Affiliated Department or Office
Institute of Science & Technology for Development
Postdoc, The University of California, Berkeley
PhD in Anthropology, The City University of New York
BA in Cultural Studies, Sabanci University, Turkey

I am an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Rhetoric. Before joining WPI, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. My work is animated by an intellectual curiosity with how ideas travel across time and space, and generate diverse practices of acting, seeing, and being in the world. I am especially intrigued by situations in which people come to ask new questions about themselves and others, in ways that require reconsideration of past experiences and imagining of future possibilities. Such situations, I believe, capture an important aspect of the human condition—the intertwining trajectories of power and authority, on the one hand, and creativity and innovation, on the other.

The book that I am currently preparing for publication discusses a similar situation among young Muslims in Turkey. Titled "What is the Language of Islam?: The Qur’an, Science, and Translation in Turkey," it presents an ethnographic analysis of how Muslims navigate religious texts and traditional interpretations within the framework of secularism and modern science. This analysis draws on my doctoral research funded by the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.

My second book project draws on my new research on the idea of human-technology collaboration in the 'future of work’ research. Tentatively titled "The Future of the Future of Work," this book is an exploration of 'the future of work’ as a framework of design and innovation in robotics, digital platforms, neurotechnology, and computational media. I ask: what happens when we start to see 'the future of work' as a matter of tech design? What questions are we not asking? In what ways are concerns about equity and justice reflected in the design of future workplace technologies? How do technologists imagine 'the human worker' of the future when they design for human-technology collaboration? 

As a design anthropologist, I collaborate with engineering researchers on four different National Science Foundation-funded projects on the future of work (#1922761, #2024802, #2222713, and #2228652). Each of these collaborative projects helps me explore different aspects of workplace technology design: from nursing robots, to nonprofit platforms, to maintenance work. I am the social sciences lead of WPI's NSF Research Traineeship Program on 'Future of Robots in the Workplace’ and organize a year-long ’social impact of research’ workshop series for graduate student trainees. 

In addition, with two Public Interest Technology University Network grants, Laureen Elgert and I have introduced 'JustT Collab' (Collaborative for Technology for Transformative Justice) at WPI. Our work at JustT Collab focuses on forging new connections among social justice, critical policy studies, and science and engineering education. As an extension of my interest in ethics and workplace technologies, I serve as a co-chair of the IEEE Brain Neuroethics Subcommittee’s 'Work and Employment' working group

I teach a range of courses on rhetoric, cultural theory, science and engineering communication, and technology ethics. Inspired by WPI's ethos of project-based learning and informed by my collaborations with fellow educators at WPI's Center for Project-Based Learning, my classes are structured around team projects that help students see themselves and their classmates as active participants in the process of knowledge production and dissemination. I also work with Professional Writing students on their senior capstone projects that bring together anthropological and rhetorical inquiries on current ethical concerns in science and engineering.

Visit Digital WPI to view student research and projects advised by Professor Telliel.

Professional Highlights & Honors
Co-facilitator of Professional Learning Community on “Investigating the Role of GPT in the Curriculum" (2023-24), Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Facilitator of Professional Learning Community on “Research Ethics: Integrating IRB and Ethics Pedagogy for Emergent and Applied Research Areas" (2022-23), Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Fellow, the Being Human Institute (2021-2023), Indiana University
Fellow, the Center for Advancing Research Impact in Society / ARIS (2021-22), University of Missouri
Fellow, the Institute for Public Interest Technology (2021), New York University
Fellow, the Summer Institute in Technology Ethics (2021), Santa Clara University
Social Venture Research Institute Fellowship (2020), The Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship Network
Fellow, ‘Teaching Against Islamophobia’ Initiative (2018-19), American Academy of Religion and Wabash College
Worcester Business Journal
WPI receives $3M to study human-robot workplace interaction

The Worcester Business Journal reported on WPI receiving $3 million from the National Science Foundation to study human-robot interaction in the workplace. Eight WPI researchers are involved: Cagdas Onal (principal investigator), Yunus Telliel, Jeanine Skorinko, Winston Soboyejo, Jing Xiao, Pratap Rao, Soussan Djamasbi and Jane Li