Iris Engstrand, PhD

Professor Emerita, History

  • PhD, University of Southern California, History
  • MA, University of Southern California, History
  • BA, University of Southern California, History
  • Graduate, Orange Coast College
  • Graduate, Newport Harbor High School

Iris H. W. Engstrand, PhD, is a native Californian. Engstrand’s academic honors include USD’s distinguished University Professorship; the Davies Award for Faculty Achievement; Awards of Merit from the San Diego, Southern California, and California Historical Societies, Western History Association, and Orange Coast College; fellowships from the Fulbright Commission, American Philosophical Society and Huntington Library; and the California Design Award in Historic Preservation. She is a trustee of the San Diego Natural History Museum and the San Diego Maritime Museum, past president of the American Historical Association Pacific Coast Branch and of the Western History Association. Engstrand has lived and traveled extensively in Spain and Mexico and lectures widely in both English and Spanish. She has degrees in history, with maors and minors in the fields of California, Mexico, Latin America and the Spanish Southwest history, biology and Spanish

Engstrand has recently been awarded the prestigious medal of the Order of Isabel la Catolica (Isabel the Catholic -- ruler of Spain in 1492) by Juan Carlos, King of Spain, for outstanding contributions to the history of Spain in the Americas.

Scholarly Work

Engstrand is the author of 21 books and numerous separate book chapters and articles on Spain, California, and the West. Books include the award-winning San Diego: California's Cornerstone; Spanish Scientists in the New World: The Eighteenth Century Expeditions; and William Wolfskill: Frontier Trapper to California Ranchero. Others books cover San Diego’s local institutions such as the Natural History Museum, the San Diego Yacht Club and San Diego Gas & Electric Company. Her article entitled “Of Fish and Men: Spanish Marine Science during the Late Eighteenth Century” published in the Pacific Historical Review in 2000 won the Bolton award given by the Western History Association.  She also serves as co-editor of the Journal of San Diego History and has appeared on the History Channel and local TV programs featuring San Diego History.