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Genomics Forum · Events

The Social Sessions 01: The Laboratory of Doctor Latour, and Other Stories

Public event   14.10.2009






Guests: Andrew J. Wilson (Writer's Bloc), Professor Steve Yearley (ESRC Genomics Forum), Dr Emma Frow (ESRC Genomics Forum), Dr Chris French (University of Edinburgh)

Host: Ken Macleod

Organised by

Genomics Forum in partnership with Writer's Bloc and Transreal Fiction


Boardroom, ESRC Genomics Forum, 3rd Floor, St John’s Land, Holyrood Road, University of Edinburgh

Event details

Drinks from 5.30pm in the ESRC Genomics Forum will be followed by a discussion, led by host Ken MacLeod and his guests, exploring how science fiction has portrayed scientific work.

The reckless ‘mad scientist’ like Frankenstein or Dr Moreau seldom appears in modern science fiction - some of whose writers are scientists themselves. But do any of these fictional portrayals match what social scientists have found when observing scientists in their natural habitat? And how do scientists feel about sociologists watching them, and about SF writers imagining them?

The Host:

Ken MacLeod is on of the Forum’s writers in residence. Ken is a science fiction writer of international repute. He has written eleven novels and many shorter pieces of fiction and non-fiction. His novels often explore socialist, communist and anarchist political ideas and encompass themes such as divergent human cultural evolution. Ken has launched the Human Genre Project and is involved in organising the Social Sessions, a series of carnival discussions on science and literature. Ken is currently researching a novel and commissioning an anthology of short stories on genomics themes.

His Guests:

Andrew J Wilson currently works as a freelance editor and writer. He is the science fiction, fantasy and horror reviewer for The Scotsman. Andrew has published many short stories, appeared on television and radio as a commentator, and regularly chairs events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. He is the co-editor of Nova Scotia: New Scottish Speculative Fiction.

Professor Steve Yearley has been Director of the ESRC Genomics Forum since September 2006. Attracted to the intellectual excitement surrounding post-Kuhnian science studies, Steven left his natural science studies behind to explore the social place of science in modern society. Professor Yearley has authored six books, including Making Sense of Science: Understanding the Social Study of Science (Sage, 2004) and Cultures of Environmentalism: Empirical Studies in Environmental Sociology (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004). He also co-wrote the Sage Dictionary of Sociology which appeared in 2006. In addition, he has authored and co-authored more than 40 articles in peer-reviewed journals and more than 30 chapters in edited collections.

Dr Emma Frow holds a BA in neuroscience from Cambridge University, and completed a PhD in biochemistry in the department of Medicine at Cambridge. After her PhD, Emma spent two years as a subeditor for the scientific journal Nature, and was involved in a number of science policy initiatives. Emma is currently enrolled in a part-time MSc in Science & Technology studies at the University of Edinburgh, due to complete in September 2009

Dr Chris French Dr. Chris French is a lecturer in microbial biotechnology in the School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh. He teaches general and applied microbiology, and conducts research in synthetic biology, biosensors for detection of pollutants, water purification, and conversion of biomass to useful substances. He also directs thebbsp;University’s entries in the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition, an annual undergraduate competition run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to promote the development of synthetic biology.

Further details


After the event

Read Ken MacLeod's report at The Laboratory of Dr Latour, and Other Stories, 30 September 2009