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Dr Melanie Smallman

Dr Melanie Smallman

Associate Professor

Dept of Science & Technology Studies

Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Nov 2013

Research summary

Melanie's research focuses on the social impacts of science and technology and how these impacts shape public views around new and emerging technologies and public policy. In particular, Melanie is interested in the role of science and innovation (particularly AI and data driven technologies) in increasing economic inequality, how this affects public attitudes and how this can be accounted for in ethical frameworks and public policy. Melanie's research was recently profiled in a Nature article about researchers looking at inequality. 

Melanie is currently a Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute where she has been developing a 'Multiscale Ethics' framework to help bring the sociological effects of advanced data-driven technologies like AI into ethical evaluations. She has also been co-I of the AHRC funded project "UK Pandemic Ethics Accelerator", leading the project's work on data ethics and is a member of UCL's Research Ethics Committee.

Melanie was also PI and Co-I on two recently completed Horizon2020 projects (SISCODE and SCALINGS) which looked at the potential of co-design to engage wider voices in technology and policy development.

Melanie's Phd thesis examined the impact on policy of ten years of public dialogue on science and technology.

Teaching summary

In 2022-23 Academic year Melanie is co-Director of the new MSc Science Communication and will be teaching:

Term 1

  • Sociology of Science (Y 2)

  • Science Communication in a Global Context (MSc Science Communication)

  • Science in Policy (Graduate school workshop)

Term 2

  • Research Methods and data (MSc)
  • Science Communication and Social Justice (MSc Science Communication)
  • Undergraduate dissertation supervisions

Term 3

  • MSc Students dissertation supervision

Melanie is Chair of the Board of Examiners for the Department of Science and Technology Studies.

As the first person in her family to go to university, Melanie is always keen to support students from similar backgrounds and is happy to discuss the experience of being a first generation student.

PhD Student Supervision

  • Cecilie Hilmer

  • Mengxi Zhang

  • Rokia Ballo

(Please note - I am currently at full capacity for PhD student supervision until 2024-25 academic year)

Education

University College London
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), ATQ03 - Recognised by the HEA as a Fellow | 2018
University College London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2015
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
Other higher degree, Master of Science/Diploma of Imperial College | 1993
University of Warwick
First Degree, Bachelor of Science (Honours) | 1992

Biography

Dr Melanie Smallman is Associate Professor in Science and Technology Studies and Co-Director of UCL's Responsible Research and Innovation Hub and a Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute. Melanie's research looks at the role of science and innovation (particularly data-technologies and AI) in increasing inequality, and how the social impacts of these technologies can be included in ethical considerations. She grew up in South Wales and was the first person in her family to go to University.

Melanie is also Co-Director of UCL's new MSc in Science Communication and founder & Director of the UK's first science communication consultancy, Think-Lab. Through this, she has led a number of innovative science communication and science policy projects, including  7 years as 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. She also helped establish the International Falling Walls Engage competition to find the world's best public engagement project, and currently chairs the judging jury.


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.

Publications