John McNeill studied at Swarthmore College and Duke University, where he completed his PhD in 1981. Since 1985, he has taught at Georgetown University, where he held the Cinco Hermanos Chair in Environmental and International Affairs before becoming a university professor in 2006. His research interests lie in the environmental history of the Mediterranean world, the tropical Atlantic world, and Pacific islands. He has held two Fulbright awards, a Guggenheim fellowship, a MacArthur grant, a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson Center, and a visiting appointment at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. He has published more than fifty scholarly articles in professional and scientific journals.
His books are The Atlantic Empires of France and Spain, 1700-1765 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985); The Mountains of the Mediterranean World (New York: Cambridge University Press); Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World (New York: Norton, 2000), co-winner of the World History Association book prize, the Forest History Society book prize, and runner-up for the BP Natural World book prize, and translated into eight languages; The Human Web: A Bird’s-eye View of World History (New York: Norton, 2003), co-authored with his father William H. McNeill; and most recently, Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620-1914 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), which won the Beveridge Prize from the American Historical Association. He also edited or co-edited seven more books. In 2010, he was awarded the Toynbee Prize for “academic and public contributions to humanity.” In 2011, he became president of the American Society for Environmental History.