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Synthetic biology, engineering biology and responsible innovation

Between about 2014 and 2018 I have been involved in the social and communications side of ‘synthetic biology’. I was especially interested in synthetic biology with relation to ‘responsible innovation’ or ‘responsible research and innovation’ or RRI (here are some blog posts). Since then other issues have pre-occupied my mind and I lost a bit …

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A Whole New (re-cycled) World? An interdisciplinary conversation about the Circular Economy, Synthetic Biology and Sustainability Goals

This is a guest post by Penny Polson, Carmen McLeod, Sarah Hartley and Eleanor Hadley Kershaw *** Introduction to the Circular Economy The notion of a ‘circular economy’ has been gaining a lot of traction lately. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in particular, has raised the profile of this radical rethinking of how consumer goods are …

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Synthetic biology: Modelling joys and fears brick by brick

Carmen McLeod, Stevienna de Saille and I recently published an article in which we used findings from a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® workshop to show that scientists’ (synthetic biologists’) views of risk and responsibility are much more ‘societal’ than one might expect. This means, involving them in a new form of science governance (RRI), which itself involves new …

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Synthetic Biology, Metaphors and Responsibility

Nottingham Synthetic Biology Research Centre Symposium: Title: Metaphors, Synthetic Biology and Responsibility Time: Monday, 22 May 2017 Place: East Midlands Conference Centre, University of Nottingham Event information and booking Overview Metaphors are not just decorative rhetorical devices that make speech pretty. They are fundamental linguistic and cognitive tools for thinking about the world and acting …

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Origins of life; origins of synthetic biology

I was sitting on a train to London the other day reading a fascinating article on the early history of synthetic biology. In this post I just want to share some interesting insights I gleaned from that paper, as it’s always a good thing to know a bit more about the history of a field …

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Synthetic Biology and Responsible Language Use: An anthology of blog posts

Over the last couple of years I have written quite a few blog posts on synthetic biology and responsible research and innovation, focusing in particular on the use of metaphors in both science and policy/politics. I have now assembled them, DIY fashion, into a little ‘booklet’. If anybody has the time and/or inclination to do …

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Synthetic biology, metaphors and ethics: An emerging topic of international interest

As some of you know, I have been interested in metaphors for a long time and more recently have become intrigued by metaphors used when talking about synthetic biology, gene drives, gene editing and so on. This has led to a meeting in Cambridge (Downing College) between Steven Burgess, who edits the PLOS Synbio community …

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Synthetic biology comes to Nottingham (ESRC Festival of Social Science)

On Monday we are convening a public debate about synthetic biology and responsible research and innovation as part of the ESRC’s Festival of Social Science. You are all welcome to join us! Us means: Adam Rutherford as chair, Hilary Sutcliffe, Andrew Balmer, Klaus Winzer and Peter Licence on the panel (see brochure) and myself as …

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Synthetic Biology; or the Modern Prometheus

When waiting for a plane, I was randomly musing about synthetic biology, responsible innovation and stories – this is the result. Once upon a time there were Mary Shelley and her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley. Mary wrote Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus (first published in 1818; now available in twitter-form, as tweeted by Katie Reeves); …

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