William San Martín is a historian of Latin America and Inter-American relations. He specializes in the History of Science and Technology, Environmental Change and Policy, and Latin America in a global context. He graduated from Universidad Católica de Chile and completed his Ph.D. at the University of California Davis in 2017. He is currently a Postdoctoral Associate in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society and the History Section at MIT. His research examines the history of the science-policy interface to inform contemporary debates on environmental sustainability and public policy.
His book manuscript, Nitrogen Revolutions: Agricultural Expertise, Technology, and Policy in Cold War Chile, studies the process of agro-technological change that led to Chile's expansion of nitrogen fertilizer consumption and triggered a cascade of ecological effects at a local and regional scale. Using the global problem of nitrogen pollution and Chile—one of the highest consumers of nitrogen fertilizer in the Americas—as case studies, Nitrogen Revolutions argues that historical expertise is critical today in both academic and public debates on agricultural change, food security, and environmental protection.
His work has been supported by the Fulbright Commission, Chile’s National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research, the UC Davis Division of Social Sciences, and the Max Planck Institute for Legal History. He has taught courses on the social, cultural, and political history of Colonial and Modern Latin America. At MIT, he is teaching “Latin America: Revolution, Democracy, and Dictatorship" (21H.171) in Fall 2017, and "Energy, Environment, and Society. Special Theme: The Water-Energy-Food Crises" (STS.032) in Spring 2018.
In addition to working on agriculture and environmental change, Dr. San Martín has also participated in interdisciplinary teams addressing the socio-ecological effects of free-ranging dogs and their challenges for public policy. He recently co-founded ConScientiaGroup, an international non-profit organization focused on the science-policy interface in environmental and animal welfare issues in Chile (www.conscientiagroup.org/english).