William San Martín (He/Him/El) is an interdisciplinary scholar of earth-systems sciences and global environmental governance trained in history, international politics & relations, and science & technology studies (STS). His work focuses on international development; Latin America & the Global South; socio-environmental (in)justices; and science, technology & the human environment.
He is currently an Assistant Professor of Global Environmental Science, Technology, and Governance in the Department of Integrative and Global Studies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and a Research Fellow at the Earth Systems Governance Project at Utrecht University, The Netherlands.
William was born and raised in Chile's central valley, migrated to California for his Ph.D. at UC Davis, and currently lives and works in Massachusetts. He is an active public scholar and engage with international organizations and communities.
He is a former Fulbright Scholar (2011-2015); a Visiting Scholar and a Postdoctoral Associate jointly affiliated with the program of Science, Technology, and Society and the History Section at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2016-2018); and a Carson Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany (2021).
William's main research focuses on global nitrogen governance with particular attention to issues of expertise, sustainable development policy, and inequalities in the Global South. His research asks questions about the imbalances of knowledge, agencies, and power in the governance of earth-human interactions. He examines the unequal place of expert communities, science-policy interface frameworks, and research and governmental institutions in the governance of biogeochemical processes on earth—as processes linked to lasting issues of (under)development and colonialism.
He has vast experience in policy-oriented research and building collaborations with international organizations and communities. Across academic projects and institutional collaborations, William is interested in the multiple forms issues of rights, justice, and democracy take in the formation of global environmental issues. Before focusing his attention on contemporary environmental issues, William worked on questions regarding race equity, slavery, legal systems, and state formation in the 18th and 19th centuries across the North Atlantic and the Americas. Today, he integrates many of the discussions from colonial, postcolonial and development studies, critical race theory, history and sociology of state formation, and the social history of law and policy into his teaching and scholarship. In doing so, he aims to highlight areas that tend to be overlooked in modern scholarly and public environmental governance debates, such as political economy, inequalities, violence, and colonialism.
William is co-editor, along with Emily O'Gorman, Mark Carey, and Sandra Swart, of the Routledge Handbook of Environmental History, and author of various peer-reviewed articles and book chapters published in fields including history of science and technology, political ecology, environmental studies, sustainable development, and Latin American studies. He currently curates the collections "Technology and Expertise" and "Histories across Species" for Arcadia, the online, peer-reviewed journal of the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society.
He is a contributing author to the International Nitrogen Assessment (INA), the first global assessment addressing issues at the intersection of nitrogen science, management, and governance. Set for publication in 2023, INA is a major output from the International Nitrogen Management System Project (INMS), implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme with support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). William is also a Steering Council Member for the North American Chapter of the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI). INI is an international program sponsored by the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP) aiming to produce scientific advice to minimize nitrogen’s harmful effects on human health and the environment resulting from food and energy production.
William is currently a Co-PI of the NSF's Using the Rules of Life to Address Societal Challenges Grant: Co-Producing Knowledge, Biotechnologies and Practices to Enhance Biological Nitrogen Fixation for Sustainable Agriculture ($2.67 million, Georgia Tech and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Award 2319430). Working with small-scale farmers, agricultural extensionists, and scientists in Chile, the project uses participatory research-action methodologies and scrutinizes co-production methods and strategies within North-South cooperation to enhance agroecological knowledges, practices, and technologies, reducing dependency on synthetic fertilizers, and informing critical debates in agricultural development and sustainability.