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Chris LawlessSocial Science

Associate Professor (Director of MA Social Research Methods) in the Department of Sociology


I am a sociologist specializing in the application of science studies to legal and regulatory issues, with specific research interests focusing on forensic science, criminal investigation and critical infrastructures.

I originally trained as an analytical biochemist, gaining a BSc in Biochemistry and Microbiology (Sheffield) and an MRes in Instrumentation Systems (University College London). Following a period working in research science I made the transition to the social sciences via an MA with Distinction in International Relations (Sheffield). I then completed a PhD at Durham University under the supervision of Professor Robin Williams, focusing on the sociology of forensic scientific reasoning.

Following the completion of my PhD, I undertook brief positions at Durham and Northumbria University. I returned to Durham in August 2012, after having previously held a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation (CARR), London School of Economics and Political Science, and a Teaching Fellowship in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

The external organisations I have worked with are: UK Home Office; US Department of Homeland Security; Scottish Ministers Fingerprint Inquiry.

Many of my research interests relate to the relationship between science and law. Together with Dr Alex Faulkner of Kings College London, I co-edited the 2012 special issue of Journal of Law and Society on this topic. I continue to conduct research on the social, economic, political and legal relevance of forensic science.

I also pursue research in the field of risk regulation. I am currently researching critical infrastructures (CI), with the aim of developing a methodological framework to understand how resilience evolves in transnational CI systems.

I have advised and worked with a number of official bodies. In 2010 I participated in the US-UK Greenfield Aviation Security Programme, jointly organized by the US Department of Homeland Security and the UK Home Office. This series of workshops was convened to consider future developments in aviation security over the next 15-20 years.

I have presented my work at a number of international events in locations including Washington D.C., Tokyo, Seoul, Paris and Gothenburg. I have acted as an external examiner on Continuing Professional Development programmes offered by Dundee University on Disaster Victim Identification. I have also acted as a reviewer for a number of leading international journals.