Carruthers is a pioneer of environmental history in South Africa and a leader in global and transnational environmental history. Her work has been inspirational in the fields of animal studies, natural resource management, the history of biology and the broader environmental humanities. She has been a critical policy adviser to SANParks and has raised awareness among scientists, sociologists and activists about the human side of conservation actions – encouraging thinking beyond advocacy for the environment in isolation to environmentalism that embraces social and political history.


Carruthers was a member of the History Department at the University of South Africa (Unisa) from 1980 until retirement in 2012. She remains Emeritus Professor and Research Associate of Unisa and is also a Research Associate of the Centre for Invasion Biology at Stellenbosch University. She has been a Member of ASSAf since 2012 and is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa (since 2007). She has held a B1-rating from the National Research Foundation since 2008.


Carruthers has been a runner-up for a lifetime achievement award from both the National Science and Technology Forum (2015) and the Human Sciences Research Council (2017). In 2018, she was the first African to have been awarded the Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Society for Environmental History – the highest prize in the discipline of Environmental History. 


She was the first female President of the Southern African Historical Society (2007–2009) and was the inaugural President of the International Consortium of Environmental History Organisations, based at Duke University NC (2011–2014). She has also been Chair of the Academic Advisory Board of the Rachel Carson Centre for Environment and Society, Ludwig Maximilian University and Deutsches Museum, Munich (2009–2015).


Carruthers has published seven sole-authored books; one co-authored book; 30 chapters in books; and more than 60 articles in peer-reviewed journals. She was Editor of Kleio (now African Historical Review) from 2004 to 2006. She currently serves on the editorial boards of five international and local journals (and is a past member of another six) and is the book review editor of the Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa.


Carruthers succeeds Dr John Butler-Adam who has been Editor-in-Chief since November 2012.