The Carbon Neutral Lab: Science, culture, values

This week we held our yearly Synthetic Biology Research Centre (SBRC) Strategic Advisory Board Meeting. The meeting took place in the Carbon Neutral Laboratory which houses the Centre for Sustainable Chemistry. This building has become quite famous because it burned down last year, was rebuilt and opened this year. I should say from the outset …

Science, culture and cultural differences

Athene Donald recently published a thought-provoking blog post on culture and science. This post was itself motivated by discussions she has had with the Science Advisory Council for the Department of Culture, Media and Sports and a question posed by a member of this advisory council, Geoff Crossick, namely: ‘What do you mean by science?’ …

Sock puppets, muzzles and the impact agenda

This is a post by JOHN HOLMWOOD A new threat to the contribution of university research to public debate has been identified. This derives from Cabinet Office rules that would prevent bodies in receipt of grants from Government from lobbying. It has been suggested that this could muzzle academic research. Ironically, the rules derive from …

Ash dieback (Chalara), free trade, and the technocracy of biosecurity

This is a post by Judith Tsouvalis, one of the research fellows on the Making Science Public team. In March 2012, tree and plant health became a matter of national concern in Britain following the discovery of an East Asian fungus called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus at a nursery in Buckinghamshire, England. The ash saplings infected by …

Images of the cell in art and science: An update

This is a Guest POST by Maura C. Flannery, Professor of Biology, St. John’s University, NY, reflecting on, what one may call ‘making cells public’ and the interactions between art and science in this process. The blog is related to an images and visualisation project funded by the European Science Foundation, rather than to the …

What role for a scientist in political science communication?

This is a GUEST POST by ATHENE DONALD, Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Cambridge and Master of Churchill College. A couple of months ago Brigitte Nerlich, who hosts this blog, asked me to contribute a post. As it happened, when she sent me the invitation I had just read, and possibly inwardly …

The invisibles: Science, publics and surveys

This is a guest post by two science communication researchers, one working at the University of Otago, New Zealand, the other at the University of Queensland, Australia: Fabien Medvecky and Joan Leach. How much can large-scales surveys tell us about attitudes to science and what can we say about the categories of publics constructed around …

Science, politics and epigenetics

This post by Shea Robison is reposted here with the permission of author. Shea originally posted it on his blog ‘The nexus of epigenetics‘ under the title “Epigenetics Minority Report Part I: Epigenetics, blame, precrime and politics“ *** If you picked up the movie reference in the title to this post, you are likely (hopefully) asking …

Science, sensationalism and the dangers of over-selling research

This is a GUEST POST by FREYA HARRISON. Freya works in Steve Diggle’s group in the Centre for Biomolecular Sciences at the University of Nottingham, where she researches the ecology and evolution of cooperation. She spends most of her time exploring how communication and cooperation help bacteria to cause chronic infections, but she is also …

Making sense in science and in public

Over the last few weeks some of my colleagues within the Institute for Science and Society and the Making Science Public programme (and beyond) have probably got pretty annoyed with me, as I have become a bit argumentative in a debate about science and politics and the line between sense and nonsense. In the following …