Professor Steve Yearley became Director of IASH in August 2017. He joined Edinburgh in 2005 as Professor of the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge. He is primarily interested in social studies of science and in environmental sociology. Steve is particularly concerned with areas where these specialisms overlap: for example in environmental controversies with a pronounced scientific element (such as with recent disputes over the safety or otherwise of GMOs) or, for example, in attempts to foster public engagement in technical decision-making in environmental areas (for instance, through his work on citizen engagement in urban air-quality issues and his work on public engagement with biodiversity issues in zoos and marine parks).
Additionally, Steve has been closely involved – primarily through the Wellcome Trust – with work on social aspects of human genetics and with social science questions relating to bioethics. From 2006 to 2013, he was appointed Director of the ESRC Genomics Policy & Research Forum. The Forum was an innovative centre focused on bringing insights from the social sciences to public and policy debates around the life sciences. At the Forum, Steve and other team members worked closely with a range of collaborators - from the Human Genetics Commission and the OECD, to the Natural History Museum and the Royal Society of London, and through to the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Traverse Theatre.
Steve returned from his secondment to the Forum and moved to Science, Technology and Innovation Studies in summer 2013. He has three externally funded research projects at present. Two relate to science-studies aspects of climate change: one of them focuses on monitoring practices and the governance of GHG emissions, the other on how scientific knowledge about climate change is summarised for policy purposes. His other project is a large international partnership on environment-food linkages.