The Guggenheim Fellowship is enabling Walls to spend the academic year researching and writing a biography of Henry David Thoreau, the first full-length, newly researched biography on the transcendentalist in 40 years. She wants to reintroduce Thoreau to a 21st-century audience and connect him to 21st-century ideas of sustainability, responsibility and civic engagement.
Born in the small fishing village of Ketchikan, Alaska, Walls was raised on a forested island east of Seattle. She taught at Lafayette College for 12 years before coming to USC in 2004. In addition to “The Passage to Cosmos,” Walls’ books include “Emerson’s Life in Science: The Culture of Truth” and “Seeing New Worlds: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Natural Science.”