Michael Christopher Low, assistant professor of history, has been named a 2020 recipient of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) Dean’s Emerging Faculty Leaders award.
Funded by the generosity of LAS Dean’s Advisory Council members and friends of LAS, these awards support outstanding faculty who shape policy, define research directions for the nation, serve in prominent leadership positions and mentor the next generation of new talent. The awards fund resources not typically covered by research grants or other traditional funding.
Low’s research centers on the late Ottoman Empire, the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian Ocean world and environmental history. He has two books that will be published this October. He is the author of the forthcoming monograph “Imperial Mecca: Ottoman Arabia and the Indian Ocean Hajj,” due out Oct. 6 with Columbia University Press. He is also the co-editor of “The Subjects of Ottoman International Law,” which will be published Oct. 13 from Indiana University Press.
“I am deeply honored to have been recognized with this award,” Low said. “The support that I have received since joining the faculty at Iowa State has been overwhelming. This award will enable me to pursue my next book project on the enviro-technical histories of desalination, energy and climate change in the Arabian Peninsula and wider Middle East.”
Low is currently conducting research for the project as a Senior Humanities Research Fellow for the Study of the Arab World at NYU Abu Dhabi. During his 2020-21 residency, he plans to develop a new monograph project and several articles.
“The LAS Dean’s Emerging Leaders Award will allow me to make follow-up trips to the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia,” he said. “I am equally excited about the ability to continue to recruit and provide enhanced research and travel support to talented Ph.D. students working at the intersections of the environmental histories of the Ottoman Empire, the Middle East and the Indian Ocean.”
In 2018, Low helped raise Iowa State’s profile in the area of environmental history research when the university was named a partner institution in a prestigious international grant award.
This effort of more than 20 universities and centers across the globe examines how societies of the Indian Ocean world have adapted to natural disasters and environmental risk across time, from epidemic disease to climate change. Their project, “Appraising Risk, Past and Present: Interrogating Historical Data to Enhance Understanding of Environmental Crises in the Indian Ocean World,” received a seven-year, $2.5 million partnership grant from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).
Low manages Iowa State’s institutional contributions to the multi-year project and coordinates a related Ph.D. fellowship at Iowa State. As part of the research team, Low is studying how steamship mobility helped fuel the spread of cholera outbreaks during the late 19th century.
Low is also co-director of Iowa State’s new Middle Eastern studies minor, sits on the editorial boards of the Journal of Global History and the Journal of Tourism History and has made recent media appearances with CSPAN3 and Al Jazeera.