Meet the Director of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship: Timothy Newfield, PhD

Timothy Newfield
Headshot of Timothy Newfield

Timothy Newfield, PhD, is a historical epidemiologist, an environmental historian, and Professor in the Departments of History and Biology. As an historian of disease, he studies how humans have manipulated the environment in ways that have been conducive to disease emergencies in interdisciplinary teams which include archaeologists, paleogenomicists, evolutionary biologists and other specialists in the sciences of the past.

This interdisciplinary research has allowed Newfield and the interdisciplinary teams he is part of to expand the ways in which knowledge is produced and used in each field and the nature of the fields themselves. Thus, the sciences of the human past allow them to identify proxies, independent of the written sources, that can provide a less biased account of what happened, about for instance the origins, spread and impact of historical disease events.  Interdisciplinary dialogue ensures that data are properly framed and contextualized and that research projects serve a purpose now, and produce data that we need or that can answer the questions that we have.

His papers have appeared in Agricultural History Review, Annales, Argos, Climatic Change, Climate of the Past, Early Medieval Europe, Euro-Mediterranean Journal for Environmental Integration, Geology, History Compass, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Journal of Roman Archaeology, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, Medizinhistorisches Journal, Nature, Nature Ecology and Evolution, Post-Classical Archaeologies, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Royal Society Open Society, Social Science and Medicine, and in edited volumes.

Featured media, scholarship, and events

Epidemic Millennium Hosted by Dr. Timothy Newfield

April 21st, 2023

In April 2023, Core Faculty Dr. Timothy Newfield hosted a 22-talk, 2-day meeting that brought together scholars from many disciplines, including History, Archaeology, Anthropology, Paleopathology,…

“Syndemic Theory, Methods, and Data”

December 14th, 2021

Emily Mendenhall, Timothy Newfield and Alexander Tsai introduce an Special Issue of Social Science & Medicine, focused on Rethinking Syndemics through time, space, and method.…

“Towards a Rigorous Understanding of Societal Responses to Climate Change”

March 24th, 2021

The team of researchers that includes Timothy Newfield and Jakob Burnham proposes an interdisciplinary framework for uncovering climate–society interactions that emphasizes the mechanics by which climate change has influenced human history, and the uncertainties of discerning that influence across spatiotemporal scales. …

“Past Pandemics and Climate Variability Across the Mediterranean”

September 19th, 2020

Timothy Newfield and his co-authors explore potential associations between pandemic disease and climate in Mediterranean history. They make sense of the influence that meteorological, climatological and environmental factors had on historical disease outbreaks.…