William R. Newman received his Ph.D. in History of Science from Harvard University in 1986. He has been awarded fellowships, grants, and prizes from a wide variety of foundations, such as the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology, and the National Science Foundation.
His main present research interests focus on early modern “chymistry” and late medieval “alchemy,” especially as exemplified by Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, Daniel Sennert, and the first famous American scientist, George Starkey. Much of his research has centered on the history of matter-theory, especially corpuscularism and atomism, and on the history of early chemical technology. He has taught courses on these subjects in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, as well as courses on early science and its relationship to natural philosophy more broadly.
Professor Newman's many publications include:
- Atoms and Alchemy: Chymistry and the Experimental Origins of the Scientific Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006)
- Promethean Ambitions: Alchemy and the Quest to Perfect Nature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004)
- Alchemy Tried in the Fire: Starkey, Boyle, and the Fate of Helmontian Chymistry, with Lawrence M. Principe (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002)—this book won the 2005 History of Science Society Pfizer Award for "an outstanding book dealing with the history of science."
- Gehennical Fire: The Lives of George Starkey, An American Alchemist in the Scientific Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003, originally published by Harvard University Press)
- The Summa perfectionis of pseudo-Geber (Leiden: Brill, 1991)