Ryan graduated with a BA in German history from Walla Walla College (Washington State, USA) in 1998, before sojourning in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Kamchatka to learn Russian and witness the chaos of the Yeltsin years. He returned to the United States and completed his PhD in global history at Columbia University in 2008. Ryan’s book, Empire of Extinction: Russians and the North Pacific’s Strange Beasts of the Sea, 1741–1867 (Oxford, 2014), examined the interrelationships of early modern empire and ecological change, and detailed the history of the first known anthropogenic extinction, the death of the last Steller’s sea cow in 1768. His research awoke an interest in the Pacific and the ocean, and took him to the University of Auckland for several years, where he taught Pacific and environmental history. Ryan began research on the Pacific and global history of whaling, working with marine biologists and policymakers and putting together several public events on the topic; he also started research on his current book: a global environmental history of Russian and Soviet whaling. He now teaches at the University of Oregon in the United States.