Western University HistoryWestern Social Science

William J. Turkel

- Professor

PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 2004
Telephone: 519-661-2111 ext. 87433
Email: wturkel@uwo.ca
Office: Lawson Hall 2267
Office Hours: (Fall) Mondays 2:30-3:20pm LwH 2267

Research Interests

I do computational history, big history, computational social science, STS, physical computing, desktop fabrication and electronics. My recent monograph Spark from the Deep (2013) is available in inexpensive electronic and hardback editions. My first book, The Archive of Place (2007), is also available online. I write code every day.

Major Research Projects

In addition to a number of ongoing research collaborations in digital history, I am currently working on three projects. One is a study of attempts to build a self-replicating device, from the machine tools of the Industrial Revolution to the RepRaps of today. As part of this research, I have built a series of 3D printers and other CNC tools. The second project is a study of mid-20th-century analog electronic computing. My colleagues and I are reverse engineering the vacuum-tube-based computers of the 1930s, 40s and 50s using the transistors and analog integrated circuits that became available a generation later. The third project is a study of what Edward Jones-Imhotep and I call ‘the universal scientific instrument’. Over the past two hundred years, most scientific instrumentation has come to take the form of a domain-specific front end which transduces signals into electronic form, and a universal back end which processes them. There is a more extensive summary of my work in my Research Statement (2014).

This coming year I will be teaching Mathematica programming, research methods, digital history and interactive exhibit design in undergraduate and graduate courses. I continue to collaborate with colleagues and students on the community edition of The Programming Historian and on applying methods like experimentation, text mining and machine learning to historical research. Students I am currently working with include Devon Elliott, Tristan Johnson and Carla Joubert. Past students include Adam Crymble and Rebecca Woods. Ian Milligan and Daniel Rueck are former postdocs. I am happy to discuss research opportunities with potential students and collaborators any time.

There is a lot more information about my work on my personal website.

Selected Publications



Open Access Textbooks

Selected Chapters

Selected Journal Articles

Selected Research Funding

Awards and Distinctions