The Department of Science and Technology Studies, UCL 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:

Morris - The Role and Contribution of Volunteers in Biomedical Research

STS news

Farewell Jo Pearson

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Pearson, Jo

STS announces the departure of Ms Jo Pearson, our academic administrator. She is taking up a post elsewhere in UCL, in Department of Medical Physics and biomedical Engineering. Jo joined STS in January 2009. She leaves STS at the end of August 2014.

Two STS staff promoted

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UCL senior promotions have been announced (here).

Undergraduate Prizes 2014

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The Department of Science & Technology Studies is delighted to announce the following prize-winners for the 2013/14 academic year. Congratulations to all!

Awe Fear and Fireworks

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For the Fourth of July, Simon Werrett writes in the New York Daily News on how emotional reactions to fireworks displays have changed over the centuries:

STS Contributes to Science Policy

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What Role Can Social Media Play In Science Policy?

Last week saw UCL Science and Technology Studies host the first in a series of new events run in association with the Guardian Science Policy Blogs.  The event – a discussion on the topic of ‘what role can social media play in science policy?’ – fought off stiff competition from football (Germany vs Portugal) to attract a sizeable audience from across academic, media, and public sectors.  The intention was to provide a discussion based in empirical experience of social media and science policy.  The first two speakers therefore provided us with the stories behind two significant events on this topic.  Síle Lane, Director of Campaigns at Sense about Science, opened with the Libel Reform campaign of 2009-2013.  Social media was used initially to connect groups who shared concerns about risks of defamation – writers and celebrities, as well as scientists – into an online voice for libel reform.  Building on this, campaigners then used social media to attract over 60,000 signatories to a petition, as well to disseminate pro-libel reform arguments, activities, and stories.  Síle was followed by Jenny Rohn, a cell biologist at UCL and founder of Science is Vital.  This group originated in 2010 with a blog post from Jenny in response to threatened science budget cuts.  With only four weeks to act social media was essential to acquire rapid support for a petition and a ‘No More Doctor Nice Guy’ rally.  Despite the different aims and timescales of the two campaigns, there were a great many common features.  Both noted the importance of social media to reach a very diverse range of people extremely quickly, and in making connections between interested parties (including politicians) easy to create – even if just in the form of useful links.  But both also noted the importance of offline activities: Sense About Science worked with the mantra ‘a hashtag is not a campaign’ to encourage supporters to write letters to MPs and keep spreading word-of-mouth information; Science is Vital were careful to maintain links with traditional media outlets.  This portion of discussion also ended with a cautious note about ‘petition fatigue’ – when social media makes campaigning easier, any single campaign risks getting lost in the noise.

The Closed Loop

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STS Teaching Fellow Stephanie Eichberg reflects on an Innovative play staged by UCL Biosciences students.

STS Research Day 2014

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STS Research Day will take place on Wednesday May 28, 2014 from 9.45 am to 5.00pm in Room B02, Chandler House, 2, Wakefield St. There will be a variety of presentations from staff, PhD students and Honorary Research Fellows of the Department. Topics range between the history, philosophy and social studies of science. All welcome.

Students notice excellence

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STS congratulates two among us nominated for UCLU’s Student Choice Teaching Awards:

Outstanding Teaching

New paper: Harvey, Aristotle, Astrology

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ANDREW GREGORY. 2014. William Harvey, Aristotle and astrology in BJHS 47(2):199-215 (link)

Emotions, Transformations, Restorations

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 The first in a series of workshops devoted to exploring the emotions and mateiral culture took place on Monday April 28 at UCL’s Institute of Making. The event, organized by Simon Werrett (UCL), Anna Maerker (King’s College London) and Leonie Hannan (UCL) brought together a dozen participants from around the UK to explore the emotions evoked by medical and surgical experiences. Roger Kneebone (Imperial College London) and the artist and sculptor Matthew Lane Sanderson presented to the group, and everyone participated in activities ranging from simulated surgery to copper wire sculpting. Participants will blog on their experiences at the ETR website, which also includes photos and video of the event.

The website can be accessed at this address:

STS Trip! War Rooms & Banquetting House 

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War Rooms (clockwise from top-left): an electric cigarette lighter, weather signs, Chiefs of Staff conference room, a wax figure of Churchill on the phone in the Transatlantic Telephone Room.

By Raquel Velho

Continuing our department’s recent trend (having visited Bletchley Park in November), the first sunny weekend of March had us walking around Westminster in the City of London to visit the Churchill War Rooms and Banqueting Hall. Each place holds a fascinating place in British history in general, and in the history of science particularly. 

Wonderments of the Cosmos

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Dr. Andrew Gregory will be giving a talk to the ‘Wonderments of the Cosmos’ research group on Tuesday 18th March, Room 1.02. Malet Place Engineering Building (same building as the Institute of Making), 5pm. The talk will be on ‘How ubiquitous are cosmological questions (and answers)?’ The group is very widely based and the talk will be very accessible.

All welcome.
To attend, please register at:

STS explores science on a pagan planet

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An Evening with Professor Michael Ruse

Thanks to those who joined us for an evening's discussion with Professor Michael Ruse (Lucycle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University), led by STS's Dr Chiara Ambrosio. Ruse is the author of the new book on James Lovelock, Lynn Margulis, and others involved in developing the Gaia concept. Why does the public find such appeal in the Gaia hypothesis? Why do so many scientists react aggressively (not simply rejecting the view, but adding an unusual layer of invective to their opposition)? Ruse believes there are deeper themes to be found when studying this reception, and there are lessons to learn about the priorities we have in our research.

PhD Conference Review. September - January.

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By Oliver Marsh.

BSA STS Conference – ‘Working together? STS, collaboration and (multi)disciplinarity’

8th London Ancient Science Conference

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 The 8th London Ancient Science Conference, sponsored by STS, took place on 17th and 18th February. There were 25 papers with scholars coming from France, Italy, Germany, Ireland, Canada and the USA. Dr. Andrew Gregory (STS) poke on Anaximander: Astronomy and Cosmology and Hugh McKenzie spoke on Plato. The conference was concluded with a reception and a launch for Dr. Gregory’s The Presocratics and the Supernatural. The conference was sponsored by grants from STS, The Institute of Classical Studies and the BSHS. The 9th London Ancient Science Conference will take place on 16th and 17th February 2015 with sponsorship from STS and The Institute of Classical Studies.

Vacancy: Lecturer in Science & Technology Studies

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UCL's Department of Science and Technology Studies seeks to appoint a full time Lecturer in Science and Technology Studies.
The closing date for applications is Wednesday 5th March 2014. It is hoped the successful candidate will join us from September 1st 2014.

STS Prof Hits 4 Million

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STS Professor Donald Gillies (Professor Emeritus in Philosophy of Science) is a clever academic. He's also a lucky one. This week, he's been told one of his research papers was the 4 millionth download from UCL's open access system, UCL Discovery. His much-sought-after publication:

Vacancy: Lecturer in Science Communication

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UCL's Department of Science and Technology Studies seeks to appoint a full time Lecturer in Science Communication.

PhD Studentship: Making the Oceans Visible

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Science and Technology on the Challenger Expedition (1872-1876)

Following the award of an AHRC collaborative doctoral studentship to Dr. Simon Werrett (UCL) and Dr Heloise Finch-Boyer (National Maritime Museum) for “Making the Oceans Visible: Science and Technology on the Challenger Expedition (1872-1876)” a 3-year fully funded AHRC studentship at UCL is available. The successful candidate will be expected to carry out research for a doctorate in the Department of Science and Technology Studies, supervised by Dr Simon Werrett (STS) and Dr Heloise Finch-Boyer (NMM). The student will undertake research at the National Maritime Museum and other London museums and archives.

STS Prof in award-winning book

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Cain 2013 Cambridge Encyclopedia of Darwin and Evolution

Professor Joe Cain (@profjoecain) has had news that the 2013 volume, Cambridge History of Darwin and Evolutionary Thought (publisher), in which his essay on "Synthesis Period in Evolution" appears, has won the 2013 PROSE award (single-volume humanities/social science reference work, link). 

UCL Donors help fund a forgotten treatment for TB

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Dr Friedrich Weleminsky

UCL donors John and Ann – Margaret Walton have made possible research to progress the understanding of tuberculomucin, a potential alternative treatment for TB that was invented before the Second World War.

The research taking place at the UCL Divisions of Infection and Immunity, and Medicine along with the UCL Department of Science & Technology Studies aims to explore the mode of action of tuberculomucin to assess its viability as an alternative treatment for TB. Dr Friedrich Weleminsky (pictured) developed it as a possible cure for TB in the early 20th Century. Historians and scientists will work together to understand the history of tuberculomucin as a TB treatment in the pre-antibiotic period and its possible application today.

Our research so far indicates that tuberculomucin had potential, but the start of the Second World War and discovery of antibiotics meant that the treatment was “lost”. In 2011, UCL was approached by Dr Weleminsky’s granddaughter, Dr Charlotte Jones, a retired GP who described her grandfather's treatment for TB. Today, certain strains of TB are now becoming resistant to the antibiotics we use to treat them, and alternative approaches need to be found urgently.

The generous gift from the Waltons will continue driving this project forward to identify new ways of treating TB, which after HIV/AIDS is the second largest single infectious agent in the world, affecting nearly 9 million people per year and killing more than 1 million.

‘Tuberculomucin – a forgotten treatment – may give us a powerful new method of combatting this ancient but continually burdensome disease which has always claimed more lives amongst the young and economically active than any other age group’ Dr Carole Reeves, UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies.

Using the information provided by Dr Charlotte Jones, the expertise of UCL academics and a very generous donation from John and Ann – Margaret Walton, UCL can now progress research into tuberculomucin and give TB patients hope for the future.

Image: Dr Friedrich Weleminsky courtesy of Dr Charlotte Jones.

New Paper: The Science of Destruction:

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Terrorism and Technology in the Nineteenth Century, by Simon Werrett

Why should we promote public engagement with science?

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STS's Jack Stilgoe and Simon Lock have, with James Wilsdon from Sussex University, edited a special issue of the journal Public Understanding of Science. They have gathered may of the leading figures in Science and Technology Studies, including Helga Nowotny, Sheila Jasanoff, David Guston, Brian Wynne and Alan Irwin, to discuss the question, "Why should we promote public engagement with science?" The full set of papers is here. Simon and Jack's piece is Open Access. 

New Careers Podcasts

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STS has released 2 more careers podcasts from the careers podcast series. Check them out on the podcasts section of the STS Careers webpage:

Vacancy: Project Co-ordinator

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The Department of Science and Technology Studies wishes to appoint Project Co-ordinator to work on the ‘Emotions, Transformations, Restorations’ project being run jointly by STS and the Institute of Making. The successful applicant would be assisting the project leads, Dr Simon Werrett (STS) and Dr Leoni Hannan (History and Museums and Public Engagement) to set up and co-ordinate a series of workshops. The appointment will be part-time at approximately 135 hours over the period February – July 2014. Hours are negotiable, but the successful candidate would be expected to commence work immediately. 

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