Helen M. Rozwadowski


Ph.D., Pennsylvania

Areas of Specialty

History of science and technology, environmental history, maritime history, ocean history, U.S., Atlantic Ocean, Britain

Current Research Interests

History of ocean sciences, history of the ocean, law of the sea, and undersea exploration in the 1950s and 1960s


Helen M. Rozwadowski is a professor of History and founder the Maritime Studies program at the University of Connecticut, Avery Point.  She graduated from Williams College and received her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1996.  Her teaching includes environmental history, history of science, and public history, as well as interdisciplinary maritime studies courses.

Her latest book, Vast Expanses: A History of the Oceans (2018), demonstrates that the human relationship with the ocean began in evolutionary time and has tightened dramatically since them, aims to provide a model for writing ocean history, and argues that ocean histories must examine and historicize the technologies and knowledge systems that enabled and accompanied human interactions with the sea.  Her book, Fathoming the Ocean: The Discovery and Exploration of the Deep Sea (2005), which reveals the simultaneous scientific and cultural discovery of the ocean’s depths in the mid nineteenth century, won the History of Science Society’s Davis Prize for best book directed to a wide public audience.  She has written a history of 20th century marine science, The Sea Knows No Boundaries (2002), a history of 20th century marine sciences supporting international fisheries policy.  She has co-edited three volumes that have helped establish the field of history of oceanography: Soundings and Crossings: Doing Science at Sea 1800-1970 (2017), The Machine in Neptune’s Garden: Perspectives on Technology and the Marine Environment (2004), and Extremes: Oceanography’s Adventures at the Poles (2007).

Rozwadowski has worked in the past both as a public historian and also in academia. She won the Ida and Henry Schuman Prize from the History of Science Society, was awarded the William E. & Mary B. Ritter Fellowship of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and has received grants and fellowships from the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, the UConn Humanities Institute, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Science Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Selected Publications

Oceans in Three Paradoxes: Knowing the Blue through the Humanities, Virtual Exhibition, Environment and Society Portal, Virtual Exhibitions 2021, No. 2. http://www.environmentandsociety.org/exhibitions/oceans-three-paradoxes

Co-authored with Penelope K. Hardy, “Maury for Modern Times: Navigating a Racist Legacy in Ocean Science,” Oceanography 33(3) (2020): 8-13, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2020.302

“Ocean Literacy and Public Humanities,” Park Stewardship Forum; The Interdisciplinary Journal of Place-Based Conservation 36(3)(2020): 365-373. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5070/P536349841

A contribution to the Forum “Humanizing the Seas: A Case for Integrating the Arts and Humanities into Ocean Literacy and Stewardship”: https://parks.berkeley.edu/psf/

Vast Expanses: A History of the Oceans. Reaktion Press, Ltd., 2018

Co-editor, with Katharine Anderson:  Soundings and Crossings:  Doing Science at Sea 1800-1970.  Sagamore Beach, MA: Science History Publications/USA, 2017

“Scientists Writing and Knowing the Ocean,” in Steve Mentz and Martha Elena Rojas, eds., The Sea and Nineteenth-Century Anglophone Literary Culture (London: Routledge Publishing, 2016), pp. 29-46

“Reconsidering Matthew Fontaine Maury,” introduction to Forum in International Journal of Maritime History 28(2)(2016): 388-393

Co-authored with Michael S. Reidy, “The Spaces in Between: Science, Ocean, Empire,” Isis 105 (2)(2014): 338-351

“From Danger Zone to World of Wonder: The 1950s Transformation of the Ocean’s Depths,” Coriolis: Interdisciplinary Journal of Maritime Studies 4(1)(2013): 1-20

“Arthur C. Clarke and the Limitations of the Ocean as a Frontier,” Environmental History, 17 (3)(2012): 578-602

“Playing by – and on and under – the Sea: The Importance of Play for Knowing the Ocean,” in Jeremy Vetter, ed., Knowing Global Environments: New Historical Perspectives on the Field Sciences. Rutgers University Press, 2010, pp. 162-189.

“Oceans: Fusing the History of Science and Technology with Environmental History,” in Douglas Cazaux Sackman, ed. A Companion to American Environmental History. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010, pp. 442-461

Extremes: Oceanography’s Adventures at the Poles, Keith R. Benson and Helen M. Rozwadowski, eds. Sagamore Beach, MA: Science History Publications/USA, spring 2007

Fathoming the Ocean: The Discovery and Exploration of the Deep Sea. Harvard University Press, 2005 (paperback edition in 2008).

The Machine in Neptune’s Garden: Historical Perspectives on Technology and the Marine Environment. Helen Rozwadowski and David van Keuren, eds. Canton, MA: Science History Publications/USA, 2004

The Sea Knows No Boundaries: A Century of Marine Science Under ICES. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press and International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, 2002

“Science, the Sea, and Marine Resource Management: A History of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea,” The Public Historian 26(1)(2004): 41-64 (joint volume with the American Society for Environmental History)

“Internationalism, Environmental Necessity, and National Interest: Marine Science and Other Turn-of-the-Twentieth-Century Sciences,” Minerva 42(2)(2004): 127-149

“Engineering, imagination, and industry: Scripps Island and dreams for ocean science in the 1960s,” in Rozwadowski and David van Keuren, eds., The Machine in Neptune’s Garden. Canton, MA: Science History Publications/USA, 2004, pp. 325-352

“Technology and Ocean-scape: Defining the deep sea in the mid nineteenth century,” History and Technology 17(2001): 217-247

“Small World: Forging a Scientific Maritime Culture,” Isis, 87(1996): 409-429

Helen Rozwadowski, professor of history, on Oct. 4, 2022. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
Contact Information
Mailing AddressUConn-Avery Point, 1084 Shennecossett Road, Groton CT 06340
Office LocationAcademic Building 101-D
CampusCampus: Avery Point
Office HoursSpring 2024: Tue 11:30-12:30, Thu 2:30-3:30pm, and by appointment
LinkMore of Dr. Rozwadowski's Work