David E. Dunning is a historian of science, mathematics, and computing in modern Europe and North America. His research explores the material and social dimensions of abstract knowledge. He is currently launching a project that explores the early history of programming languages in tandem with conceptions of language more broadly, investigating how different visions of human language shaped and were shaped by the evolution of programming practices.
As a Beckman Center fellow, he will use the FLOWTRAN System Collection at the Othmer Library to study the Monsanto Company’s use of the FORTRAN language in developing a highly successful chemical process simulation system, known as FLOWTRAN. Using preserved programmer’s manuals and instructional materials, he aims to understand how the practice of FLOWTRAN programming related to FORTRAN itself, and how working chemists responded to the novel demands of programming.
Dunning holds a PhD in history of science from Princeton University. He is currently a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Oxford. In 2022–2023 he will be a lecturer in the Integrated Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania and IEEE Life Member History Fellow.