Justin Niermeier-Dohoney

Postdoctoral Fellow (Sep 2020-Aug 2023)

Justin Niermeier-Dohoney is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science specializing in the history of early modern alchemy as a method of agricultural reform. He received BA degree from Indiana University (2004), MA degrees from Clemson University (2011) and the University of Chicago (2013), and a PhD from the University of Chicago (2018), where he was a two-year postdoctoral teaching fellow in the Department of History and the College.

Broadly speaking, his research explores questions about the ethical and practical concerns that early modern alchemists and agricultural reformers faced in their attempts to manipulate natural materials, the intersections of imperial expansion, capitalism, and trade in chemical and medical materials, and the historical origins of ecology, sustainability, and environmental management within these contexts. His project at the MPIWG, “Agricultural Uses of Alchemy in Early Modern Europe,” explores how agricultural reformers adopted vitalist matter theories and the operational techniques of alchemy to transform husbandry into a more economically productive enterprise.

Justin has taught several history courses at the University of Chicago and the Indiana University Southeast honors program, including courses on the history of Western civilization, the history of science from the ancient world to the modern era, Francis Bacon, nature and empire, utopianism, and the extraterrestrial life debate. He has received research grants and fellowships from the Science History Institute, the Dibner Library, the Linda Hall Library, the NSF, and the University of Chicago.


Agricultural Uses of Alchemy in Early Modern Europe


Agriculture and the Making of Sciences (1100–1700)


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Selected Publications

Niermeier-Dohoney, Justin (2022). “‘Rusticall chymistry’: Alchemy, Saltpeter Projects, and Experimental Fertilizers in Seventeenth-century English Agriculture.” History of Science 60 (4): 546–574.

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Niermeier-Dohoney, Justin (2022). “‘To Multiply Corn Two-Hundred-Fold’: The Alchemical Augmentation of Wheat Seeds in Seventeenth-Century English Husbandry.” Nuncius 37 (2): 284–314.

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Niermeier-Dohoney, Justin (2021). “Sapiens Dominabitur Astris: A Diachronic Survey of a Ubiquitous Astrological Phrase.” Humanities 10 (4, Article 117).

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