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Smallman, Melanie

Melanie Smallman

About

I am a research and teaching associate in science and technology studies and Deputy Director of the Responsible Research and Innovation hub at UCL, part of the European RRI Tools project.

My research is interested in how the public form views around new and emerging science and technology, the impact of these views on public policy and how expert advice is conceived and used in policymaking. I am also developing new research around the role of science and technology in increasing economic inequality, how this is affecting perceptions of science and technology and what alternative innovation models are available for more inclusive growth.  Methodologically, I love big data and use computer assisted text analysis techniques to unearth discourses and imaginaries buried in documents over long time or geographic scales. For example, my PhD examined the impact on policy of ten years’ of public dialogue on science and technology. Links to recent papers and presentations are below.

I like to be useful as well as thoughtful, so my research and teaching is firmly grounded in practice and draw heavily on the experience, knowledge and networks I developed in my previous career as a science communication and policy specialist.  I often invite my former colleagues into the classroom, to bring our subjects to life and to give students the chance to make contact with future employers.  I also like to make sure that my research has impact on policymakers and practitioners and so write regular blogs, briefings and opinion pieces – links to some of these are below.

I am co-convenor of the London PUS Seminar Series, a member of the International Scientific Committee of the Public Communication in Science and Technology (PCST) Network, a member of the society for the Social Studies of Science, a Fellow of the RSA and a former Fellow in the Science, Technology and Society Programme at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Alongside my academic work, I am founder and Director of the UK's first science communication consultancy, Think-Lab, which has led a number of innovative science communication and science policy projects. For 8 years we provided communications advice to Defra's chief scientific adviser, where, tasked with rebuilding public confidence in Defra’s use of science in the aftermath of the BSE crisis, I led and managed a small team who developed and implemented a strategy to change the backdrop against which Defra crises took place, to improve the way in which crises were dealt with and to communicate those changes more widely. I was also Project Director of SmallTalk, organising a series of public dialogue events on nanotechnology and was a Dialogue and Engagement Specialist for ScienceWise, specialising in using mainstream and digital media to encourage debate. I was a member of the Nanotechnology engagement group, which provided advice to the UK government and has also advised the OECD and the European Commission on nanotechnology policy.

I am also passionate about environmental and energy policy, and the power of politics to change the world. In my spare time, I am Chair of SERA, the environment campaign and  have worked closely with politicians on environmental policy development both in government and opposition – for example I co-wrote a book on community energy with former shadow energy minister Caroline Flint MP.  I am a member of the Labour Party’s National Policy Forum, was an elected councillor in London for 10 years and a parliamentary candidate in 2005.

Publications and presentations

Peer Reviewed Papers
Articles
Other Publications
Conference Papers


blog
Melanie Smallman

Twitter
@melaniesmallman

Dr Melanie Smallman

Dr Melanie Smallman

Appointments

  • Lecturer
    Dept of Science & Technology Studies
    Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL

2013-11-01

Melanie's research looks at how the public form views around new and emerging science and technology, the impact of these views on public policy and how expert advice is conceived and used in policymaking. Her Phd thesis examined the impact on policy of ten years of public dialogue on science and technology.


Melanie is also interested in the role of science and innovation in increasing economic inequality, how this is affecting perceptions of science and technology and what alternative innovation models are available for more inclusive growth.  


Award year Qualification Institution
1992 BSc Hons
Bachelor of Science (Honours)
Virology
University of Warwick

Dr Melanie Smallman is a Lecturer in Science and Technology Studies and Deputy Director of UCL's Responsible Research and Innovation Hub.

Melanie is also founder and Director of the UK's first science communication consultancy, Think-Lab, and has led a number of innovative science communication and science policy projects. For 8 years she was a communications advisor to Defra's Chief Scientific Adviser, tasked with rebuilding public confidence in Defra's use of science in the aftermath of BSE and foot and mouth disease. At Defra, she led and managed a small team of communication professionals who developed and implemented a communications strategy that aimed to change the media backdrop against which Defra crises took place, to improve the way in which crises were dealt with and to communicate those changes more widely. Melanie was also Project Director of SmallTalk, organising a series of public dialogue events on nanotechnology, and was a Dialogue and engagement specialist for ScienceWise, specialising in using mainstream and digital media to encourage debate. She was a member of the Nanotechnology engagement group which provided advice to the UK government and has also advised the OECD and the European commission on nanotechnology policy.

Melanie is also Chair of environmental campaign SERA and is committed to engaging the public in issues around air quality. Through this role, she has worked closely with politicians on environmental policy development both in government and opposition. She has co-written a book on community energy with former shadow energy minister Caroline Flint MP and is a member of Labour's National Policy Forum. She was a Councillor in London for 10 years and a parliamentary candidate in 2005.

Melanie has a PhD in Science and Technology Studies from UCL, an MSc in Science Communication from Imperial College London and a BSc(hons) in Microbiology and Virology from the University of Warwick.  She is a former Fellow for the Science, Technology and Society Programme at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) in 2016.