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Monique Laney

Monique Laney

Associate Professor


Monique Laney

Contact Me


327 Thach Hall

Personal Website

Office Hours

Monday, Wednesday 10-11 am or by appointment


PhD, University of Kansas

MA, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität     

About Me

Monique Laney joined Auburn University in 2014. Her research combines the history of science and technology and migration studies by focusing on "highly skilled" migrants. Her first book, German Rocketeers in the Heart of Dixie: Making Sense of the Nazi Past during the Civil Rights Era (Yale University Press, 2015), won the 2015 Eugene M. Emme Astronautical Literature Award from the American Astronautical Society, the 2016 Gardner-Lasser Aerospace History Literature Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics 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. This study’s main subjects are the German rocket specialists and their families, who were brought to the United States after World War II under the military operation Project Paperclip and later followed the Army to Huntsville, Alabama. Led by Wernher von Braun, the German rocket team has been celebrated internationally for its contributions to the Army’s missile and NASA’s space programs. Based on oral histories and archival material, the book examines this post-World War II international and national migration linked to military and “Big Science” projects and the effects of this migration on a small southern community, race relations in the South, and negotiations over U.S. history, memory and identity during the Cold War.

Laney has received multiple awards for her research, including a grant from the National Science Foundation, two fellowships at Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, and two fellowships sponsored by NASA. Currently, Laney is working on a book manuscript, tentatively titled Brain Gain: Bringing Scientists and Engineers to the United States since World War II, which examines the trajectory and societal impact of policies concerning highly skilled migrants to the United States.

In addition to teaching the technology and civilization sequence, Laney offers courses on the Cold War, space exploration, oral history, and immigration history. She serves as the treasurer for the Immigration and Ethnic History Society (IEHS) and is a member of the University of Alabama Editorial Board.

Before coming to Auburn, she taught history and American studies courses for universities in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Laney spent eight years working in the information technology industry as a consultant, trainer, and customer liaison, prior to returning to school for her PhD.

Research Interests

U.S. immigration history, history of science and technology


  • "Skilled Migrant Workers." In The Cambridge History of Global Migrations: Volume 2: Migrations, 1800–Present, edited by Madeline Y. Hsu and Marcelo J. Borges, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023, 300-318.
  • “Give Me Your Best and Brightest: Chasing STEM workers since World War II” in Whose America? U.S. Immigration Policy since 1980, edited by María Cristina García and Maddalena Marinari, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2023, 69-90.
  • "Setting the Stage to Bring in the 'Highly Skilled': Project Paperclip and the Recruitment of German Specialists after World War II." In A Nation of Immigrants Reconsidered: US Society in an Age of Restriction, 1924-1965, edited by Maddalena Marinari, Madeline Y. Hsu and María Cristina García, Urbana: University of Illinois, 2019, 144-60.
  • “Von Braun’s Team in Huntsville,” Alabama Heritage, Winter 2017.
  • German Rocketeers in the Heart of Dixie: Making Sense of the Nazi Past during the Civil Rights Era. Yale University Press, 2015.
  • “’Operation Paperclip’ in Huntsville, Alabama,” Steven J. Dick, ed. Remembering the Space Age. Washington, D.C.: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2008, 89-107.
  • “Wernher von Braun and Arthur Rudolph: Negotiating the past in Huntsville, Alabama.” In German Diasporic Experiences: Identity, Migration, and Loss, ed. by Mathias Schulze, James M.Skidmore, David G. John, Grit Liebscher, and Sebastian Siebel-Achenbach, Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2008, 443-454.
  • “The New York Times and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: Two Perspectives on the War in Iraq.” In Safeguarding German-American Relations in the New Century: Understanding and Accepting Mutual Differences, edited by Hermann Kurthen, Antonio V. Menendez-Alarcon, and Stefan Immerfall. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books - Rowman & Littlefield, 2006, 177-198.

Courses Taught

  • HIST 7970: The Cold War​
  • HIST 7970: Immigration and Technology
  • HIST 7520: Politics and Technology in the Space Age
  • HIST 5000/6000: NASA and the South
  • HIST 4950: Senior Thesis
  • HIST 3970: U.S. Technology through Foreign Eyes
  • HIST 3540: History of Popular Culture
  • HIST 3510: History of Space Exploration
  • HIST 1220: Technology and Civilization II
  • HIST 1210: Technology and Civilization I