Skip to main content

Faculty and Staff

Martin Melosi
Cullen Professor Emeritus

Martin Melosi

Dr. Melosi is internationally known in the areas of Environmental, Energy, and Urban History. Melosi is Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen University Professor and Director of the Center for Public History at the University of Houston. In 2000-01, he held the Fulbright Chair in American Studies at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, and in 2007 was Fulbright Senior Specialist in Environmental Science at Tampere University of Technology in Tampere, Finland. He also has been a visiting professor at the University of Paris, the University of Helsinki, Peking University, Shanghai University, Leopold-Maximillians Universitat, Munich, and the International Institute of Management, Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, Paris. He has a Ph.D. in History from the University of Texas at Austin and a B.A. and M.A. in History from the University of Montana.

In 2009, Melosi received the Distinguished Service Award from the American Society for Environmental History. He also received the Esther Farfel Award in 2005, the highest honor accorded to a University of Houston faculty member. The Farfel Award, a symbol of career excellence, is based on three criteria: the significance and international impact of the candidate’s research; his or her outstanding teaching ability; and his or her exemplary service to the University, the profession, and the community.

Dr. Melosi is the general editor for the History of the Urban Environments Series of the University of Pittsburgh Press (with Joel A. Tarr of Carnegie- Mellon University), served on the Scientific Committee for Postgraduate Studies on Urbanism at the University of Geneva, and has been president of the American Society for Environmental History, the National Council on Public History, the Public Works Historical Society, and the Urban History Association. In the Department of History, he has been the director of graduate studies and has served on the executive and graduate committees. In 2005-06, he was chair of the University Research Council.


Dr. Melosi taught a variety of research classes in the fields of environmental history, energy history, public history, history of technology, film history, and American urban history. One of his strengths as an instructor is his ability to communicate his knowledge effectively to his students while encouraging them to use critical thinking when analyzing complex historical events. Melosi has directed numerous theses and dissertations.

back to top

Research Interests

Professor Melosi has written or edited nineteenth books and written more than ninety-five proceedings, articles, and book chapters. His areas of research interest include urban environmental history, city services and urban technology, environmental racism, environmental politics, and energy history. His published work covers these areas as well as topics in American diplomatic history, public history, and the history of technology. For example, the multiple-award-winning The Sanitary City (Johns Hopkins, 2000) traced the development of water supply, wastewater, and solid waste systems in the United States from colonial times to the present. He recently completed a book entitled Atomic Age America (Pearson, 2013) and co-edited two books on Energy Capitals (with Joseph Pratt and Kathleen Brosnan, Pittsburgh, 2013) and New World Cities (with John Tutino). He also is conducting research on a book tentatively entitled An Island Not So Far: Staten Island, New Yorkers, and Fresh Kills. He also is active in legal litigation as an expert witness.

back to top

Selected Publications

  • Atomic Age America. Pearson, 2013.

  • The Sanitary City: Urban Infrastructure in America from Colonial Times to the Present. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000. Winner of the George Perkins Marsh Prize, American Society for Environmental History, for the best book in environmental history (2000); winner of the Abel Wolman Prize, Public Works Historical Society for the best book in public works history (2001); winner of the Urban History Association Prize for the best book in North American Urban History (2001); and winner of the Sidney Edelstein Prize, Society for the History of Technology, for an outstanding scholarly book in the history of technology (1999-2001).

  • Precious Commodity: Providing Water for America’s Cities (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011).

  • Energy Metropolis: An Environmental History of Houston and the Gulf Coast (with Joseph Pratt) (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007).

  • The Sanitary City: Environmental Service in Urban America from Colonial Times to the Present, Abridged Edition (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008).

  • The History of Large Federal Dams: Planning, Design, and Construction (with David P. Billington and Donald C. Jackson) (Denver, CO: U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, 2005).

  • Garbage in the Cities: Refuse, Reform and the Environment. Rev,ed. (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005).

  • Effluent America: Cities, Industry, Energy, and the Environment (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001).

  • Public History and the Environment, (co-author with Philip Scarpino). (Krieger Publishers, 2004).

  • Urban Public Policy: Historical Modes and Methods (Penn State Press, 1993) (Editor and contributor).

back to top