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
Smallman (2014) Public Understanding of Science in turbulent times III: Deficit to dialogue, champions to critics
Simon J. Lock, , Melanie Smallman, Maria Lee, Yvonne Rydin (2014) “Nuclear energy sounded wonderful 40 years ago”: UK citizen views on CCS. Energy Policy Volume 66, March 2014, Pages 428–435.
Enscot (2003) The European Network of Science Communication Teachers. Public Understanding of Science 12: 161-183.
Out of the loop: why lay views of science are heard but not obeyed. Research Fortnight February 2015 (£)
Can science be part of the solution if it is part of the problem? Guardian, February 2015
We need a Science Fit for the Challenges of Our Future Guardian 2 August 2013.
Let's be Clear about Science Education and Engagement (with Simon Lock). Guardian 8 July 2013.
Beyond the ringfence Research Fortnight 28 March 2013.
View from the top: In Mammon we trust. Could banker bonuses benefit research? Research fortnight 15 February 2012
View of the budget: The ‘safeguarded’ science budget provides no safety at all. Research Fortnight 16 March 2011
Greens bury their heads in sands of technology. Research fortnight, October 2011.
- Other Publications
Smallman, M., Lomme, K., Faullimmel, N. (2015) Report on the analysis of opportunities, obstacles and needs of the stakeholder groups in RRI Practices in Europe. RRI Tools Project.
Smallman, M (2012) ‘Changing our Relationship with Power’. Chapter in ‘The Power Book’ published by the Cooperative Party
Lincoln, P., Jöborn, A., Smallman M., Thornber, K. and Westberg L.(Alphabetical author list). (2010). An Assessment of the Lessons learned in the communication and dissemination of emerging scientific issues to environmental policymakers. Environment Agency, UK.
Smallman, M (2009). Getting Heard - A Writing Guide for Scientists and Engineers in Government. Government Office of Science, Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.
Smallman, M (2009). Working with the Media. Sciencewise Expert Resource Centre, Department of Business Innovation and Skills.
Smallman, M., Nieman, A. (2006) SmallTalk, Lessons in discussing nanotechnologies.
- Conference Papers
Responsible Research and Innovation in the UK: the post-Brexit Future. Keynote address at ‘RRI After Brexit’ meeting, London, September 2016.
Size as well as spread matters: How UK innovation policy's focus on growth has created new policy deficits elsewhere. 4S/EAST meeting, September 2016, Barcelona.
How an elite sociotechnical imaginary underpins policy resistance to public perspectives on science and technology. Science and Democracy Network, June 2016, London.
Expertise and Democracy: The role of values in science and public policy. Society for the Social Studies of Science, Denver, November 2015.
What impact has 10 years of public dialogue had on public policy in the UK? London Public Understanding of Science Seminar, February 2015.
Public and expert views of new and emerging technologies. Public Communication of Science and Technology (PCST), Salvadore, Brazil, May 2014.
Science and uncertainty in policy: the case of Bovine TB. Public Communication of Science and Technology (PCST), Salvadore, Brazil, May 2014.
The problem with symmetry of learning in public dialogue about nanotechnology. Science in Public Conference. London, UK July 2012
Lessons learned in the communication and dissemination of emerging scientific issues to environmental policymakers. PCST 2010, Delhi, India.
Smalltalk: Discussions between scientists and the public. OECD Conference on Nanotechnology and the Public, Delft October 2008.
Communicating environmental science in digital media. Communicate Conference, Bristol. October 2008.
Influencing policy. British Science Association Science Communicators Conference 2005.
Dept of Science & Technology Studies
Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences
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.
Bachelor of Science (Honours)
|University of Warwick|