David Sepkoski

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Contact Information

History, 301 Greg Hall
810 S. Wight Street M/C 466
Urbana, IL 61801

Thomas M. Siebel Endowed Chair


David Sepkoski is the Thomas M. Siebel Chair in History of Science at the University of Illinois.  He specializes in transnational history of biological, environmental, and information sciences in cultural context.

Sepkoski's most recent book, Catastrophic Thinking: Extinction and the Value of Diversity, will be published by the University of Chicago Press.  He is also the author of Rereading the Fossil Record: The Growth of Paleobiology as an Evolutionary Discipline (Chicago, 2012) and Nominalism and Constructivism in Seventeenth-Century Natural Philosophy (Routledge, 2007), as well as several edited volumes and special journal issues.  

His current research interests include the history of data practices in the natural sciences, the cultural impact of the sciences of "deep time" at the turn of the current millennium, and the history of biological determinism.

Research Interests

History of Science


PhD, Program in History of Science and Technology, University of Minnesota
MA, Social Sciences, University of Chicago
BA, Carleton College

Additional Campus Affiliations

Professor, School of Information Sciences

Recent Publications

Sepkoski, D., & Tamborini, M. (2018). "An image of science": Cameralism, statistics, and the visual language of natural history in the nineteenth century. Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences, 48(1), 56-109. https://doi.org/10.1525/HSNS.2018.48.1.56

Sepkoski, D. C. (2018). Data in time: Statistics, natural history, and the visualization of temporal data. Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences, 48(5), 581-593. https://doi.org/10.1525/hsns.2018.48.5.581

Sepkoski, D. C. (Accepted/In press). The Unfinished Synthesis? Paleontology and Evolutionary Biology in the 20th Century. Journal of the History of Biology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10739-018-9537-8

Aronova, E., Von Oertzen, C., & Sepkoski, D. C. (2017). Introduction: Historicizing big data. Osiris, 32(1), 1-17. https://doi.org/10.1086/693399

Sepkoski, D. C., & Tamborini, M. (2017). Introduction: Towards a global history of paleontology: The paleontological reception of Darwin's thought. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C :Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 66, 1-2. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsc.2017.09.005

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