The Power of Plasticity: Epigenetics in Science Fiction

This is another guest post by Cath Ennis in our series of posts on epigenetics and popular culture. *** One of the fascinating things about epigenetics is how quickly some of the public perceptions of the field have raced far beyond the actual state of the science. I’ve seen and heard countless online and real …

“It’s just like epigenetics” – scientific metaphors for non-scientific concepts

This is a guest post by Cath Ennis. Cath is a Knowledge Translation Specialist with the University of British Columbia’s Human Early Learning Partnership and the Kobor Lab at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute. *** In our new paper, Brigitte Nerlich, Aleksandra Stelmach and I examined the metaphors used by academic social scientists and alternative …

How to do things with epigenetics

We have just published in article on epigenetics in Social Science Information! It’s part of a special issue coordinated by the sociologist Michel Dubois (CNRS, Paris) that is coming out in print at the beginning of the new year. The special issue deals with epigenetics and interdisciplinarity. Our article examines some obstacles that might hinder …

Epi-pins: Epigenetics on Pinterest

This post has been co-authored with Cath Ennis, University of British Colombia, Vancouver (author of Epigenetics: A Graphic Guide). Cath is a Knowledge Translation Specialist with the University of British Columbia’s Human Early Learning Partnership and the Kobor Lab at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute. *** Cath and I are interested in how epigenetics is …

Making the transgenerational epigenetic inheritance of trauma real

This post has been co-authored with Aleksandra Stelmach and Alan Miguel Valdez *** Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance (TEI) is a contested hypothesis within the complex field of epigenetics. The guess is that there are molecular mechanisms (‘beyond the gene’) through which social, cultural and physical experiences impact the human body and are transmitted to future generations. …

The history of biology and the joys of blogging

For the first time in my life and after the end of my official academic career, I’ll be co-presenting a paper at the International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology conference, which is taking place this year in Oslo, from July 7-12. I’ll only be co-presenting and I won’t be there …

Metaphors, machines and the meaning of life

Machine metaphors are ubiquitous in biology, nowhere more so than in synthetic biology, a type of biology that is inspired by engineering and design. This has attracted the attention of metaphor analysts, but also of philosophers and ethicists. Various scholars, both from the humanities/social sciences and the life sciences have grappled with some of the …

Threads, worms and science communication

I thought I had written my last post about epigenetics. But then came along some ‘worms’ and I had to write another one. I have written about worms once before on the Making Science Public blog, in the context of science communication. And this blog post too will reflect on worms in the context of …

Epigenetics: A blogging retrospective

Looking back over my blog posts, I realised that I have written 15 posts on epigenetics between 2013 and now (some with Aleksandra Stelmach). It’s time to take stock. Epigenetics is the latest in a long line of developments in genetics and genomics that I have studied through the lens of metaphor analysis, from cloning …

Witness marks: On the trail of an epigenetic metaphor

This is a guest post by Aleksandra Stelmach, University of Nottingham, Institute for Science and Society In a previous post Brigitte Nerlich and I briefly discussed the emergence of a seemingly new metaphor used in popular discussion about epigenetic effects of nutrition on offspring and, potentially, future generations. In this post I try to track …