Prof. Dr. Ruth Müller

STS Deputy Department Head
Associate Professor of Science & Technology Policy
Program Coordinator, M.A. STS
Vice Dean for Talent Management & Diversity

Science and Technology Policy

Ruth Müller is a researcher in the interdisciplinary research field of Science & Technology studies. She has studied molecular biology (M.Sc.; 2000-2007) and sociology (PhD; 2007-2012) at the University of Vienna, Austria. During her studies, she conducted research on breast cancer at the Medical University of Vienna  (2001-2005) before she started to work on issues of life sciences, society & policy at the Department of Science and Technology Studies at the University of Vienna (2005-2011). She held postdoctoral positions at the Austrian Institute of International Affairs  (2012-2013) and at the Research Policy Institute, Lund University, Sweden (2013-2015), and she has been a recurring visiting research the Science & Justice Research Center, University of California Santa Cruz, U.S.. In February 2015, she was appointed Assistant Professor of Science & Technology Policy at the Munich Center for Technology in Society, a co-appointment with the TUM School of Management and the TUM School of Life Sciences.

  • Academic Knowledge Cultures in Transformation

This research focus explores how contemporary governance practices in science policy and science management (e.g. evaluation processes, career norms, funding structures) affect work and knowledge cultures within academic institutions. This type of research, which explores how the structures that support science also shape science, offers a vital basis for a reflexive type of science governance that proactively engages with its outcomes and  and reflexively adapts its strategies to address unintended effects.

  • Emergent Knowledge Cultures in the Life Sciences

This research focus explores how novel research ideas unfold within the institutional frameworks of contemporary academia and its societal contexts. Based on my own interdisciplinary background, which includes an M.Sc. degree in Molecular Biology, my work focuses specifically on the life sciences and traces the epistemic, social and political dynamics emerging with new forms of life science knowledge and biotechnology. Current research focuses on environmental epigenetics, a research field that explores gene-environment interactions; novel genome editing technologies such as CRISPRCas9; and issues in environmental toxicology, such as microplastics. My projects seek to examine what responsible research and innovation could mean in each situated context, and in relation to and collaboration with the specific stakeholders in each case.

  • Gender, Diversity and Social Justice

Across all research activities, my work examines how the research is affected by and affects questions of social and environmental justice. I understand categories of social stratification, such as gender, race, ethnicity and class, as deeply intersectional, that is they emerge and need to be studied in relation to each other.

Ongoing research projects at my professorship are currently funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Bavarian Research Foundation (Bayerische Forschungsstiftung), the EU Horizon 2020 program and the TUM Gender & Diversity Incentive Fund.




  • Ruess, A.K., Müller, R., and Pfotenhauer, S.M. (2023) Opportunity or responsibility? Tracing co-creation in the European policy discourse, Science and Public Policy. scac079.
  • Breuer, S., Braun, M., Tigard, D., Buyx, A., and Müller, R. (2023) How engineers’ imaginaries of healthcare shape design and user engagement: A case study of a robotics initiative for geriatric healthcare AI applications. ACM Trans. Comput.-Hum. Interact. 30(2): 1-33.
  • Brunet, L. and Müller, R. (2022) Making the cut: How panel reviewers use evaluation devices to select applications at the European Research Council, Research Evaluation, rvac040. 31(4): 486-497.
  • Müller, R., Feiler, J., and Clare, A. (2022) A doomed technology? On dene editing in Bavarian livestock agriculture, policy field conflicts and responsible research and innovation. Front. Polit. Sci. 4:800211.
  • McLennan, S., Fiske, A., Tigard, D., et al. (2022) Embedded ethics: A proposal for integrating ethics into the development of medical AI. BMC Med Ethics. 23(6): 1-10.
  • Penkler, M., Jacob, C., Müller, R., et al. (2021) Developmental origins of health and disease, resilience and social justice in the COVID era. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease. 13(4): 1-4.
  • Schönbauer, S. and Müller, R. (2021) A risky object? How microplastics are represented in the German media. Science Communication. 43(5): 543-569.
  • Müller, R. and Kenney, M. (2021) A science of hope? Tracing emergent entanglements between the biology of early life adversity, trauma-informed care, and restorative justice. Science, Technology, & Human Values. 46(6): 1230-1260.
  • Müller, R. and Schönbauer, S. (2020) Zero waste––zero justice? Engaging Science, Technology, and Society. 6: 416-420.
  • Müller, R. (2020) A task that remains before us: Reconsidering inheritance as a biosocial phenomenon. Semin Cell Dev Biol. 97: 189-194.
  • Müller, R. and Kaltenbrunner, W. (2019) Re-disciplining academic careers? Interdisciplinary practice and career development in a Swedish environmental sciences research center. Minerva. 57: 479-499.
  • Penkler, M., Hanson, M., Biesma, R., and Müller, R. (2019) DOHaD in science and society: Emergent opportunities and novel responsibilities. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease. 10(3): 268-273.
  • Lloyd, S. and Müller, R. (2018) Situating the biosocial: Empirical engagements with environmental epigenetics from the lab to the clinic. Introduction to the special issue. BioSocieties. 13(4): 675-680.
  • Müller, R. and Samaras, G. (2018) Epigenetics and aging research: Between adult malleability and early life programming. BioSocieties. 13(4): 715-736.
  • Meloni, M. and Müller, R. (2018) Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance and social responsibility: Perspectives from the social sciences. Environmental Epigenetics. 4(2): 1-10.
  • Borck, C., Lipphardt, V., Maasen, S., Müller, R., and Penkler, M. (2018) Responsible Research? Dilemmata der Integration gesellschaftlicher und kultureller Perspektiven in naturwissenschaftliche Forschungsprogramme (Einleitung). Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte. 41(3): 215-221.
  • Penkler, M. and Müller, R. (2018) Von ‚Fehlanpassungen‘ und ‚metabolischen Ghettos‘: Zur Konzeptualisierung globaler Gesundheitsunterschiede im Feld der Developmental Origins of Health and Disease. Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte. 41(3): 258-278.
  • Müller, R. (2017) Der epigenetische Körper. Zwischen biosozialer Komplexität und Umweltdeterminismus. Open Gender Journal, 1:1-17.
  • Müller, R. and de Rijcke, S. (2017) Thinking with indicators. Exploring the epistemic impacts of academic performance indicators in the life sciences. Research Evaluation. 26(3): 157-168.
  • Kenney, M. and Müller, R. (2017) Of rats and women: Narratives of motherhood in environmental epigenetics. BioSocieties. 12(1): 23-46.
  • Müller, R. (2017) Crafting a career in MCTS: Meaning making, assessment and interdisciplinary engagement. Engaging Science, Technology, and Society. 3: 84-91.
  • Fochler, M., Felt, U. and Müller, R. (2016) Unsustainable growth, hyper-competition, and worth in life science research: Narrowing evaluative repertoires in doctoral and postdoctoral scientists’ work and lives. Minerva. 54(2): 175-200.
  • Müller, R. (2014) Racing for what? Anticipation and acceleration in the work and career practices of academic life science postdocs. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research. 15(3).
  • Müller, R. (2014) Postdoctoral life scientists and supervision work in the contemporary university: A case study of changes in the cultural norms of science. Minerva. 52(3): 329-349.
  • Müller, R., Kenney, M. (2014) Agential conversations. Interviewing postdoctoral life scientists and the politics of mundane research practices. Science as Culture. 23(4): 537-559.
  • Pickersgill, M., Niewöhner, J., Müller, R., Martin, P. and Cunningham-Burley, S. (2013) Mapping the new molecular landscape: Social and ethical aspects of epigenetics.” New Genetics & Society. 32: 429-447.
  • Müller, R. (2012) Collaborating in life science research groups: The question of authorship. Higher Education Policy. 25: 289–311.
  • Felt, U. and Müller, R. (2011) Tentative (id)entities: On technopolitical cultures and the experiencing of genetic testing. BioSocieties. 6: 342-363.


  • Müller, R. (2022), „Epigenetik“. In A. Herrmann, T. J. Kim, E. Kindinger, N. Mackert, L. Rose, F. Schorb, E. Tolasch, & V. Paula-Irene (eds.): Fat Studies. Ein Glossar. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag. pp. 97-100.
  • Müller, R. (2021), “‘I’m sorry, but it’s kind of business.’ Crisis, critique and care in and beyond the PhD”, Barnacle, R. & Cuthbert, D. (eds.): The PhD at the End of the World. Provocations for the Doctorate and a Future Contested, Springer, pp. 131-142.
  • Müller, R. (2021), “Time as a judgment device: How time matters when reviewers assess applicants for ERC starting and consolidator grants”, Vostal, F. (ed.): Inquiring into Academic Timescapes, Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 195-209.
  • Kaltenbrunner, W., de Rijcke, S., Müller, R. and Burner-Fritsch, I. (2021), “On the chronopolitics of academic CVs in peer review”, Vostal, F. (ed.): Inquiring into Academic Timescapes, Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 247-264.
  • Müller, R. (2020), “Wissen, Werte und Bewerten: Zum Verhältnis von Evaluation und wissenschaftlicher Wissensproduktion.” In: Welpe, I.; Stumpf-Wollersheim, J.; Folger, N. & Prenzel, M. (Hgg.): Leistungsbewertung in wissenschaftlichen Institutionen und Universitäten. Eine mehrdimensionale Perspektive, Oldenburg: de Gryuter, pp. 42-54.
  • Zachman, K., Esselborn, S., Müller, R. und Felder, K. (2019), “Messen und Ermessen. Vertrauen in Zahlen oder Expertise für technische Sicherheit und Wissenschaftsförderung.” In: Zachmann, K. & Ehlers, S. (eds.): Wissen und Begründen. Evidenz als umkämpfte Ressource in der Wissensgesellschaft, Baden-Baden: Nomos, pp. 83-108.
  • Müller, R. (2019), “Racing for what? Anticipation and acceleration in the work and career practices of academic life science postdocs.” In: Cannizzo, F. & Osbaldiston, N. (eds.): The Social Structure of Global Academia, New York: Routledge. (Reprint of Müller 2014).
  • Hanson, M., Müller, R. and Penkler, M. (2018), “A life course perspective on bone health and disease: Scientific and social implications.” In: Harvey, Nicholas; Cooper, Cyrus (eds.): Osteoporosis: A Lifecourse Epidemiology Approach to Skeletal Health, Baton Rouge: CRC Press, pp. 193-203.
  • Kenney, M. and Müller, R. (2018), “Of rats and women: Narratives of motherhood in environmental epigenetics.” In: Meloni, M., Cromby, J., Fitzgerald, D. & Lloyd, S. (eds.): The Palgrave Handbook of Biology and Society, London: Springer, pp. 799-830. (Reprint of Kenney & Müller 2017).
  • Müller, R. (2018), „Biomedizin und Geschlecht: Annäherung an ein Verhältnis aus der Perspektive der Wissenschafts- und Technikforschung.“ In: Gassner, Ulrich M.; Hayek, Julia von; Manzei, Alexandra; Steger, Florian (Hgg.): Gesundheitsforschung. Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven, Vol. 1: Geschlecht und Gesundheit, Baden-Baden: Nomos, pp. 83-116.
  • Felt, U., Fochler, M., Müller, R. and Nowotny, H. (2017), “Was ist, was soll eine Universität sein? Imaginaries von gestern und morgen.” In: Rat für Forschung und Technologieentwicklung (Hgg.): Zukunft und Aufgaben der Hochschulen, Wien: LIT Verlag, pp. 25-42.
  • Müller, R. & Witjes, N. (2014), “Of red threads and green dragons. Austrian sociotechnical imaginaries about STI cooperation with China.” In: Mayer, M., Carpes M. & Knoblich, R. (eds.): The Global Politics of Science and Technology, Vol. 2: Perspectives, Cases, and Methods, Berlin: Springer, pp. 47-65.
  • Müller, R. (2013), “‘Karriere machen’ in den Lebenswissenschaften: Welche Rolle spielt Geschlecht?” In: Binner, K., Kubicek, B., Rozwandowicz, A., Weber, L. (Hgg.): Die unternehmerische Hochschule aus der Perspektive der Geschlechterforschung. Zwischen Aufbruch und Beharrung, Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot, pp. 118-136.

Scientific Commentaries


  • Müller, R., Clare, A. and Ruess, A.K. (2023) STS and Bioethics: Forging New Synergies for Exploring the Potentials and Pitfalls of Public Engagement with New Biotechnologies, The American Journal of Bioethics. 23(7): 72-74.
  • Müller, R., Ruess, A.K., Schönweitz, F.B. et al. (2023) Next steps for global collaboration to minimize racial and ethnic bias in neuroscience. Nature Neuroscience. 26: 1132–1133.
  • Müller, R., Clare, A., Feiler, J., and Ninow, M. (2021) Between a rock and a hard place. EMBO reports. 22(7): 1-4. e53205.
  • Fiske, A., Tigard, D., Müller, R., Haddadin, S., Buyx, A., and McLennan, S. (2020) Embedded ethics could help implement the pipeline model framework for machine learning healthcare applications. The American Journal of Bioethics. 20(11): 32-35.
  • Penkler, M., Müller, R., Kenney, M., and Hanson, M. (2020) Back to normal? Building community resilience after COVID-19. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. 8(8): 664-665.
  • McLennan, S., Fiske, A., Celi, L.A. et al. (2020) An embedded ethics approach for AI development. Nat Mach Intell. 2: 488-490.
  • Hamann, J., Kaldewey, D., Bieletzki, N., et al. (2018) Aktuelle Herausforderungen der Wissenschafts- und Hochschulforschung: Eine kollektive Standortbestimmung. Soziologie. 47(2): 187-203.
  • Hanson, M. and Müller, R. (2017) Epigenetic inheritance and the responsibility for health in society. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. 5(1): 11-12.
  • Müller, R., Hanson, C., Hanson, M., et al. (2017) The biosocial genome? Interdisciplinary perspectives on environmental epigenetics, health and society. EMBO reports. 18: 1677-1682.
  • Farías, I., Müller, R., and Passoth, J.H. (2017) Collaboration and other forms of productive idiocy. EASST Review. 36(1).
  • Maasen, S., Farías, I., Uli, M., Müller, R., Passoth, J.H., Pfotenhauer, S., Pietsch, W., and Zachmann, K. (2017) Raising the stakes for MCTS in Germany. EASST Review. 36(1): 24-33.
  • Rushforth, A., de Rijcke, S., Beaulieu, A., et al. (2015) The author multiple: Reflections on a one week Lorentz-workshop on authorship in transition. EASST Review. 34(2): 8-12.

REPORTS, Media articels & interviews (selection)




  • Reviewer for international journals such as Social Studies of Science, Science, Technology & Human Values, BioSocieties, Science as Culture, Minerva, Research Policy, Science & Public Policy
  • Reviewer for funding programs of the German Research Foundation DFG, the European Research Council ERC and the Swiss National Science Foundation
  • Member of the advisory group of the task force on internationalization of science, technology & innovation of the Austrian Federal Government (2012-2013)
  • Working Group ‘Higher Education & Science Studies’, German Sociological Association
  • European Association for the Social Studies of Science [EASST]
  • Society for Social Studies of Science 4S
  • MCTS Austria
  • Residency Fellowship, Brocher Foundation, Geneva, Switzerland (2019)
  • Marie Curie Co-Fund Fellowship, FORTE, Swedish Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (2014)
  • Doc.Award for Outstanding Doctoral Thesis, University of Vienna, Austria (2012)
  • Dissertation Research Fellowship, University of Vienna, Austria (2011)
  • Mobility Research Fellowship of the Austrian Genome Research Program ‘Gen-AU’, Federal Ministry for Science & Research, Austria (2010)