SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

photo of Adrian Ely

Dr Adrian Ely

Post:Senior Lecturer in SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit)
Other posts:Senior Lecturer (The Sussex Energy Group)

Telephone numbers
UK:01273 873026
International:+44 1273 873026

Research expertise:
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I have been at Sussex since 2000. Beyond my primary role within SPRU, I value the opportunity to work across the different schools (and disciplines) on campus, as well as to collaborate with external partners. 

I am Deputy Director and Head of Impact and Engagement at the STEPS Centre (a collaboration between SPRU and IDS), and co-lead the ISSC  'Transformative Pathways to Sustainability' network as part of the work of the centre's global consortium.  I am also co-investigator in the Centre for Bionetworking (a Centre led from Global Studies which looks at responsible innovation in the Life Sciences).  I am on the Steering Committee of the Sussex Asia Centre, and in academic year 2014-15, I organised the Sussex China seminars. I am also a member of the Centre for Rising Powers and Global Development.  Beyond Sussex, I sit on the external advisory board of York Environmental Sustainability Institute (YESI).

My primary research specialisation is the regulation and governance of biotechnology. From December 2013 I have been co-investigator on the STEPS-affiliate project Low Carbon Innovation in China - Prospects, Politics and Practice.  Led from Lancaster University, this ESRC project is an international collaboration between researchers in the UK and leading institutions in China to investigate different models of innovation and their role in low carbon transitions.  I am leading the agri-food component examining high-tech (GM) and agro-ecological agriculture, which builds on several aspects of my earlier work, described below.  

In the first phase of the STEPS Centre, I was involved in two projects.  I convened Innovation, Sustainability, Development: A New Manifesto, a project that drew upon the expertise of colleagues at SPRU and IDS and also involved our partner institutions across the world.  The ideas and networks from the Manifesto project were taken forward through the impact and engagement work in the STEPS Centre's second phase (2011-2016).

I also worked on the "Rethinking Regulation" project.  With Chinese partners, we investigated the regulation of seeds and drugs at international, national and sub-national levels, and talked to farmers and patients in order to better understand how these regulatory frameworks and their associated assumptions translated to the rural realities where the technologies are actually being used. 

Prior to STEPS, I was involved in the European Commission FP6-funded integrated project "Safe Foods", which focussed on European food safety governance.  In 2006 I finished writing up my doctoral research, which since 2001 had been supported by an ESRC-NERC interdisciplinary studentship. My DPhil project was concerned with the use of scientific evidence in the regulatory appraisal of genetically modified insect resistant crops.

Over the years I have benefitted greatly from time spent visiting collaborating institutions around the world:

2011 May-June National Institute for Science, Technology and Development Studies, India

2010 November-December - African Technology Policy Studies Network, Kenya

2004 September- 2005 January: Program on Science, Technology and Society, J F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA

2004 February - June: UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

2003 October-November: Institute for Advanced Studies in Science, Technology and Society (IAS-STS), Graz, Austria

2003 May-July: Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), Ivry-sur-Seine, France