Brian Turnquist Brian Turnquist

The Art and Logic of Brian Turnquist

Professor of Math and Computer Science


Between graduating from Bethel in 1987 and returning to teach in 1997:

Grad studies at the University of Maryland and research work with Johns Hopkins

Favorite lab tool at Bethel:

Beowulf Cluster, an 80-processor supercomputer. (He teaches upper-level students to build their own version.)

Most recent academic paper:

"Signal Acquisition Issues in Neurophysiology"

Non-teaching achievement:

Developed software to measure the intensity of pain and itch sensations, to help the medical profession develop treatments. Works with researchers at Johns Hopkins; University of Nagoya, Japan; University of Mannheim-Heidelberg and University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. (Taught himself the German language to collaborate better, and is reading up on Germany, pre-World War II.)

Latest research with students:

Record and decode the ultrasonic "language" of lab rats so researchers can know how they’re really responding to therapies.

Why Bethel:

"It’s where God wants me now. What I do in research energizes my teaching. It helps students understand that academics are there for a reason. In the case of chronic pain, I can say, 'Let me tell you what this assignment did for somebody.'"

Thoughts on the prediction that computers will outsmart humans:

"Because of its incredible speed, the computer lets us see things we shouldn't be able to see. But we still need to use our minds once we’re in contact with that information. What computers can’t do is strategy—understand what is relevant and make a choice."

Service to the local church:

Directs worship at Elim Church in Minneapolis, where he and other band members write their own music. Also, leads “The Misfits,” a Sunday school class that analyzes modern films from a Christian standpoint.

Belief that math/science people are also musical:

"An engineer looks for ideas that are simple and elegant. In music, you're also trying to avoid clutter. You want the instruments to work together."

Rock influences: Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin.

Morning music: Bach Suites.


Wife, Jennifer, and 4 children, age 7 to 14—3 in a German immersion school. (And a live-in mother-in-law.)

Avoiding the smart phone:

"The technology can be a very good thing, but it can be bondage. If I were constantly texting or Twittering, I would have no thoughts of my own, no space to do my research—or to listen to what God is saying about something."