Nathaniel Ray Pickett, PhD
Department of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Kansas

biographical information

I am originally from Southern California, though I have spent considerable time living in the Kansas City area, the Minneapolis-St Paul area, Utah, and in various cities in Ukraine. I recieved my bachelor's degree in history from Brigham Young University in 2009, after which I spent a year as a psychiatric technician at Utah State Hospital. I recieved my M.A. degree in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies from the University of Kansas in 2012, with a focus on Ukrainian Studies. After my master's program I moved into the geography PhD program at KU, where completed a dissertation involving the application of Science and Technology Studies in a political geography study of the political and social effects of the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear disaster on Ukraine. In 2015-16 I was in Ukraine on a research Fulbright to gather data. I received a graduate certificate in GIS in 2019 and my doctorate in geography in 2022.

My academic interests generally fall within political geography, including popular geopolitics, border issues, labor organizations, and anti-capitalist systems. I am also interested in STS, using new media in research, critical GIS, urban networks and planning, and geographies of violence.

I currently work for the American Federation of Teachers - Kansas as the Communications Specialist where I facilitate internal and external comms needs, including writing press releases, preparing congressional testimony and media statements, creating content, designing graphics, managing website and social media content—basically anything that helps our members grow their union, develop strong leaders, and are represented in the best possible light.

grants and fellowships

  • University Graduate Fellowship, 2018-2019
  • TRESTLE course transformation grant, 2018
  • Fulbright for research in Ukraine, 2015-2016
  • Kollmorgen Fellowship, 2012-2013
  • CREES-FMSO Research Assistantship, spring 2011


In progress:

  • With Shannon O'Lear, "Chornobyl Body Politics: Making Environmental Violence Visible," in forthcoming edited volume on environmental violence from Cambridge Press

Peer-reviewed publications:

Minor publications:

courses taught

  • Physical Geography Lab (GEOG 104) hybrid, spring 2020
  • Introduction to Cultural Geography (GEOG 370), fall 2019
  • People, Place, Society (GEOG 102), 11 semesters between fall 2012 and summer 2019
  • People, Place, Society (GEOG 102) online, fall 2013 and summer 2016
  • Physical Geography Lab (GEOG 104), spring and summer 2013
  • Beginning Russian (RUSS 102, 104), fall 2011 and spring 2012

awards and honors

  • Doctoral Student Fund research award, 2018
  • Graduate Scholarly Presentation award, 2018
  • Hall Center Summer Writing Fellowship, 2017
  • Palij Book Award for Ukrainian Studies, 2011

conference and other presentations

Academic conferences:

  • Geography dissertation defense, 2022: "Social Fallout: Ukrainian Biopolitics and Geopolitics in the Shadow of Chornobyl"
  • Fulbright orientation, 2019: "Regional Expert Sessions: Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine" and "Social Science Research Methods"
  • ASEEES roundtable, 2018: organized session, "Doing research in post-soviet spaces: reports on recent fieldwork"
  • AAG, New Orleans, 2018: "Crises of confidence: Biopolitical effects of the Chornobyl disaster on Ukraine"
  • PGSG, University of New Orleans, 2018: "Opening spaces of dissent: The politics of information control in the aftermath of the Chornobyl disaster on Ukraine"
  • organized Platforma, a Ukrainian studies graduate student conference, 2017
  • AAG, Boston, 2017: co-organized session, "Post-soviet biopolitics"
  • PGSG, Harvard, 2017: "To save a city: Urban-scale geopolitics in Slavutych, Ukraine"
  • Chornobyl 30th anniversary lecture series hosted by Fulbright Ukraine, 2016: "Legacies and myths: Western perceptions of the Chornobyl disaster"
  • Aтомна революція: екологія політики, дифузія настроїв, санація свідомості (до 30-річчя аварії на чорнобильській аес) 2016: roundtable discussion
  • 1st International Conference on Nuclear Decomissioning and Environment Recovery 2016
  • Kрах радянської імперії: анатомія катасрофи, 2016: "The Chornobyl disaster and the end of the Soviet Union"
  • Ukrainian Ministry of Education workshop 2016: Publishing in western academic journals
  • National Academy of Educational Sciences (Ukraine), 2015: "PhD studies at American universities for graduate students"
  • AAG, Chicago, 2015: mediated phenomenology, "Stalker (1979), stalker, S.T.A.L.K.E.R., and stalkers"
  • PGSG, Depaul, 2015: "STS and political geography: Theory and applications"
  • AAG, Tampa, 2014: "Social fallout"
  • PGSG, UCLA, 2013: "Revenge of geography?"
  • AAG, Los Angeles, 2013: panel, "Territorial cleansing topics," "Bangladesh 1971"
  • AAG, New York, 2012: "Territorial cleansing: A geographical understanding of mass violence"

Lectures, posters, seminars, and colloquia

  • CUNY webinar discussion, 2022: "Geographers on the Russian Invasion: The Geopolitics of the War in Ukraine"
  • Celebration of Teaching, 2019: "Incorporating interaction and collaboration into Geography 102: People, Place, and Society"
  • Geography colloquium, 2019: "Social monitoring: The Department of Social Expertise and the evolution of biopolitics in post-Chornobyl Ukraine"
  • Hall Center workshop, 2018: "Doing research in post-soviet spaces"
  • CREES brownbag, 2017: "Doing social science research in post-Soviet spaces"
  • CREES brownbag, 2017: "To save a city: Urban-scale geopolitics in Slavutych, Ukraine"
  • Geography brownbag, 2016: "Reflections on my fulbright in Ukraine"
  • Geography colloquium, 2015: "Radioactive research: Fieldwork on a Fulbright"
  • Geography colloquium, 2013: "Kaplan's Revenge of Geography"
  • Architecture symposium, 2013: "Global poverty: Alternative approaches"
  • CREES brownbag, 2012: "Homeland vs. our land: Crimean Tatar identity"

Guest lectures:

  • "Borders and borderlands in Eastern Europe: A political geography perspective"
  • "Comic books and popular geopolitics"
  • "Chornobyl, science, and international politics"

extracurricular activity

Other work experience:

  • Communications specialist, AFT-KS, 2021-
  • Data specialist, AFT-KS, 2019-2020
  • Student athlete tutor, KU, 2013
  • Book review editor, The Russian Review, 2012
  • Graduate research assistant, FMSO, 2011

Professional service and volunteer activity:

  • Negotiation committee and chief steward, GTAC (AFT Local 6403), 2018-2019
  • Organizer, Platforma: a Ukrainian Studies graduate student conference, April 22, 2017
  • Co-organizer, lecture series on the 30th anniversary of the Chornobyl disaster hosted by Fulbright Ukraine, 2016
  • Student representative, political geography subgroup, 2013-14
  • REES GSO president, 2011-12 (vice president, 2012-2014)