Brian Freer

Visiting Scholar

Research Affiliate, Department of Nuclear Engineering
North Carolina State University
CSTMS Research Unit: Berkeley Program in Science and Technology Studies, Office for the History of Science and Technology, CSTMS
Affiliation period: April 2021 -
Degrees Postdoctoral Research :: University of Washington (2015-2018)
PhD Industrial Archaeology :: York University (2010)

Research Areas

Environmental History
Engineering History
Intergenerational Equity
Occupational Epidemiology

Brian Freer’s research seeks to better understand environmental legacies of highly contaminated industrial sites from engineering, occupational health, ecological and temporal perspectives. He conducted graduate research at the Hanford Site in southeast Washington State where 60% of the plutonium for the US nuclear arsenal was manufactured—along with 60% of the nuclear and chemical wastes currently managed by the US Department of Energy. Brian’s current research interests involve questions concerning the possibilities and constraints of transmitting information about contaminated sites into the long range future. Specifically, because plutonium–239 has a half-life of 24,100 years, his work asks if there may be an ethics of responsibility that the production of plutonium places on current generations to communicate with future generations. In particular, his research explores limits to our understanding of how hazards posed by past operations may pose dangers to the future. Relatedly, his work asks the question: do humans have capacities to adapt to plutonium? Future Remains, his book in development with co-author Professor Katja Neves (Concordia University, Montreal) explores these themes.

last updated: October 7th, 2021