen Murphy, Yoichi Taya, Scott W. Lowe, Michael Kastan, and Amato Giaccia) Molecular and Cellular Biology, Vol. 21, No. 4 (February 2001): 1297-1310.