More info on my research career

After completing my undergraduate degree at the University of Ottawa, I worked as a freelance editor in Canada for many years until deciding to go to graduate school overseas. In 1995, I completed my Masters degree at Cardiff University in Wales and began my career as a social science researcher.  My primary interest, and the core focus of my work, is technology adoption – the social, political, economic, cultural and mediated contexts that shape how technologies are adopted and used. My specific research topics are reflected in the many publications on this website.

My first research job was a three-year contract (1995-1998) on a funded project at Dublin City University in Ireland while completing my PhD. When that contract ended, I started a consultancy in Dublin, ITech Research (1998-2004), and worked primarily on research funded by the European Union Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

In 2004, I returned to Canada to take up a research officer position at the National Research Council of Canada in Fredericton, working primarily with computer scientists and engineers designing technologies at the prototype stage. The projects were varied and interesting, a mix of externally-funded research to answer practical questions and blue sky research to explore new ideas. At the NRC I was also vice-chair of the NRC research ethics board in Ottawa, and, for my last three years, president of the union (PIPSC) representing 1,500 NRC researchers and research professionals in more than 20 NRC institutes across Canada. Lots of stories there 🙂 I retired from the NRC as a senior research officer in 2017.

The National Research Council building in Fredericton is on the campus shared by the University of New Brunswick and St. Thomas University. Soon after I began working at the NRC in 2004, I was invited to join the UNB faculty as an adjunct professor in the Department of Sociology. From my first year at UNB until I left in 2023, I was awarded continuous funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for my research with UNB graduate students. My 19 years at UNB were pleasant and productive and mostly unremarkable, until my final years when I began researching nuclear technology and writing critically about the technology and the nuclear industry.

To make a long story short, in 2021 I filed a right to information request with UNB and received a lengthy response document that was mostly redacted. I then filed a complaint about the redactions to the provincial government’s ombuds office, without success. My complaint document, HERE, includes the UNB record from my right to information request. Although mostly redacted, it’s an interesting example of senior administrators and faculty members exchanging emails about another faculty member (me) whose research they obviously find threatening in a way I still don’t fully understand.

Fortunately for me and my research, I was invited to join the faculty at St. Thomas University on the same university campus. I’m now – happily – based in the STU Environment and Society Program and plan to continue doing research here for as long as I can bring in research funding. My current research project, CEDAR, is funded by SSHRC until 2028. St. Thomas is a liberal arts undergraduate university. At this point in my research career, almost 30 years in, STU presents interesting changes in the way I do research. The most obvious is working solely with undergrad students. Previously I’d trained graduate students, mostly at PhD level, several of whom became friends and colleagues who challenged and taught me in return. However the more profound difference at STU is the liberal arts environment. Up until now, the research institutions I’ve worked at were closely tied with industry, and now I’m realizing how that relationship has constrained my intellectual freedom as a social scientist. I’ve always been drawn to critical research, to critique the power structures involved in technology adoption. Only now, at STU, I feel less constrained and more encouraged to do it. I’m very much looking forward to this next phase of my research career.