Centre for World Environmental History

Simon Pooley


Dr Simon Preston Pooley
D.Phil., University of Oxford; MA, first class, Birkbeck College, University of London; MA, University of Cape Town; BA (Hons) cum laude, University of Natal.

Present Position: Junior Research Fellow, Imperial College London, based at Imperial College Conservation Science

Contact: s.pooley@imperial.ac.uk

Research interests

Social and ecological dimensions of environmental change; environmental history; crocodilian conservation; history of wildfire and research and management of fire (particularly in South Africa); history and philosophy of science particularly life sciences and ecology; history of environmentalism; biodiversity and conservation; invasion biology; scientific expertise and indigenous knowledge; global and imperial history; commonwealth and imperial networks; land management traditions and institutions (forestry, conservation, agriculture).


Junior Research Fellow, Imperial College London (2012-2015); AHRC Research Fellow, Imperial College London; Junior Research Fellow, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford (2010-2012); D.Phil., History, University of Oxford, 2006-2010; MA, History of Science, Medicine & Society, Birkbeck College, 2003-2005; Managing Editor and Publishing Manager, New Holland Publishers, London, 2001-2006; Editor, Managing Editor, Commissioning Editor, Struik Publishers, Cape Town, 1997-2001; Magazine Editor & Freelance Journalist, Cape Town, 1996-97; Assistant Magazine Editor, London, 1995-96; MA, English Literature, and Tutor, University of Cape Town, 1992-1994; BA (Hons) first class, and Research Assistant, University of Natal, 1988-1991; Research Assistant, Natal Flora Trust, 1990-91.

Academic awards and grants

Junior Research Fellowship, Imperial College London (2012-2015); AHRC research fellowship (with Dr Andrew Mendelsohn and Prof. E.J. Milner-Gulland), 2012; Junior Research Fellowship, St Antony’s College Oxford (2010-2012); Proxime accessit award, Beit Research Scholarship competition, University of Oxford (2009); AHRC doctoral funding (2007-2009); Travel grant, St Antony's College, University of Oxford (2009); Travel grant, Royal Historical Society (2009); Beit Fund travel grants (2007/2008 and 2006/2007); Centre for Science and Development MA funding (1992-93); Human Sciences Research Council funding (1989-91).



W. Beinart, K. Middleton, S. Pooley (ed.s), Wild Things: Nature and the Social Imagination (White Horse Press, 2013).


S. Pooley, ‘Invasion of the Crocodiles,’ in Iain McCalman, Jodi Frawley (eds.) Rethinking Invasion Ecologies from the Environmental Humanities (Routledge Environmental Humanities, March 2014).

S. Pooley, ‘No Tears for the Crocodiles: Representations of Nile Crocodiles, and the Extermination Furore in Zululand, South Africa, from 1956–8’, book chapter in W. Beinart, K. Middleton, S. Pooley (ed.s), Wild Things: Nature and the Social Imagination (White Horse Press, 2013).

W. Beinart, K. Middleton, S. Pooley, ‘Introduction’ to Wild Things: Nature and the Social Imagination.

S. Pooley, ‘Fire and Loathing in the Fynbos’, book chapter in I.D. Rotherham, R.A. Lambert (ed.s), Invasive and Introduced Plants and Animals: Human Perceptions, Attitudes and Approaches to Management (Earthscan, 2011).

S. Pooley, ‘Histories of fire in South Africa’s Cape Floral Region’, in S. Mosley, G. Massard-Guilbaud (ed.s), Common Ground, Integrating the Social and Environmental in History(Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011).

S. Pooley, J.A. Mendelssohn, E.J. Milner-Gulland, 'Hunting down the chimera of multiple disciplinarity in conservation science', Conservation Biology (in press), available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.12183/pdf

S. Pooley, ‘Historians are from Venus, Ecologists are from Mars,’ a commentary on Szabó and Hédl’s paper (2011) ‘Advancing the Integration of History and Ecology for Conservation,’ Conservation Biology 27: 6 (2013), available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.12106/full

S. Pooley, ‘Recovering the lost history of fire in South Africa’s fynbos, c.1910-90’, Environmental History, Vol.17 (January 2012), pp.55-83. DOI:10.1080/03057070.2010.507565

S. Pooley, Book review of Stephen Pyne’s ‘America’s Fires: A Historical Context for Policy and Practice, Environment and History,’ Environment and History, Vol.17, No.3 (2012), pp.483–485.

S. Pooley, ‘Pressed Flowers: Notions of indigenous and alien vegetation in South Africa’s Western Cape, c.1902–1945’,Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol.36, No.3 (2010), pp.599–618. This paper was selected for the inaugural ASAUK Journal Writing Workshop (2009).DOI:10.1080/03057070.2010.507565
S. Pooley, ‘Jan van Riebeeck as pioneering explorer and conservator of natural resources at the Cape of Good Hope (1652–62)’, Environment and History, Vol.15, No.1 (2009), pp.3–33. 

S. Pooley, Book review of Saul Dubow’s A Commonwealth of Knowledge: Science, Sensibility and White South Africa 1820–2000, British Journal for the History of Science, Vol.42, No.1 (2009), pp.152–154.

S. Pooley, Book review of Saul Dubow’s A Commonwealth of Knowledge, Social Dynamics, Vol.35, No.1 (2009), pp.205–210.

Affiliations and memberships

Imperial College Conservation Science
Grand Challenges in Ecosystems and the Environment Initiative
European Society for Environmental History
Centre for World Environmental History

Conferences and Professional Services

I have peer-reviewed articles for Environment & History, Journal of Contemporary History, the Journal of Eastern African Studies, Journal of Southern African Studies, South African Journal of History, and book manuscripts for Cambridge University Press and White Horse Press, publishers of Environment & History. I have reviewed books for Environmental History, British Journal for the History of Science, and Social Dynamics.

I organised panels for the first (Copenhagen) and second (Guimarães) World Conferences on Environmental History.

I co-organised the 2009 Annual meeting of the European Association for Environmental History UK Branch, with the European Society for Environmental History, held at St Antony’s College, Oxford (with Karen Brown), and the 2011 conference for these societies (with Karen Middleton), entitled Wild Things: Nature and the Social Imagination.
I have participated in some of the scoping meetings for the AHRC-funded network Collaborative research on the meteorological and botanical history of the Indian Ocean, 1600-1900.

Editorial Boards

Routledge Environmental Humanities