Prior to joining Charles Sturt University, Sam Bowker worked for the National Portrait Gallery, the National Museum of Australia, the National Library of Australia, and lectured in Art Theory for the Australian National University's School of Art.
His PhD thesis, "Their War and Mine", examined the implications of the use of self-portraiture by war artists, focusing on the collection of the Australian War Memorial. His previous thesis studied the biographic myths promoted by travelling artists in the nineteenth century, including Augustus Earle, Nicholas Chevalier, and Thomas Baines.
His current major research project is an art historical survey of Khayamiya, or Egyptian Tentmaker Applique, from the late Ottoman Empire to the present. In this role he curated the international touring exhibition 'Khayamiya: Khedival to Contemporary'. He seeks to facilitate greater access to Islamic Art for Australian audiences.
He is also co-editing a 2016 edition of the 'Fusion' journal on the theme of 'Anonymous: The Void in Visual Culture'.