PPEH Welcomes New Scholars: Kristina Lyons and Ben Mendelsohn


PPEH welcomes two new scholars to our intellectual community at the University of Pennsylvania: Kristina Lyons (Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Humanities) and Ben Mendelsohn (2018-2019 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow). Each comes to the program with scholarly projects, excellence in teaching, innovative research approaches, and visions for public engagement.

Join us in welcoming them to PPEH!


Kristina Lyons

Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Humanities, University of Pennsylvania



Kristina Lyons has been working in the Colombian Amazon since 2005, and her research tracks human-soil relations across laboratories, greenhouses, gardens, forests and fields. She is interested in the ways practices with “soils” are deeply enmeshed in struggles between farmers, politicians, aid workers and scientists over the meanings of “peace”, “productivity”, “rural development”, “sustainability” and what constitutes a “good and healthy life” in a context of war bound up with the voracious power of capital. She attempts to engage in an ´ecopoetic´ writing practice from which to explore what limits and possibilities – alternative temporal registers, diverse economies, ethico-political arrangements and capacities for freedom – emerge along with different modes of relating, doing and knowing not only for the lives of soils, but for those who engage with soils as partners in-for life. She has a long term interest in creative writing and photography, and considers the work of theory in literary style, or more specifically how to make theory through poetic ethnography.

Her interests include: human-soil relations, science and technology studies, creative writing, ethnography and ecopoetics, Latin America.


Ben Mendelsohn

2018-2019 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow


Ben Mendelsohn recently completed his doctorate at New York University where his research focuses on urban infrastructure, landscape, and experimental documentary film. His dissertation builds on recent interest in the environment-as-media by investigating earth moving, land reclamation, and climate adaptation strategies in coastal cities throughout the world. The project also includes a series of short video essays tied to each research site. Mendelsohn's writing has appeared in Public Books and The Brooklyn Rail, and my video work has been featured by The AtlanticGizmodo, and Wiredamong others.