Rob Smith


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Personal profile

Research interests

I am interested in the ways that ethical and social dimensions are produced — for example through discourses and actions — by different actors within the biosciences. In my doctoral research, I explored this by focusing on NGOs, research funders and scientists engaging with the development and deployment of biofuels. I have also worked with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to examine and build public / stakeholder engagement processes, as part of projects to develop teaching tools around responsible innovation, and on an EC FP7 project (EST-Frame) that focused on the assessment of emerging technologies. During this time I have advocated for a situated understanding of ‘the ethical’, which is sensitive to the differences and tensions between varying and fluxing forms of knowledge, governance, institutional culture, and the allocations of responsibility that accompany them.

As part of my work within the responsible innovation lab of the Flowers Consortium I am investigating what a ‘rethought’ form of the ethical might look like. This is structured around strands concerning: research funding as an on-going site of social science intervention; emerging forms of experimental collaboration; and the ways that particular value-laden decisions, forms of (tacit) knowledge and ideas about automation circulate within emerging synthetic biology infrastructures.

Research interests (short)

Science and Technology Studies; (Sociology of) Ethical and social dimensions in the biosciences; Research funders (e.g. as a site of engagement); Synthetic biology; Biofuels; Embodied values; Emerging infrastructures; Responsible Innovation / Anticipatory Governance

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action


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