Melanie Smallman is an academic, communications specialist, campaigner and policy adviser, interested in the relationship between science, technology and society. She is currently a lecturer in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at UCL, where she Co-Directs UCL’s hub for Responsible Research and Innovation, and is a Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute, where she works on data ethics and computational approaches to social science.
Melanie’s research looks at public attitudes to science and technology, how these views influence policy, and how evidence is understood and used in policymaking. In particular, she is interested in the role of technologies in growing economic inequality, and how these economic effects in turn influence perceptions of science and technology.
Alongside this, Melanie regularly advises and supports governments and organisations around the world, and is a regular media commentator. Her experience includes appearing in front of the UK’s House of Commons Parliamentary Select Committee on Science and Technology in 2016, reviewing the science communication programme of the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa in 2017 and a member of the Multidisciplinary Assessment Committee of the Canadian Innovation Fund in 2017.
Training initially in life-sciences, Melanie’s professional experience combines entrepreneurship and business leadership, with communications and academic research. She has a PhD in Science and Technology Studies from UCL, an MSc in Science Communication from Imperial College and has completed a Visiting Fellowship in Science, Technology and Society, at the Harvard Kennedy School, working with Professor Sheila Jasanoff. Since 1999 she has been Director of Think-Lab, a science and environmental policy and communications consultancy, working with a variety of leading European science and environmental organisations. For eight years, until 2011, she was a communications adviser to the Chief Scientist in Defra, tasked with rebuilding public confidence in Defra’s use of science.
Melanie is also a passionate environmental campaigner. Currently co-Chair of the award winning environment campaign SERA, she works closely with senior politicians at a National and Local level to help develop more sustainable and inclusive environmental policies and regularly writes and commentates in the media on issues including air pollution and renewable and community energy. She was also a local councillor from 1996-2006, where, as Cabinet Member for Education, led a team that took three schools out of special measures and set up a new secondary school. Melanie was also a founding board member of the Old Oak Housing Association.