Science and Technology Studies


STS offers degrees at each university level: undergraduate, masters, and PhD

Dr Cian O'Donovan

Dr Cian O'Donovan

Research Associate

Dept of Science & Technology Studies

Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL
21st Aug 2018

Research summary

With colleagues at UCL and led by the Technical University of Munich, I have recently begun work on the EU Horizon 2020 project, Scaling up Co-Creation: Avenues and Limits for Integrating Society in Science and Innovation (SCALINGS).


University of Sussex
PhD, Science and Technology Policy Studies | 2016
Royal Holloway
MSc, Sustainability and Technology Policy | 2010
Trinity College Dublin
BA, Information Technology | 2001


I am a researcher at UCL's Department of Science and Technology Studies. My core interest is how innovation is directed towards, and often away from, social progress. My research interests include automation, technology and democracy; the role of politics and institutions in innovation and social change; and cultures of knowledge making, practises and research methods.

Before joining UCL's STS Department, I worked at SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex. Most recently with colleagues Adrian Smith and Ed Steinmueller I examined automation and digital fabrication technologies by mapping the happiness of makers, coders and craftspeople with respect to the tools they use, such as 3D printers, digital CNC, laser cutters and CAD/CAM. This work was part of Responsible Innovation and Happiness: A New Approach to the Effects of ICTs with colleagues at SPRU and TIK Centre (Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture) at the University of Oslo.

Previously I was Research Coordinator of The ESRC Nexus Network. As well as coordinating research activities of the Network, I carried out research on the inter- and trans-disciplinary capabilities and capacities generated by the Network over its four year lifespan.

My PhD thesis, co-funded by the ESRC and the University of Sussex, examined the emergence of low-carbon innovation systems in new locations. Specifically I looked at the growth of wind energy in Ireland over a 25 year period and asked why and how some countries are capable of “rapid catch-up” despite a low scale indigenous industrial base.

Previously, I was technology director at 38 Degrees, the UK's largest people powered campaigning movement where I occasionally advise on technology policy and political advocacy. I am the founding chairperson of Uplift, the people powered organisation for change in Ireland where I retain a board role focussed on governance and strategy. I tweet here: @cian.