I am Professor and Chair of the Department of History, Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, and Chair of the University Committee at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. My research focuses on the history of ideas about animals. I am the author of Savages and Beasts: The Birth of the Modern Zoo (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), a study of the origins of naturalistic displays in zoological gardens, and the editor of the collection Representing Animals (Indiana University Press, 2002). I am the General Editor of the book series Animalibus: Of Animals and Cultures for Penn State University Press. Nineteen volumes have appeared in the series since 2012. In 2015, Elephant House, a collaboration with the photographer Dick Blau, appeared in the Animalibus series.
In the fall of 2021, Johns Hopkins will publish my new book, Elephant Trails: A History of Animals and Cultures. The book traces a history of elephant-human interaction and argues that since prehistoric times, elephants have been part of how we make sense of our world and our lives.