April 20, 2018, by Brigitte Nerlich

Making Science Public: Six years on

It’s coming up to May 2018. In May 2012 we started our five-year Making Science Public Project, which was funded by the Leverhulme Trust. I directed the programme between May 2012 and October 2016. I then retired and Sujatha Raman took over as director. The project had a non-cost extension for a year and now we are wrapping up and looking forward….

We held our end-of-programme conference in June 2016 and published our team-led book in January this year with Manchester University Press: Science and the Politics of Openness: Here be Monsters (open access version here).

There will be a cross-cutting workshop in June and cross-cutting papers are being written up as we speak. I am looking forward to seeing those! The workshop on 5-6 June will be about ‘Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as environmental phenomenon: What can environmental STS contribute at the science/policy interface?’.

We, i.e. at least Sujatha, will also be present in Sydney at the 4S conference at the end of the summer with an STS beyond borders exhibit – more about that in a future post!

The team: past and future

Team members, especially the research fellows, are now dispersed all over the UK and beyond, continuing work inspired by the programme or branching out in different directions. I think it’s worth celebrating what they are all doing and giving everybody a chance to stay in touch. In my brief updates below, I’ll largely follow the order of our initial projects to report on developments.

Harinee Selvadurai, our wonderful programme manager, is now Centre Manager at the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Carbon Capture and Storage and Cleaner Fossil Energy at the Faculty of Engineering here at the University of Nottingham.

Theme 1: Transparency, Expertise and Evidence in Policymaking

Sujatha Raman, is just about to take up a post as Reader and Director of Research at The Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science (CPAS) in Brisbane, Australia. Judith Tsouvalis, who worked with Sujatha on the project (1.1) ‘Models of Managing Science/Politics Boundaries’, and who also contributed to research undertaken by Susanne Seymour and Carole Morris, has taken up a post as Research Fellow within the Geography Department at the University of Sheffield to look into Brexit and the environment, a serious issue!

Susanne Seymour, now Deputy Director of the University of Nottingham’s Institute for the Study of Slavery, and Carol Morris (who collaborates with Sujatha on a project relating to antimicrobial resistance and agriculture, funded by NERC) worked with Adam Spencer on the project (1.2) ‘Research agendas for food provisioning: UK framing practices and science-policy interactions’. Adam has become an independent teacher.

Vivien Lowndes, who led the project (1.3) on ‘Making evidence public in policy making’, moved to the University of Birmingham (the Institute of Local Government Studies), and Roda Madziva, who worked on that project, is now Assistant Professor at the School of Sociology and Social Policy, here at Nottingham.

Theme 2: Science, Publics and the Making of Politics

Alexander Smith, who carried out his own project (2.1) ‘Science, religion and the making of publics in the US and UK’, still works at the University of Warwick and his book Democracy begins at home: political moderation in Red State America (Lawrence, KS: The University Press of Kansas) is coming out soon.

Pru-Hobson West (who is currentlu involved in a collaborative ’animal nexus’ project funded by the Wellcome Trust) led the project (2.2) on ‘Animals and the making of scientific knowledge’. Carmen McLeod who worked on that project went on to collaborate with me at the University of Nottingham BBSRC funded Synthetic Biology Research Centre, then branched out into the microbiome at the University of Oxford, and has just come back to the SBRC as a Senior Research Fellow. So, we are working together again!

Warren Pearce, who worked with me on the project (2.3) ‘Science, scepticism and politics’ (with relation to climate change) is now a Faculty Fellow at the University of Sheffield and leads his own ESRC-funded programme of research: Making Climate Social. He also carried out cross-cutting research with Sujatha and others on expertise, science advice and more.

Theme 3: Public Engagement and Deliberation within Science and Technology

Kate Millar led the project (3.1) on ‘Novel Food Technologies and Deliberative Technology Assessment’. Sarah Hartley, who undertook research both with Kate and me, is now Senior Lecturer in Management at the University of Exeter and currently leads a project, funded by the British Academy, on ‘Co-production Across Disciplines and Borders: The Case of Gene Drive Mosquitoes in the UK and Mali’.

Alison Mohr, who worked on her own project (3.2) ‘The role of intermediaries in deliberating science and politics’, continues her collaboration with colleagues at the University of Loughborough on case studies of community energy access for socio-economic development in Kenya and Bangladesh.

Paul Martin is still at the University of Sheffield (but to his relief no longer head of school), where he was joined by Stevienna de Saille, who now works within Paul’s iHuman research group, to which Warren also belongs. During the life-time of the Making Science Public programme, Stevie carried out research for the project (3.3) ‘Publics and the Making of Socially Responsible Research and Innovation’ – a topic that became quite an overarching one for our programme.


Eleanor Hadley Kershaw, one of our PhD students, working on the issue of co-production in the context of Future Earth, passed her viva without corrections and will soon be flying the nest! At the moment she is employed as a Research Associate within the Making Science Public programme to work with Sujatha on a cross-cutting theme, namely antimicrobial resistance.

Clio Cartelet, our other PhD student on the programme, working with Kate, Pru and Sujatha on animals and AMR and RRI, has finished her field work and is writing up.

Apart from our joint book, we have published numerous reports and peer-reviewed papers, many more than are compiled in this list.

The blog

As for the blog…. I have now written 320 posts and more than 400 posts have been published overall. In the past I tended to write one post a week, but that will change. In the future I’ll only write posts once in a while at random times (but, as usual, about random topics).  I am always open to proposals for guest posts!

Keep in touch

I want to invite all those I have talked about here to tell me more about what they are doing – you can use the comments function for that! I have certainly forgotten some things or got some things wrong! People (and their research) have moved on a lot since I retired and it’s difficult to keep track of it all!



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