Photo by Mark Lacy
ESTHER FARFEL AWARD
THE PERFECT SETTING FOR MELOSI’S RESEARCH
When Martin Melosi steps into the classroom, he’s reminded
why he’s remained at the University of Houston for 20 years.
“The students at this university are very engaged,”
said Melosi, a UH distinguished professor of history and recipient
of this year’s Esther Farfel Award — the highest honor
accorded to a University faculty member. “I find myself learning
as much from them as they probably learn from me.”
Aside from enjoying the stimulating classroom dialogue, Melosi admits
that UH and the city of Houston make an ideal home for his academic
interests, which include urban and environmental history and the
history of technology.
Considering the university’s urban setting and Houston’s
complex social and industrial landscape, Melosi said he has a perfect
laboratory for his research.
“Being in an urban campus in a major city is crucial,”
he said. “Houston is conducive to my work. I find that national
urban and international urban trends are connected to the practical
issues here in Houston.”
Melosi has authored 10 books, including “Garbage in the Cities:
Refuse, Reform and the Environment,” “Public History
and the Environment” and the award-winning “The Sanitary
City: Urban Infrastructure in America from Colonial Times to the
His next book will center on the environmental history of Houston
and will be co-authored by Joseph Pratt, Cullen Professor of Business
In addition to his regular classroom activity, writing and research,
Melosi has served as the director of graduate studies in the Department
of History and will be chair of UH’s Research Council during
the 2005 – 2006 academic year. He is also the director of
UH’s Tenneco Distinguished Lecture Series.
“The Department of History values the many different activities
he performs, the dedication he brings to this institution and ideas
and advice he often imparts,” wrote Susan Kellogg, chair of
the department of history and associate professor of history in
her letter nominating Melosi for the Farfel Award.
The award includes a trophy and $10,000 cash prize that is provided
through an endowment established by the late Aaron Farfel, former
UH System Board of Regents Chair, in honor of his wife Esther.
Despite the high praise from colleagues, Melosi said that they
are the ones who should be commended. Along with his students, his
fellow faculty members also motivate him to strive for academic
“Since arriving at UH, the Department of History has been
a congenial place to work,” Melosi said. “Teaching and
research are celebrated and encouraged. That’s important to
Staff writer Mike Emery