Roger Turner
University of Pennsylvania
National Air and Space Museum


I'm a Ph.D. candidate in the History and Sociology of Science Department at the University of Pennsylvania. I'll graduate in May, 2010. During the 2009-10 school year, I'm also a Guggenheim Fellow at the National Air and Space Museum.




I'm interested in how science and technology have shaped the places we inhabit, from inside our heads and out to the global atmosphere. By combining machines with knowledge about natural world, humans have radically altered the material possibilities of their lives, with profound consequences for the environment. Where I live in Washington D.C., I have continual access to water, food, energy, goods, transportation, and information, piped more or less anywhere I want it. The technological systems that make this possible function almost invisibly. (Who notices the power except when it goes out?) But because we live in the sub-lunar world of change, the study of which Aristotle called "meteorology," these systems need to be continually managed, monitored, and maintained as the environment changes.

In my dissertation, "Weathering Heights: The Emergence of Aeronautical Meteorology as an Infrastructural Science," I investigate how the upper air became important for military power and commercial productivity during the first half of the twentieth century. To fly safely and reliably, people needed to know new things about the weather. These needs stimulated a transformation in meteorology, eventually leading to advances in atmospheric physics and computer simulation that guide climate change policy today. They also transformed public discourse about weather, influencing the television weather reports that are watched every night by millions of people. (The slide show below shows some examples.) Read more about my research.

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(Slide show produced by SAS Frontiers staff and narrated by myself.)

Publications I have published peer reveiwed research and reference essays, as well as book reviews in Science and Technology & Culture. In 2002 I edited the 9th edition of the Guide to the History of Science.

Media I have worked in various media and assisted other authors to make my research accessible to different audiences. I have also produced a pedagogical website titled Exploring Illness Across Time and Place (with Chris Jones).

Teaching I have taught with scientists and historians, developing numerical modeling techniques with underprivileged high school students at the Santa Fe Institute, tutoring freshman biology students in writing, and discussing the techno-politics of science fiction with advanced undergrads. Through Penn, I have received specialized training in teaching public speaking, expository writing, and grant writing.

Affiliations Through the end of 2009, I am webmaster and a member of the executive committee of the International Commission for History of Meteorology. In 2010 I will chair the History Committee of the American Meteorological Society. I am also part of a growing community of interdisciplinary researchers seeking to integrate natural and social science into environmental policy.

Contact Information | ©Roger Turner