skip to primary navigation skip to content

Anna Guasco, BA, MSc

PhD student

Interdisciplinary researcher working across environmental history, cultural and historical geographies, environmental justice, blue humanities, conservation social science, and political ecology.



  • 2019 – present: PhD Student, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2016 – 2017: MSc Student, School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh
  • 2012 – 2016: National Park Ranger, Interpretation and Education, Channel Islands National Park
  • 2015 – 2016: Public Scholarship and Academic Civic Engagement Fellow, Center for Civic and Community Engagement, Carleton College
  • 2015: Environmental Justice Research Intern, Office of Mayor Pro Tem Carmen Ramírez, City of Oxnard


  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, accredited 2022
  • MSc in Environment, Culture and Society, with distinction, University of Edinburgh, 2017
  • BA in American Studies, summa cum laude, Carleton College, 2016

Awards and scholarships

  • Gates Cambridge Scholarship, University of Cambridge, 2019
  • Ocean Discovery Fellow, National Forums on Ocean Exploration, 2018
  • Best Overall Contribution to the Programme, University of Edinburgh, 2017
  • Avangrid Foundation Scholarship for Energy and Environment Postgraduate Studies, University of Edinburgh, 2016
  • Departmental distinction for degree and senior thesis, Carleton College, 2016
  • Noyes Prize (for academic achievement), Carleton College, 2016
  • Phi Beta Kappa, junior induction, Carleton College, 2015
  • Class of 1966 Diversity of Achievement Award, Carleton College, 2015
  • Honors in Independent Study, Carleton College, 2015


Dissertation: Narrating Cetacean Conservation: Gray Whale Migration, Histories, and Justice on the North American Pacific Coast

My dissertation examines histories, narratives, and justice issues surrounding the migration and conservation of the Eastern North Pacific (ENP) gray whale along the North American Pacific Coast. I analyse how the transnational, oceanic migration of ENP gray whales generates particular narratives. By examining narratives constructed about – and with – gray whales, I bring together issues of animals’ historical geographies, storytelling ethics, various forms of environmental justice, ocean history, and ecological memory and futures. My approach is interdisciplinary, drawing on historical, cultural, and more-than-human geographies; environmental history; political ecology; environmental justice; narrative theory and ecocriticism; and history of science. My guiding question is: How are gray whale histories and contemporary encounters narrated in different places along the whale’s migration and at different points in time, and what are the ramifications of these narratives? I analyse how human-gray whale relationships have developed over time and to assess how gray whale histories, contemporary encounters, and conservation and scientific research issues are narrated throughout the interconnected geographies of the whales’ migration. I further aim to assess whether and how these processes of memory, narration, and biocultural historical inheritance have consequences for various forms of justice.

Broader research interests include: conservation, environmental history, environmental justice, more-than-human geographies, history of science, museums, narratives and storytelling, ocean history, the North American West Coast, political ecology, disability, ethics, community/public engagement.


Peer-reviewed publications

Public scholarship & other academic writing

Selected presentations, invited talks, and roundtable participation

  • ‘From Devil-Fish to Friendly Whale? Historical and Contemporary Human Encounters with Gray Whales Near the California Coast and Islands’. California Islands Symposium (November 2023)
  • ‘Sustaining the Pacific Coast Feeding Group: Histories of Gray Whale Genetics, Politics, and Territory in the Pacific Northwest’. American Society for Environmental History Conference (March 2023)
  • ‘Political Ecologies of Whale Biology’. Political Ecology Reading Group. University of Cambridge (March 2023)
  • ‘As Dead as a Dodo: Extinction Narratives and Justice in the Museum’. Society for the Protection of Natural History Conference (June 2022)
  • ‘Whale-Watching in the Archives: Methodological Experimentation for More-than-Human Histories’. Cabinet of Natural History Series. Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge (May 2022)
  • ‘Problems of Place: A Conversation on Community, Connection, and Belonging’. Environmental History Week, American Society for Environmental History (April 2022)
  • ‘Fish Stories and Whale Tales: Memory and Narrative in Gray Whale Archives’. Oceanic and Maritime History Workshop. Faculty of History, University of Cambridge (November 2021)
  • ‘Mexican By Birth, Californian By Name, Pacific North-western By Residence: Tracking Gray Whales’. Royal Geographical Society Conference (September 2021)
  • ‘Narrating Embodied Environmental Histories Through Indicator Archives’. with D. Borden. Animal History Group: Animal Archives Conference (July 2021)
  • ‘Encountering Digital Whales: Affect, Spectacle, and the Mundane in Cetacean Geographies’. Digital Ecologies Conference (March 2021)
  • ‘Terraqueous Border-‘lands’: Grey Whale Migration Along the North American Pacific Coast’. British Animal Studies Network Meeting: Animal Borderlands (September 2020)
  • ‘Access and Accessibility in National Parks’. Channel Islands National Park (May, June 2019)
  • ‘Oceans and Access’. In: ‘Lightning Talks’. National Ocean Exploration Forum, M.I.T. Media Lab (November 2018)
  • ‘From Devil Fish to Friendly Leviathan: Guilty Wildlife Histories and American Gray Whale Ecotourism in Baja’. Cultural Studies Association Conference, Villanova University (June 2016)
  • ‘Anacapa and the American Sublime: Perceptions and Representations in Channel Islands National Park’. Centennial ‘From Shore to Sea’ Lecture Series (2016) and Invited Special Lecture (2014), Channel Islands National Park (April 2016; December 2014)

Workshops and panels convened

  • ‘Animal Mobilities: Reconsidering Animal Geography and Mobility Studies’, Royal Geographical Society Conference. Session Convenor [co-sponsored by the Postgraduate Forum and Social and Cultural Geography Research Group] (September 2021)
  • ‘Vital Geographies: Tracks, Traces, & Threads’, Vital Geographies. Workshop Co-Convenor (February 2021)
  • ‘Archives & Archival Methods’, ‘Conducting Fieldwork Remotely’ Series, Department of Geography. Workshop Convenor (July 2020)
  • ‘More-than-Human Archives’, Vital Geographies. Workshop Convenor (February 2020)


  • Contributing Lecturer, MPhil Anthropocene Studies (‘Extinction Narratives’) (2020, 2021)
  • Contributing Lecturer, Part II, Political Appetites: Geographies of Food and Power (‘Harvesting the Ocean’) (2021, 2022)
  • Seminar Leader, MPhil Anthropocene Studies (‘Oceanic Anthropocenes’) (2022)
  • Supervisor, Part IA, Society, Environment and Sustainable Development (2020-2022)
  • Supervisor, Part IB, Inequality (2021)
  • Supervisor, Part II, Geographies of Postcolonialism and Decoloniality (2021)
  • Supervisor, Part II, Political Appetites: Geographies of Food and Power (2021)
  • Supervisor, Part II, Political Ecology in the Global South (2021-2022)

External activities

  • Vital Geographies research group (2019-present; student co-convenor: 2021-2022)
  • Political Ecology, Decolonial Research Lab, & Polar Humanities and Social Science, reading groups/workshops (2019-present)
  • Teaching Associates Programme, Centre for Teaching and Learning (2021-2022)
  • Editor, Environmental History Now (2022-present)
  • Gates Teach-a-Thon Co-Organiser (2021-2022)
  • Learning for Purpose Co-Director, Gates Cambridge Learning for Purpose Programme (2019 – 2020)