Water research at the University of Glasgow

Prof Joseph Murphy

Prof Joseph Murphy

Joseph’s research focuses on: (i) ways of shaping science and technology at an early stage to make innovations more sustainable; (ii) environmental governance and policy making processes including the role of communities; (iii) behaviour change and ways of bringing about more sustainable ways of living in the richest countries; (iv) sustainable development in Scotland. In the past he has explored these things in relation to chemicals, GM crops/foods and (renewable) energy infrastructure. In the future he will be exploring similar issues through water which he sees as a key resource central to (un)sustainable development in the decades ahead.

He is currently working on the project ‘Synthetic Biology Applications to Water Supply and Remediation’. This is a multi-million pound five-year project (starting in October 2013) funded by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The aim is to innovate in the basic technology of synthetic biology as applied to water supply and remediation focussing in two areas: synthetic organisms as sentinels and signallers, and synthetic organisms as catalysts. As such the project links applied scientists working particularly in biology and engineering. As part of this project Joseph is running a cross-cutting work package on ‘responsible innovation’. The aim of this work is to understand the ethical, legal and social issues, which arise when synthetic biology is applied to water supply and remediation and to ensure that the scientific work programme is aware of and shaped by these issues. In doing this work the goal is to help deliver technology, which is not only safe and commercially viable but also appropriate and legitimate. An additional and wider goal is to build on existing ‘responsible innovation’ research and practice to understand how society can shape science as it develops in the laboratory.

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