The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Dr Kenneth Taylor

Research Associate



I have a background in biological sciences and chemistry and worked at the Scottish Crop Research Institute, 1978-1997.  There I had research interests in the malting quality of barley and the chemical synthesis of biologically active peptides.  I also ran the Institute's DNA sequencing and synthesis service for several years.  After completing a hospitality management degree at Dundee University, I moved to Newcastle University in 2001 to undertake a PhD in the Politics Department under the supervision of Professor Tim Gray. This CASE studentship, "The Governance of Genetic Science", was funded by the ESRC and Westlakes Research Institute in Cumbria.  In this I explored the differing responses of Government and publics to developments in genetic sciences.

I have worked in PEALS since November 2005 on a number of projects relating to the provision and acquisition of human reproductive tissue including post-implantation embryonic and foetal tissue, eggs and pre-implantation embryos created by in vitro fertilisation techniques.  Between 2013 and 2016 I worked on a socio-ethical analysis of the scheme in which women were offered money to volunteer to provide eggs for mitochondrial disease research.  These empirical projects have involved interviews with women who have volunteered to provide such tissue, and the clinicians and scientists who make use of it.  I am now engaged in work on Responsible Research and Innovation in relation to synthetic biology and genome editing.

Roles and Responsibilities

I am currently a Research Associate funded by the EPSRC, working with Dr Simon Woods on the 'Synthetic Portabolomics' programme grant.  In this I am taking a lead on the implementation of a programme of work on Responsible Research and Innovation and undertaking empirical and conceptual research.

I previously worked with Professor Erica Haimes on projects funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council, and with Dr Woods on an EU FP6 programme award.  In these projects I was responsible for the day-to-day management of the work, gathering and analysing data, writing for publication and drafting of final reports to funders.  I also led on the successful submissions for two research projects to NHS Research and Development approval, including all ethics clearance.

In 2012-3 I was involved in the University's preparation for REF 2014; researching and writing impact case studies for the Faculty of Medical Sciences and in 2019 was invited to join the HASS Faculty internal review panel for developing impact case studies for REF 2021.

In 2008, 2011, 2015 and 2018 I was responsible for the day-to-day organisation of the PEALS annual international symposia and closely involved in the organisation of those in 2009 and 2010.


BSc (Hons) Biochemistry, Open University 1995.
MA (Hons) Hotel and Catering Management, Dundee University, 2001.
PhD Newcastle University, 2006. "Genetic Science in the Risk Society: the contrasting responses of government and public".


Research Interests

My research interests are broadly in the ethical and social aspects of the governance of biotechnologies and in Responsible Research and Innovation with particular interest in synthetic biology and non-human genome editing technologies.

Other expertise

I have considerable experience in small conference/symposium organisation, supplemented by my previous studies in hospitality management where I gained an understanding of financial planning and control.
I have experience in preparing funding proposals for UK research councils and charitable trusts.
I have significant valuable experience in the preparation of the complex submission required for conducting research with the NHS, through the Research and Development committee process.

Current Work

I am currently working on the implementation of a programme of work on Responsible Research and Innovation in synthetic biology and undertaking research on the concept and its reception by laboratory and computer scientists.  I am developing a programme of activities in collaboration with an artist and the Great North Museum that will engage a family audience with the concepts underpinning synthetic biology.

Future Research

I have an interest in the perceptions of novel biotechnologies such as synthetic biology and genome editing by different publics and policymakers and plan to explore this through extending the work of the current project I work on and developing further funding bids.

Research Roles

I am currently leading the direction of research on Responsible Research and Innovation in synthetic biology in the 'Synthetic Portabolomics' programme grant.  I have been conducting interviews, engaging in qualitative analysis and drafting papers for publication.

Postgraduate Supervision


Esteem Indicators

Invited participant in closed workshop on stem cell science hosted by the University of Oslo.
Invited by PEALS management team onto the organising committee for our 10th anniversary events.

Member of the steering group for the IDARTSS ( Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Uses of Reproductive Tissue in Stem Cell Science ) project led by Professor Erica Haimes.