Associate Professor in History and the Comparative History of Ideas, Thurtle is a historian of biology, medicine, and mental health. He received his PhD in history and the philosophy of science from Stanford University.
He is the author of The Emergence of Genetic Rationality: Space, Time, and Information in American Biology 1870-1920 (University of Washington Press, 2008), the co-author with Robert Mitchell (English, Duke University) and Helen Burgess (English, University of Maryland) of the interactive DVD-ROM BioFutures: Owning Information an Body Parts (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), and the co-editor with Robert Mitchell of the volumes Data Made Flesh: Embodying Information (Routledge, 2003) and Semiotic Flesh: Information and the Human Body (University of Washington Press, 2002).
His research focuses on the material culture of information processing, the affective-phenomenological domains of media, the role of information processing technologies in biomedical research, theories of novelty in the life sciences, and the history of mental health. His most recent work is on the cellular spaces of transformation in evolutionary and developmental biology research and has a manuscript due out from University of Minnesota Press in 2018, entitled, Life In the Grid: Regulating a New Politics of Life.