I am a PhD student at the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, University of Manchester. I am also affiliated to the Sustainable Industrial Systems (SIS) group within the School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science and am a member of the Responsible Research and Innovation group in the Manchester Synthetic Biology Research Centre (SynBioChem). My PhD is entitled Constructive sustainability assessment: implementing a responsible research and innovation approach for synthetic biology” and my supervisors are Professor Philip Shapira and Dr Laurence Stamford. Through my research I am developing ways to carry out sustainability assessments of emerging technologies like synthetic biology and low-technology readiness levels in a manner that is in line with the principles of responsible research and innovation. Thorough application and testing of my approaches in a variety of contexts will culminate in a framework for constructive sustainability assessment.
My PhD situates me at the interface of the natural and social sciences, which I think is essential when studying the complex and “wicked” challenge of sustainability. On the one hand I develop and apply techniques typical such as process modelling and life-cycle methods for evaluating sustainability of specific products. Meanwhile I also engage in deliberative activities and other qualitative methods more typical of the social sciences, exploring the process through which we carry out sustainability assessments.
I started the PhD after doing a BA in Natural Sciences and a MSci in Systems Biology, both at the University of Cambridge. By shifting fields I have been able to look at the “bigger picture” of science, and study how scientific and technological developments can impact on the environment and wider society. After completing my PhD I want to continue to build on this work, helping to link science with society, and help ensure that science delivers on the promises it makes.
Outside of my PhD research I remain facinated by biology and passionate about sustainability. I enjoy pretty much any physical activity, whether it be running, hiking, squash, skiing.
I am currently involved in a number of research projects, some of which relate to continuing research from my undergraduate and masters studies, others directly to my PhD, or to side-projects:
- Generating, annotating and clustering a sRNA locus map for the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii
- Studying the role of CTCF in Drosophila genome architecture
- Constructive evaluation of synthetic biology research trajectories
- Constructive sustainability assessment of synthetic biology applications: an industry case study
- The role of charitable funding in university research