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Currently, I am a doctoral student in history at Yale, building on my MA work on coral reefs using environmental history, and the history and philosophy of science. For my MA work, I focused on the histories of coral reefs using many different kinds of coral research for a holistic historical understanding of the problem facing reefs today using work across scientific disciplines in the late 18th and 19th centuries.


My research pivots around the questions: how do we tell the story, or the elegy, of the dying reefs across the world; how they came to be, how we know what we know, and how knowledge production has historically spanned many scales—from the molecular and cellular to the oceanographic and geologic—to understand coral reefs the way we do in the present? As an interdisciplinary scholar, I use the tools of environmental history, history of science, philosophy, STS, and literary theory to understand the texture of historical narrative, oral histories, and histories of the present. Above all, my work seeks to understand the dynamics that erect barriers between the natural sciences and humanities, preventing a fuller reckoning of the past, present, and future of climate change.

My first doctorate was in developmental biology. My doctoral work in the Prince Lab at the University of Chicago focused on a highly migratory, multipotent cell population specific to vertebrate embryos: the Neural Crest. In particular, I found a mechanism to confer polarity and directionality to the neural crest, the behavior of which has been likened to metastatic cancer cells. I used embryology, genetics, molecular and cellular approaches in the zebrafish model system, as well as evolutionary biology, to ask specific questions about how vertebrate embryos are patterned. For more info, please visit the lab website. 

Peer-reviewed publications:

Ahsan, K. Constructing the Artificial/Natural Binary: Oil, Fishing & Artificial Reefs in the Gulf of Mexico (in preparation)


Rocha, M., Singh, S., Ahsan, K., Beiriger, A., Prince, V.E. Neural crest development: insights from the zebrafish (Review) Developmental Dynamics, Vol. 249, January 2020


Ahsan, K., Singh, N. Rocha, M., Huang, C., Prince, V.E. Prickle1 and migration of zebrafish cranial neural crest Developmental Biology, Vol. 448, 1 April 2019


Gallik, K.L., Treffy, R.W., Nacke, L.M., Ahsan, K., Rocha, M., Green-Saxena, A., Saxena, A., Neural crest and cancer: Divergent travelers on similar paths (Review) Mechanisms of Development, Vol. 148, December 2017

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