Short Bio

IMG_1015I research and write about the twentieth century United States in a global context with special emphases on human migration, science and technology, nationalism, popular culture, and public history. After growing up first in Tuscaloosa, AL, then in Frankfurt, Germany, I earned an M.A. degree at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt, Germany, and a Ph.D. at the University of Kansas—both in American Studies. Before returning to graduate school for the Ph.D., I spent eight years working in the Information Technology industry as a consultant, trainer, and customer liaison. In 2014, I moved back to Alabama to join the History Department at Auburn University, where I teach courses in the history of technology, immigration history, and the Cold War.


My first book, titled German Rocketeers in the Heart of Dixie: Making Sense of the Nazi Past during the Civil Rights Era (Yale University Press, 2015), is an interdisciplinary study based on oral histories and archival material about the immigration, integration, and memory of the German rocket experts associated with Wernher von Braun who were brought to the United States after World War II and later became famous for their contributions to NASA’s Apollo Program. You can watch a presentation of my research, read related blog posts here and here, or you can listen to a great podcast by the Southern Foodways Alliance, for which I was interviewed in 2016.

German Rocketeers in the Heart of Dixie won the 2015 Eugene M. Emme Astronautical Literature Award from the American Astronautical Society (AAS), the 2016 Gardner-Lasser Aerospace History Literature Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) as well as an honorable mention for the Deep South Book Prize of the Summersell Center for the Study of the South at the University of Alabama. I received funding for my scholarship from multiple prestigious entities, including two fellowships at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), and two fellowships funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)—one from the American Historical Association (AHA) and the other from the Society for History of Technology (SHOT).

PrintCurrently, I am working on a book manuscript, tentatively titled Brain Gain: Bringing Scientists and Engineers to the United States since World War II. It examines the developments that set the trajectory for policies concerning highly skilled migrants to the United States. A related chapter, “Setting the Stage to Bring in the Highly Skilled,” appeared in A Nation of Immigrants Reconsidered: US Society in an Age of Restriction, 1924-1965, edited by Maddalena Marinari, Madeline Hsu, and Maria Cristina Garcia (University of Illinois Press, 2019).



I can be contacted at: laney.monique(AT)gmail(DOT)com