Pey-Yi Chu

Membership:  2016

Member Bio

Pey-Yi Chu is an historian of Russia and the Soviet Union. Her research aims to understand the environment and environmental change through the history of science and technology. She is interested in how nature and culture interact to shape perceptions of the environment and transform physical spaces. This focus has led her to explore such topics as the history of the earth sciences, science policy, the politics of expertise, and the transnational circulation of ideas. Other areas of interest include infrastructure, engineering, resource extraction, and economic development under colonialism and socialism. At the Rachel Carson Center, she is working to complete her first book, an intellectual history of permafrost that places the phenomenon in the political, social, and material contexts of Russian and Soviet science. Born in Taiwan and raised in the United States, Pey-Yi studied History at Stanford University (BA, 2003) and Princeton University (PhD, 2011), and held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. Currently, she is an assistant professor of History at Pomona College in Claremont, California.


  • Chu, Pey-Yi. “Mapping Permafrost Country: Creating an Environmental Object in the Soviet Union, 1920s–1940s.” Environmental History 20, no. 3 (July 2015): 396–421.
  • Chu, Pey-Yi. “Vladimir I. Vernadsky, The Biosphere (1926): Excerpts and Commentary.” In The Future of Nature: Documents of Global Change, edited by Libby Robin, Sverker Sörlin, and Paul Warde, 161–73. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013.