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Gulliver Conroy


Gulliver Conroy 


Thesis title

The social shaping of nanotechnology: A boundary perspective of communication for environmental risk governance of engineered nanomaterials

Project description

The project aims to understand how the reporting of uncertainty mediates confidence in novel risk data in communications between scientists and policy stakeholders for the environmental risk governance of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs). The need for novel forms of data has arisen in the case of ENMs because they are currently indetectable in the environment using conventional analytic methods. This is a concern since it prevents exposure assessments to determine the concentration of ENMs in different parts of the environment, and therefore, whether they pose a risk. Computer modelling exemplifies the strategies used to get around the problem of detection but it also poses a number of challenges associated with reporting and confidence. The first part of the project involves collaboration with another PhD student from EMPA, Switzerland, to apply the Probabilistic Material Flow Analysis model to South Australia to estimate ENM environmental concentrations. A multidisciplinary perspective on the predicted risk will then be sought by engaging policy stakeholders. This exercise will utilise environmental modelling as a platform to explore, and develop and understanding of the emerging risk governance domain of ENMs. In particular, characterise the ways in which stakeholder groups ‘see’ governance problems and what gives them confidence in potential solutions.

Student Profile

Gulliver completed his Bachelors degree in Biotechnology at Swinburne University in Melbourne. While he commenced the degree with an interest in human genetics, Gulliver ended up changing his focus from science in general to the role of science in society. Upon completing his degree, he commenced a Masters of Biotechnology at Flinders University with a view to integrating his interests by researching the role of science and society in an environmental context. In 2010, Gulliver undertook a year-long research project to investigate the potential role of soil metagenomics by stakeholders of the South Australian environmental remediation industry. Against the backdrop of the emerging sustainable remediation paradigm, this project used a survey instrument to characterise and interpret how new ‘tools’ like soil metagenomics could be used by stakeholders to undertake their work in a more sustainable manner. Then, in 2012, Gulliver transferred to UniSA to undertake a project researching the environmental risk governance of engineered nanomaterials from a multidisciplinary perspective.