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Dr Melanie Smallman
Dr Melanie Smallman profile picture
  • Associate Professor
  • Dept of Science & Technology Studies
  • Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Dr Melanie Smallman is Associate Professor in Science and Technology Studies and Co-Director of UCL's Responsible Research and Innovation Hub. She grew up in South Wales and was the first person in her family to go to University.

Melanie is also founder and Director of the UK's first science communication consultancy, Think-Lab, and has led a number of innovative science communication and science policy projects. For 8 years she was 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. At Defra, she led and managed a small team of communication professionals who developed and implemented a communications strategy that aimed to change the media backdrop against which Defra crises took place, to improve the way in which crises were dealt with and to communicate those changes more widely. Melanie was also Project Director of SmallTalk, organising a series of public dialogue events on nanotechnology, and was a Dialogue and engagement specialist for ScienceWise, specialising in using mainstream and digital media to encourage debate. She was a member of the Nanotechnology engagement group which provided advice to the UK government and has also advised the OECD and the European commission on nanotechnology policy.

Melanie is also Chair of environmental campaign SERA and is committed to engaging the public in issues around air quality. Through this role, she has worked closely with politicians on environmental policy development both in government and opposition and has written on issues including energy democracy. She was a Councillor in London for 10 years and a parliamentary candidate in 2005.

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, was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) in 2016 and is currently a Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute.

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 in increasing economic inequality, how this affects public attitudes and how this can be accounted for in ethical frameworks and public policy. 

Melanie is currently a Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute where she is developing a 'Multiscale Ethics' framework that sets out to help account for the sociological effects, such as inequality, of AI developments into ethical evaluations. She is Co-I of the AHRC funded project "UK Pandemic Ethics Accelerator", leading the project's work on data ethics.

Melanie is also PI and coPI on two Horizon2020 projects (SISCODE and SCALINGS) which look 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 2020-21 Academic year Melanie is teaching:

Term 1

  • Science and Inequality (Part of the Introduction to Science and Technology Studies Module, MSc)
  • Social impact of AI (part of the STS Perspectives on the Big Problems module, Y1)
  • Science in Policy (Graduate school workshop)

Term 2

  • Science in Government (Y2)
  • Sociology of Science (Y2)
  • 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

  • Gemma Milne
  • Cecilie Hilmer
  • Mengxi Zhang
  • Jaspreet Jagdev
  • Nistha Bharti (visiting student)

Academic Background
2018   ATQ03 - Recognised by the HEA as a Fellow University College London
2015   Doctor of Philosophy University College London
1993   Master of Science/Diploma of Imperial College Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
1992   Bachelor of Science (Honours) University of Warwick
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