UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies is an interdisciplinary centre for the integrated study of science's history, philosophy, sociology, communication and policy, located in the heart of London. Founded in 1921. Award winning for teaching and research, plus for our public engagement programme. Rated as outstanding by students at every level.

At UCL, the academic mission is paramount. Our ambition is to achieve the highest standards in our teaching and research.

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Staff books include:

Gregory - Ancient Greek Cosmogony spacerAthena Swan Bronze Award
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STS news

Radio 4 Today Programme Christmas Eve 2015 - Dr Jack Stilgoe

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Towards the end of 2015, the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee published their report on genetically modified insects. I had been asked to give evidence to the committee in October, not because I knew much about GM insects, but in order to help contextualise their report in previous debates about controversial emerging technologies. Their report, as such reports do, plucked some bits from what I said. But, if it hit some notes, it spectacularly missed the music. The committee’s chair, Lord Selborne, made some balanced comments at the press conference, but the report’s summary and its press release,as Sarah Hartley and I described here, demonstrated a level of blind support that even the scientists involved might be embarrassed by.

You can BANKS on it

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STS announces the award of an AHRC Research Networking Grant in which STS and the National Maritime Museum are the leading partners. 

Irena McCabe (1931-2015)

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STS sadly reports the death of one of our alumni, Dr Irena McCabe (1931-2015), who passed away on 23rd December 2015.

Three STSers publish in special journal issue

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STS is well represented in the latest issues of Studies on History and Philosophy of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences, including papers from a symposium on "Towards future archives and historiographies of ‘big biology’" (here).

Leonard Darwin and Evolutionary Theory

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Dr Norberto Serpente, STS Honorary Research Fellow, has published an article about the contribution of Leonard Darwin to evolutionary theory.

STS lecturer helps with 2015 books

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Did you hear STS's Dr Carina Fearnley on BBC Radio Wales this week?

She was taking part in Science Café. The show focused on their annual review of books in for Xmas.

Colourful work from STS's Simon Werrett

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Special Issue: “Early Modern Color Worlds”

STS's Dr Simon Werrett contributes an essay to a new special issue on the place of colour in early modern science and society. It has commonly been assumed that there were no colours in fireworks prior to the early nineteenth century. In “Fireworks and Color in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries” Werrett shows that this view has overlooked various colour recipes in early modern manuals on fireworks and the uses of colour in painted scenery, decorations and costumes used in early displays. Werrett explores the ingredients that were believed to add colour to fireworks, and the various social, alchemical and medical meanings of colour in early modern pyrotechnics. He also considers why this early modern “colour world” of fireworks was subsequently forgotten.

STS key to UCL Natural Sciences

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Natural Sciences logo


STS now offers two core streams in UCL's Natural Sciences degree

UCAS U80 CFG0 Natural Sciences BSc

PhD success! New discovery published

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Huang-2015

Congratulations to Dr Hsiang-Fu Huang (STS PhD 2015) on the publication of a project resulting from a discovery made during his PhD thesis research. 

Book: Perfectly Correct

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Werrett 2015

Finding the Longitude

STS's Dr Simon Werrett contributes an essay to a new volume on the history of longitude and navigation out this month. In “'Perfectly Correct': Russian Navigators and the Royal Navy,” Werrett explores the history of Russian methods of finding position at sea, and Russian approaches to the discovery of the longitude at sea, one of the great scientific problems of the eighteenth century. The essay appears in Navigational Enterprises in Europe and its Empires, 1730–1850, edited by Rebekah Higgitt and Richard Dunn, and published by Palgrave Macmillan (link).

Stilgoe speaks to Parliament

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STS senior lecturer Dr Jack Stilgoe

STS senior lecturer Dr Jack Stilgoe was called as a witness to the House of Lords Science and Technology committee. The committee are currently conducting and inquiry into the use of genetically modified insects. 

Economics Prize for STS Lecturer Tiago Mata

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STS Lecturer Dr Tiago Mata has been awarded the Clarence Ayres Scholar prize for 2016 by The Association for Evolutionary Economics (AFEE). 

STS awarded BRONZE Athena SWAN

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STS has been awarded a BRONZE award by the Athena SWAN Equality Challenge Unit (link). The bronze award is a certification that STS is engaged in the pursuit of gender equity and has in place commendable practices towards that end. Receipt of this award fits into UCL's Equalities Strategy and is supported by research councils and other research funders across the UK.

Science in Public Conference

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A presentation by UCL STS PhD student Oliver Marsh has been picked as a “stand-out” of the 2015 Science In Public conference.  Hosted by the Science Communication Unit at the UWE, Bristol, the conference brought together around 80 researchers and practitioners for four workshops and 35 presentations dealing with many aspects of ‘science in public’ in its broadest sense.  Oliver’s presentation, entitled Billions and Billions of Likes: Understanding and Representing Online Science Enthusiasm, introduced and discussed various research considerations and methods for dealing with huge datasets produced by online social network sites.  The conference report can be found at https://www.pcst.co/newsitem/8 and a copy of Oliver’s presentation is hosted on https://sidewayslookatscience.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/resources-for-my-presentation-on-researching-large-social-media-sites-science-in-public-uwe-9th-10th-july-2015/ .

Summer Challenge Students 2015-16

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Heroes, Villains and Invisibles

Congratulations to the 13 bright AS-Level students who graduated from this year’s STS Summer Challenge course, Heroes, Villains and Invisibles.

Techno-liberation workshop - video

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call for papers: Technology, Environment and Modern Britain

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Workshop in STS during April 2016

This is a call for papers for a workshop that will explore the intersections of history of technology and environmental history in modern British contexts. “It can be difficult to write environmental history without paying at least passing attention to technology”, noted Jeffrey K. Stine and Joel A. Tarr over a decade ago, in a ground-breaking survey article, “Conversely, it can also be difficult to write technological history without touching on some environmental element”. This entanglement has remained the case even as both historical specialties have explored an increasing diversity of technologies and environments. Yet it is also true to say that both specialties have taken different, perhaps more expansive, trajectories in the United States and continental Europe than in Britain, both as a location for writing and as a topic of study.

Restaging Chemistry

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Simon Werrett (UCL) and Marie Thébaud-Sorger (CNRS) ran an international collaborative workshop on Restaging Chemistry at UCL on Monday July 6, 2015. The project, funded by the Netherlands Scientific Research Organization (NWO) and the project Situating Chemistry 1760-1840 brought together historians, a theatre director, an artist and chemist from Britain and France to consider new directions in the practice of restaging experiments or practices from the history of chemistry. The participants, mostly from UCL and the Centre national de la recherche scientifique in Paris, explored issues such as the nature of past experiences of materials and how to reproduce them, the value of making practices in understanding materials, the uses of theatre and artistic performance for understanding history, and the problems of restaging practices or working with materials we may no longer believe in such as phlogiston or divining rods. Werrett and Thébaud-Sorger plan to develop a research funding bid based on the workshop to explore these issues further. The participants were

An Evening with the Planets

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Professor Steve Miller is organising a summer meeting for the UCL Centre for Planetary Sciences of short, public-orientated talks on planetary science on June 24 (6pm drinks, 6:30pm event, 8:00pm drinks) in the Marquee in the UCL Front Quad. Amongst other great things, our very own MSc student Minna Nygren and her colleague Catherine Kontz have composed a waltz for Pluto and Charon (Pluto's moon) to coincide with the arrival of NASA's New Horizon's spacecraft at Pluto; June 24th will be the premier of this musical piece.  Sounds like a wonderful evening.  

Newton on the Eye

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On Thursday June 11, Dr. Simon Werrett will be speaking on the subject of Isaac Newton’s time in London as Warden of the Mint and President of the Royal Society. The talk is part of the "32 Londoners" festival to be held on the London Eye at Southbank. 32 lectures will be happening inside the London Eye, each lasting for one rotation. The talks celebrate famous individuals who have had deep connections to London.

STS staff speak at the WHO

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On 21st May 2015, Prof. Brian Balmer and STS alumni, Dr Caitriona McLeish (University of Sussex), participated in the 88th Global Health Histories seminar at the World Health Organisation (WHO), Geneva.   They spoke about the research coming from their AHRC funded collaborative project, with Dr Alex Spelling (STS), on the history of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).  The BWC is the treaty that outlaws the use of disease as a weapon of war and was negotiated in the late 1960s and early 1970s.   Their talk concentrated on the media coverage of biological weapons during this period and on the role of the WHO in providing expert advice to the negotiating process.  Dr Maurizio Barbeschi, Preparedness, Mass Gatherings and Deliberate Events Team, WHO also spoke about his experience of investigating allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria.  The event was attended by 40 WHO staff and interns and was scheduled to coincide with the 68th World Health Assembly meeting in Geneva.

Fully-funded PhD Studentship

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Following the award of a Collaborative Doctoral Partnership to us, with the Royal Society, full funding is available for a PhD degree at UCL on the topic of 

STS workshop on "scale" is big success

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The Department hosted a one-day workshop, “On Being the Right Size: Science, Technology and Scale” on Wednesday April 29, exploring issues of scale in science and technology studies. With contributions from scholars in Philosophy of Science, History of Science, Science Policy, Materials Science, Architecture, Photography and Science Communication the event presented a variety of perspectives on the question of scale.

STS PGTAs Shine at the Teaching and Learning Conference 2015

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Current STS PhD students Elizabeth Jones and Harriet Lloyd received a strong reception at UCL’s recent Teaching and Learning conference https://www.ucl.ac.uk/calt/events/tlconference15.   Speaking as part of a session bringing together innovative teaching practices across UCL, Hattie and Liz focused on their experiences of being PGTAs (Post-Graduate Teaching Assistants) on the department’s first year module HPSC1008 Fundamentals of Science Communication  http://www.ucl.ac.uk/sts/study/hpsc/2014-15_syllabi/HPSC1008_Module_syllabus_2014-15.  Led this year by STS tutors Karen Bultitude and Steve Miller, this interdisciplinary course provides an introduction to key concepts in science communication, and is open to students from a wide range of disciplines including human sciences, chemical engineering and of course our own STS cohort.

STS Invited to the UN in Geneva

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In the Department of Science & Technology Studies, Brian Balmer, Professor of Science Policy Studies, and Alex Spelling, Research Associate in Cold War History, are working on a project:  ‘Understanding Biological Disarmament: The Historical Context of the Biological Weapons Convention’, in conjunction with STS alum (1996) Dr CaitrÍona McLeish at the Science Policy Research Unit - University of Sussex, and the Harvard-Sussex Programme. The three year project overlaps with the 40th anniversary of the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention (known as the BWC) entering into force on 26th March 1975. From this date, biological warfare was banned under international law. The anniversary is of particular significance as the BWC has been called the world’s first genuine multilateral disarmament treaty: it prohibited an entire class of weapons from development, production and possession, rather than merely limiting or preventing nations acquiring certain weapons or provisions relating to use. Review conferences for members have been held every five years since it entered into force and work continues from Geneva to strengthen and develop its provisions.

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