Roger outdoors, looking up and smiling, wearing glasses and blue button-down shirt

Roger Turner

Curator of Instruments and Artifacts

Roger Turner is an historian and storyteller. His particular scholarly expertise is in 20th-century atmospheric science, scientific instruments, and environmental monitoring.

At the Science History Institute, Roger helped launch the student role-playing game Conflicts in Chemistry: The Case of Rare Earth Elements, worked on the film The Instrumental Chemist, developed the playful online experience Instruments of Change, and contributes to museum exhibitions. He wrote and curated Mechanochemistry: The Science of Crush for Google Arts & Culture and also authors the occasional Distillations magazine story.

Before coming to the Institute, Roger taught at colleges and worked as a public history consultant, advising on oral history preservation, collections development, and public communications. His research on weather forecasting has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the American Meteorological Society, and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. You can read the bits with neat pictures at

Stories from Roger Turner


Critical Metals: The Chemistry of Light

From lightbulbs to lasers, many technologies use the luminescent properties of rare earth metals.
Glass vessel with handwritten label that reads "This is not a bong."

‘High’ School Science

Most object labels tell us what something is. Why one in our collections tells us what something is not.
Black and white illustration of a smiling elephant with wings flying. A small smiling person in a dress without shoes and a taller smiling person in a checkered shirt holding a spray can and spraying the elephant.

The Price of Gold in a ‘Golden Age’

Two humorous poems illuminate the politics of science funding in the 1950s.

Matthew Carey Lea and the Origins of Mechanochemistry

A reclusive expert of 19th-century photography laid the foundation for green chemistry solutions emerging today.

Wayne Woolley’s Marvelously Equipped Mind

What drove a blind biochemist to experiment with LSD?

Charles Anderson Chases an Eclipse

A lucky streak sends a meteorologist on the flight of a lifetime.