Kyle Harper

Fractal Faculty

Kyle Harper is Professor of Classics and Letters at his alma mater, the University of Oklahoma, and a member of the Fractal Faculty at the Santa Fe Institute. Harper is an historian whose work integrates the natural sciences into the study of the human past. His main research interests include the role of climate change and pandemic disease in the ancient world, especially in the Roman period. More broadly, he works on the global history of humans as agents of ecological change and asks how we can approach questions such as biodiversity, health, and environmental sustainability from a historical perspective.

He is the author of four books, including The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire, published in 2017 and translated into 12 languages. Harper’s latest book, Plagues upon the Earth: Disease and the Course of Human History, is a global history of infectious disease spanning from human origins to COVID-19. It was the 2021 PROSE winner for best book in the history of science, technology, and medicine. Harper has been a Guggenheim Fellow and an Andrew Carnegie Fellow in addition to a Junior Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks and a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University.

His next book, The Last Animal, is a history of humans and other animals.

His personal website is

In July 2022, Harper sat down to talk with SFI President David Krakauer about his work. His responses can be found in the video below.