Ashton Merck
Visiting Lecturer at Duke Kunshan University

Ashton Merck is a historian of law, business, and policy whose research focuses on how societies define and regulate uncertain risks. Her dissertation analyzed the evolution of self-regulation in food safety over the last half of the twentieth century, using a case study of the American poultry industry. Merck has been awarded fellowships from the Business History Conference, the American Society for Legal History, the Eisenhower Foundation, the Duke Rethinking Regulation Program, the Environmental Health Scholars Program, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Merck’s research agenda has been shaped by a series of interdisciplinary research collaborations. While in graduate school, Merck worked with social scientists, natural scientists, and lawyers on a variety of projects, including: the environmental impacts of livestock production, the role of gender in the success or failure of rural electrification projects, and the regulation of the word “natural” on food products.

At Duke, Merck has taught "The Modern Regulatory State," and been featured as a guest expert in "Risk Regulation in the US, Europe, and Beyond." In Fall 2020, Merck will teach courses for Duke Kunshan University in public policy.

Currently, Merck is revising her dissertation manuscript for publication and expanding a working paper on the risks and benefits of genetically modified salmon.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

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