- Director of the World History Center
- Associate Professor, Department of History
Dr. Ruth Mostern is a specialist in spatial and environmental history focusing on imperial China and the world. An interdisciplinary scholar with research interests bridging the humanities, social sciences, information science and environmental science, she has authored one book and edited another and has completed two major digital publications and eighteen articles. She has raised approximately $1.8 million in extramural funding and currently holds grants from both the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Science Foundation.
Mostern's current research reconstructs the environmental history of the Yellow River as a human and natural system. She is studying the entire river basin (which stretches from the Tibetan plateau to the Pacific Ocean) during a timeframe of approximately 5,000 years in order to assess when, and to what degree, human activity in the upper and middle reaches of the river increased the risk of flooding on the densely populated lower course of the river. She is creating a digital atlas that includes a GIS (a digital mapping system) and database of the dates and locations of disasters and civil engineering works in the river basin. This data-rich atlas will support interdisciplinary advances in the understanding of large-scale human-environmental impact.
Mostern is also Principal Investigator of a collaborative initiative, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, to create a World-Historical Gazetteer that includes content and infrastructure for spatial linked open data to permit large-scale and long-term historical analysis and visualization.