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Sigrid Schmalzer

Professor of History

Portrait of Sigrid Schmalzer

(413) 545-6776

Personal Website

Herter Hall 631

Ph.D., University of California, San Diego (2004).

Professor Schmalzer received her Ph.D. in History and Science Studies in 2004 from the University of California, San Diego. Her research focuses on social, cultural, and political aspects of the history of science in modern China and also includes the history of science activism transnationally. She has published numerous academic books and articles, along with a children’s picture book based on her research. In addition, she was the lead organizer for a conference held at UMass 11-13 April 2014, "Science for the People: The 1970s and Today," which brought together students, scholars in Science and Technology Studies, and former members of the 1970s-1980s group Science for the People and is archived here: That conference helped inspire the revitalization of Science for the People (including the widely esteemed magazine), in which Professor Schmalzer now plays an active role.


Research Areas

History of Modern China
History of Science


Red Revolution, Green Revolution: Scientific Farming in Socialist China (University of Chicago Press, 2016). Winner of the 2018 Joseph Levenson Book Prize (for books on China, post-1900) from the Association for Asian Studies. Carla Nappi of the New Books Network interviewed Sigrid about this book. Listen to the podcast here.

The People's Peking Man: Popular Science and Human Identity in Twentieth-Century China (University of Chicago Press, 2008). Winner of the 2009 Allan Sharlin Award from the Social Science History Association.

Alyssa Botelho, Daniel S. Chard, and Sigrid Schmalzer, eds., Science for the People: Documents from America’s Movement of Radical Scientists, 1969-1989 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2018). Chad Valasek of the New Books Network interviewed Sigrid about this book. Listen to the podcast here.

James A. Cook, Joshua Goldstein, Matthew D. Johnson, and Sigrid Schmalzer, eds., Visualizing Modern China: Image, History, and Memory, 1750-Present (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2015), with accompanying website.

(children’s picture book) Moth and Wasp, Soil and Ocean: Remembering Chinese Scientist Pu Zhelong, illustrated by Melanie Linden Chan (Tilbury House, 2018). See also this related blog post: "Exposure Therapy: What I Learned Writing My First Book for Children." Teachers may appreciate this hour-long webinar (made available by the Five College Center for East Asian Studies), where Professor Schmalzer addresses the larger historical themes and offers a page-by-page discussion using Meghan Dowd Lambert's "whole book approach" to reading picture books. This Reader Guide offers discussion questions and activities for use in the classroom. Winner of the 2018 Freeman Book Award for children's literature on East and Southeast Asia; winner of the 2018 Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award; named a Notable Social Studies book for 2019 by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and the Children’s Book Council; and listed as a CCBC Choices 2019 book by the Cooperative Children's Book Center of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

For more publications, please see Professor Schmalzer’s personal website.

Courses Recently Taught

Science and Society in Modern China (undergraduate survey)

The Chinese Cultural Revolution (undergraduate seminar)

Twentieth-Century China (undergraduate lecture)

History of Radical Science (undergraduate seminar)

History Writing and Political Activism (undergraduate writing seminar)

History of Modern China (graduate seminar)