Alumni (National Fellow)

Leif Fredrickson

National Fellow
B.A. Vassar College (2000)
M.A. University of Montana (2011)
Ph.D. University of Virginia (2017)
Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
Dream Mentor:
Nathan Connolly
Johns Hopkins University
Fields of Interest:
Environmental Policy
Public Health
Urban History


Leif Fredrickson completed a Digital Humanities Research Fellowship at the Scholar’s Lab, the University of Virginia in 2017. Leif is a writer and research associate with the Environmental Data and Governance initiative. Most recently, Fredrickson was awarded the Michael Katz Award for Best Dissertation in Urban History completed in 2017 (no geographic restriction) - awarded at the recent Urban History Conference in Columbia, SC on October 18-21, 2018. Fredrickson is also the recipient of the ProQuest/Council of Graduate Schools Award for distinguished dissertation in the Humanities and Fine Arts from 2015 to 2017. Fredrickson has published his academic research in the journals The American Journal of Public Health, Global Environment, Environment and History and the edited book collection Green Capitalism: Business and the Environment in the Twentieth Century. He has written for the public in The Washington Post, The Guardian, and The Conversation, among other places. Fredrickson was named the 2016-17 Ambrose Monell Foundation Funded Fellow in Technology and Democracy at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center for Public Affairs.

Thesis Description:

The Age of Lead: Metropolitan Development, Environmental Health, and Inner City Underdevelopment
Leif Fredrickson’s dissertation, “The Age of Lead: Metropolitan Development, Environmental Health, and Inner City Underdevelopment,” seeks to answer two questions. First, how did twentieth-century metropolitan development affect lead exposure? To answer this, Fredrickson examines how policies and markets came together to affect energy, housing, and transportation infrastructures that led to increased and often disproportionate exposure from lead in sources such as paint, gasoline and batteries. His second question is: How did lead exposure affect individuals, communities and governments in the metropolis? To answer this, Fredrickson examines how lead affected education, income, medical expenses and other social outcomes for individuals, and how those effects in turn shaped the outcomes of families and communities. He argues that these effects contributed to the long-term inequalities we see across classes, races, and metropolitan areas (i.e., the suburbs and the inner city). Fredrickson also looks at how victims and their families and communities dealt with these problems, proactively and retroactively. Finally, Fredrickson examines how the ramifying effects of lead challenged local governments, who faced expensive measures to eradicate lead poisoning but also expensive costs from failing to eradicate lead problems.

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