Founding Members

(Want to get involved? Please click a name & contact one of us)

Adam Franklin-Lyons (Associate Professor of Medieval History at Emerson College)

Marlboro still likes Black and White...so there you go.Adam’s original work, starting with his dissertation, focused on famine and food supply in the Western Mediterranean.  The major research for the project comes from the various regions of the Crown of Aragon (roughly Catalonia, Valencia, Aragon, and parts of Languedoc-Roussillon.)  His new work on communications and travelers covers the same region and grows directly out of his curiosity about the transmission of knowledge about grain prices and market conditions during food crises.  When governments needed to know the price of supplies, they didn’t guess, they sent messengers.  Adam also hosts a history podcast available through both Itunes and on the website, The History Cafe.

David Gary Shaw  (Professor of History and Medieval Studies at Wesleyan University)

Within medieval history, Gary Shaw’s current research interests include the circulation of people, things, animals, and ideas in later medieval England, and it is in this area that his interest in the
Travelers Lab began. His current book project on this topic is tentatively called “Travelling to the Future. Networks of Modernity in Medieval England,” and several aspects have spawned additional research plans that the Travelers Lab will attempt to pursue. These will include the Database of Medieval Mobility, The English Friars Settlement project, the Episcopal Travel project, a project on aspects of judicial mobility, and the mapping of centers of accommodation and hospitality. Methodologically, his work has heavily used GIS solutions, but we anticipate further work involving increasing network analysis in the coming years.

Jesse W. Torgerson  (Assistant Professor of Letters, Medieval Studies, History, Wesleyan University)

Jesse W. Torgerson runs the Constantinople Palimpsest project torgerson index in conjunction with the Wesleyan course Constantinople: between Rome and Istanbul. Both project and course work to account for place (as a balance to historians’ predilection for time) within a historical survey, as lab team and students develop our database of surviving evidence for ‘Byzantine’ Constantinople (ca. 200-1500).
A second ongoing project — Geography and Narrative in the Chronicle of Theophanes — explores the viability of digital tools (GIS, text-mining, quantitative text analysis, etc.) for plotting the “Conceptual Geography” of narrative texts.


Network Members

Helen Birkett  (Senior Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Exeter)

Helen Birkett’s work focuses on the intellectual and religious birkettculture of twelfth-century Britain and Ireland, with a particular interest in literary sources, networks, and communication. Her current research concerns the idea of news in the Middle Ages and seeks to engage with bigger debates going on in early modern and modern scholarship on this topic. She also continues to work on a long-term project concerning the transmission of exempla by the Cistercians of Britain and Ireland c.1200. Prof. Birkett was in residence with us at Wesleyan for the Fall 2017 semester to collaborate on overlapping projects, and explore how to bring our Traveler’s Lab model of student-faculty research collaborations to Exeter University.


Kathryn Jasper  (Associate Professor of History, Director European Studies, Illinois State University)

Kathryn Jasper, Associate Professor of History at Illinois State University, specializes in Roman and medieval Mediterranean history, with teaching interests spanning Western and Central Europe, North Africa, Byzantium, and the Middle East. Her courses emphasize engagement with diverse sources including monuments and art. In her research, Jasper focuses on archaeological excavations near Lake Bolsena, examining economic and trade implications. Her recent book, Bounded Wilderness: Land and Reform at the Hermitage of Fonte Avellana, ca. 1035-1072 (Cornell University Press, 2024), explores the role of land in medieval religious reform, offering insights into economic practices and ecclesiastical property.

Pavel Oleinikov (Associate Director, Quantitative Analysis Center (QAC), Wesleyan University)


Sean Perrone (Professor of History, Saint Anselm College)

My research has focused on the financial negotiations between the Castilian Crown and the Assembly of the Clergy in the sixteenth century. In recent years, I’ve been working on a project to map royal finances and the collection of ecclesiastical subsidies in the early 1500s.  Right now, I’m working with history and computer science students to map monasteries that contributed to the ecclesiastical subsidies as well as monasteries along the Camino de Santiago in ArcGIS.


William Pinch (Professor of History, Wesleyan University)

William Pinch’s work in the Traveler’s Lab focuses on the detailed journals and reports of Francis Buchanan (later Hamilton), surgeon and botanist, produced between 1807 and 1814 while in the service of the East India Company.  Building on work done for his 1996 book, Peasants and Monks in British India (see here and here), Pinch and student Rachel Liu are producing GIS maps that aim to capture the myriad details of Buchanan’s travels through Bihar in north India—including the quality of roads, naming conventions, flora and fauna, built environment, notable encounters, and topography.  In addition, they hope to produce a map of “sectarian influence” in south Bihar that focuses on the social roles of ascetics and holy men (and some women) and the ascetic networks and institutions that sustained them, about which Buchanan provided remarkably detailed information.  This map will accompany a book chapter by Pinch for the Cambridge History of the Modern Indian Subcontinent (scheduled for 2022).


Jason L. Simms  (Anthropologist and Academic Computing Manager at Lafayette College)

Jason Simms is the Instructional Technologist for Lafayette College in Easton, PA. His interdisciplinary educational background and interests range from humanities to STEAM: he earned a B.A. in Classics and an M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Tennessee, and an M.P.H. in Environmental Health, a Ph.D. in Applied Anthropology, and a graduate certificate in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) from the University of South Florida. His broad interests within academic computing include data science and visualization, facilitating and energizing interdisciplinary collaboration on teaching and projects, geospatial projects, digital humanities, and more.