All Projects

Future organisms

July 2021 – July 2024

Future organisms: synthetic genomics and responsible innovation in the UK, the USA and Japan

The aim of this project is two-fold: to carry out a social scientific investigation into synthetic genomics and to develop new approaches to responsible research and innovation through this investigation.

Building alternative practices for RRI in Japan and the UK

November 2018 – June 2021
As governments turn to science, technology, and medicine to deliver economic growth in times of uncertainty, they also turn to the humanities and social sciences to facilitate societal engagement and acceptance. This is a limited way of understanding the possible contributions of these disciplines to the development of science, technology and society.

With funding from the ESRC, we are working together to create a more expansive and critical agenda for Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in emergent scientific and technological fields, in a manner that is sensitive to national differences and promotes renewed reflexivity in both contexts. The project’s main activities centre around two workshops: the first in the United Kingdom and the second in Japan.

Synthetic biology

Funding Cultures Lab.

April 2018 – On going

Research funding organisations are a preeminent site of science policy. They set priorities for their respective fields, provide science advice and contribute to national debate on topics relating to science, technology and innovation. In collaboration with funding agency staff we explore questions about the roles and responsibilities of these frequently-overlooked organisations. How are decisions about the scope of a research agenda achieved? How are differing ideas of valuable research negotiated? And with these same staff, we develop new governance methodologies to shape emerging scientific fields in democratic societies.

Square Terrain

UKRI Centres for Doctoral Training

2018 – 2024
We have developed curricula and teaching resources to provide students with the conceptual tools and practical skills to engage with the social, political, environmental and cultural dimensions of their work as researchers. In Edinburgh, our teaching centres around the CDT in Biomedical AI but we have strong connections with Centres at Imperial College London, the University of Oxford and the University of Bath.
UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology Logo

Experimental collaborations in the UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology

2014 – 2022

We have developed a programme of social scientific research on responsible research and innovation in the UK’s Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology. Our work has four main strands.

Synthetic biology

Engineering life

September 2014 – February 2020
“Engineering life is not like engineering concrete or silicon” (Herbert Sauro, Nature, 8th May 2014, p.157).
The emerging field of synthetic biology promises to engineer the living world. Its proponents argue that it will deliver new fuels, medicines and materials that will drive the next industrial revolution. A field of such potentially huge significance requires informed social scientific attention. And because of synthetic biology’s bold ambitions and disruptive potential, scholars from the social sciences and humanities have become enrolled into synthetic biology research projects in a manner that is unprecedented.