Ashton Wesner

Visting Lecturer


I am a Lecturer of Science & Technology Studies/History of Science in the Department of History at UC Berkeley, as well as Research Fellow at the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine & Society. My research and writing intersects the fields of critical environmental history, political ecology, feminist and indigenous science and technology studies, settler colonial studies, and cultural geography. I combine frameworks and methods from these fields to examine articulations of nature, culture, and power to better understand how ongoing US settler colonialism and imperial expansion structure both bioscientific knowledge production and environmentalist practices.

My current project, Routing the Scenic: technologies of occupation and environmental culture in the Columbia River Gorge, examines the historical legacy and quotidian production of US settler colonial violence through scientific practices. In this project, I historicize the contested 1986 passage of the bi-state environmental governance plan—the National Scenic Area Act (NSAA)—within the context of Indigenous dispossession throughout the Columbia River Basin from the early 1830s to present. Scenery, I show, has been operationalized in imperial expansion through the Gorge and has shaped the calculation of how colonial conservation unfolds. I argue that settler colonialist visions of the Gorge, from railroad brochures, to sonar surveys, to drone footage, constitute progressive environmental politics and planning initiatives and continue to dispossess Columbia River Treaty Tribes. Based on over fourteen months of multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork and archival research, my analyses shed light on the layered, but often mundane, infrastructures of violence in river basins while I also foreground the possibilities for anti-colonial spatial practices.

​Two additional projects inform my scholarship and teaching. Both are collaborative. One is primarily ethnographic, and examines the production of queer ecologies with a lab of arachnologists who study jumping spider mating behavior (the Elias Lab, here at UC Berkeley). The second is pedagogical, and evaluates community-engaged (CE) STEM programs in academe and develops curriculum for teaching socially-situated sciences. As a teacher, I build on a foundation of feminist pedagogy and commitment to social justice oriented learning in and beyond the university in classes like “Engineering, Society, and Environment,” “Biology, Ecology, and the Making of US Imperialism,” and “Environments, Animals, and Militarism.”

I earned my PhD at the University of California, Berkeley in Society & Environment. I hold a BA in Environmental Studies: Race, Class, and Gender from Pomona College. ​My work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, UC Berkeley Fellowship for Graduate Study, Center for Latin American Studies, Center for Race and Gender, Social Science Matrix and Tanada Endowed Fellowship in Entomology. I am lead research of the Queer Ecologies | Feminist Biologies collaborative and an active member of the Left Coast Political Ecology Network.

 Pronouns: She/Her/Hers


PhD, Society & Environment, University of California, Berkeley.

BA, Environmental Analysis: Race, Class, & Gender, Pomona College.

Research Interests

  • Feminist evolutionary biology/behavioral ecology
  • US settler colonialism in the Pacific Northwest
  • Militarized landscapes
  • Visuality and visual technologies
  • Environmental(ist) politics and discourse 


Wesner, A. (2019). Messing Up Mating: Queer Feminist Engagements with Animal Behavior Sciences, Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 48(3), 309-345.

Wesner, A., Moore S., Martin J., Kirk G., Dev L. (2019). Left Coast Political Ecology: a manifesto, Journal of Political Ecology, 6(1), 529-544.

Kamath, A., Wesner, A. (Under revision). Animal Territoriality, Property, and Access: A Collaborative Exchange Between Behavioural Ecology and the Social Science. Animal Behaviour.  

Wesner, A. (2018). Contested Sonic Space: Settler Territoriality and Sonographic Visualization at Celilo Falls, Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience, 4(2), 1-34.  

Andrade, K., Cushing, L., and Wesner, A. (2018). Science Shops and the U.S. Research University: A Path for Community Engaged Scholarship and Disruption of the Power Dynamics of Knowledge Production. In Mitchell, T., Soria, K. (Eds.) Educating for Citizenship and Social Justice, 145-169. Palgrave MacMillan.

Cushing, L., Wesner, A., and K. Kadir.(Under revision). Educating Socially Responsible Engineers Through Critical, Community-Engaged Pedagogy, Journal of Engineering Education.

Baur, P., Corbin, C.N.E., Goreki, J., Roberts-Gregory, F., Wesner, A., and anonymous contributors. (2017). The Right to Protest Violence, The Berkeley Graduate, 3rd March.

Corbin, C.N.E., Douglass-Jaimes, G., Williamson, J., Wesner, A., Higgins, M.,Palomino, J. and contributors Packer, M., and Roberts-Gregory, F. (2015). (Re)Thinking the Tenure Process by Embracing Diversity in Scholars and Scholarship, UCSA Graduate Student Policy Journal, 1(1), 4-9. *Winner of Article of Distinction Award

Wesner, A., Pyatt, J., and Corbin, C.N.E. (2014). Main Article: The Practical Realities of Giving Back, Journal of Research Practice, 10(2).  

Ashton Wesner

Curriculum Vitae