Science and Technology Policy

Our Projects

Science and technology are central elements of modern societies. They have also become key actors in and topics of national and international policy. The professorship of Science and Technology Policy explores the multiple relationships between science, technology, society and policy that emerge in our increasingly technoscientific societies.

Project status
Funded by
Project type
Obviously Excellent? Evidence practices in preparing scientific research and biographies when applying for ERC starting and consolidator grants In the contemporary scientific system, high scientific quality – often framed as excellence – has become both a key goal of scientific and political activities and the center of many controversies How, for example, can excellence be defined, measured, compared and made evident?
Project leader(s)
Prof. Dr. Ruth Müller
Period
12.2020 - 09.2023
past
Funding institution
DFG
DFG dfg
Project type
drittmittelprojekt-third-party-funded-project
MedAICine – Social and Ethical Aspects of Artificial Intelligence in Medicine Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are already widely researched in medicine. There are promises that these technologies will support clinical decisions and improve diagnostics, prognosis, and treatment. Yet, the introduction of AI in medicine raises ethical questions, for example regarding transparency, explainability, trust, responsibility, fairness, and patients’ privacy. MedAIcine addresses key challenges and tensions regarding the responsible design and use of AI in medical imaging. Using an embedded ethics and social science approach, the project team investigates social and ethical aspects empirically, conducting case studies of ML in radiology, dermatology, and endoscopy.
Project leader(s)
Prof. Dr. Ruth Müller, Prof. Dr. Alena Buyx
Period
10/2022-09/2025
future
Funding institution
Center for Responsible AI Technologies
Center for Responsible AI Technologies center-for-responsible-ai-technologies-
Project type
third-party-funded-project
Themes
Machine learning, artificial intelligence, medical AI, medical imaging, responsible AI
TUM Innovation Network for Neurotechnology in Mental Health (NEUROTECH) The TUM Innovation Network for Neurotechnology in Mental Health (NEUROTECH) develops new approaches and technologies to improve the precision of clinical diagnoses and the success of treatments for mental dysfunction. As embedded social scientists, we accompany and analyze the research and development processes of the network to be able to identify and address ethical and societal issues as they arise.
Project leader(s)
Prof. Dr. Simon Jacob (Coordinator); Prof. Dr. Ruth Müller (PI “Embedded ethics and social science for responsible neurotechnology”); Prof. Dr. Alena Buyx (Co-PI “Embedded ethics and social science for responsible neurotechnology”)
Period
2022-2026
future
Funding institution
TUM Innovation Networks
TUM Innovation Networks tum-innovation-networks
Project type
tum-innovation-networks
Themes
Neuroscience, neurotechnology, embedded ethics and social sciences
Wissenschaftskulturen in Deutschland (Research Cultures in Germany) This project was part of Volkswagen Foundation’s “Wissen über Wissen” (Researching research) initiative. The project aimed to investigate the current state of research cultures in Germany with special foci on funding schemes, evaluation systems, and working conditions that shape career paths of researchers within the German research landscape. Disciplinary foci were on four research fields: empirical sociology, environmental humanities, artificial intelligence, and synthetic biology. Drawing on qualitative interviews with a total of 66 participants, the findings have shown specific challenges, particularly when it comes to promoting original and socially relevant research, and human and epistemic diversity within research. Suggestive guidelines have been submitted to VW and the publication of final report is expected in early Spring of 2023.
Project leader(s)
Michael Ploder, Joanneum Research, Graz/Austria
Period
Jan-Dec 2022
past
Funding institution
Volkswagen Foundation
Volkswagen Foundation volkswagen-foundation
Project type
consortium-project-third-party-funded-project
Themes
Epistemic cultures; Evaluation; Funding; Research cultures; Research policy; Science and technology studies
Responsible Innovation Communication The Focus Group „Responsible Innovation Communication“ conducts research in the area of public communication of emerging technology using Artificial Intelligence (AI) as an exemplary case.
Project leader(s)
Prof. Dr. Ruth Müller
Period
01.04.2022-31.03.2025
future
Funding institution
Institute for Advanced Study
Institute for Advanced Study institute-for-advanced-study
Themes
Science Communication, AI, expectations, sociotechnical imaginaries
Addressing gender-specific needs in drug service settings: an analysis of gender-responsive design in action Women are disproportionately affected by a variety of drug use-related harms and remain under-represented in addiction treatment and drug support services. In response to these challenges, state of the art research and policy debates have emphasized the urgent need to incorporate gender-specific needs into the design and delivery of drug services. Building on this imperative, the DAAD project seeks to shed much needed light on the factors influencing the development and implementation of ‘gender-responsive’ drug services. To this end, Dr Aysel Sultan from the STS department at TUM will spend 1 month at the Eastern Health Clinical School of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia which will be followed by an exchange visit from Dr Tristan Duncan to the STS department. The fellows will collaboratively design and undertake a qualitative study on how drug services incorporate gender and gender-responsiveness into service delivery. This exchange is funded by the German Academic Exchange Program (DAAD) and Veski in Victoria.
Project leader(s)
Aysel Sultan, Tristan Duncan
Period
01.08.2023-01.10.2023
past
Funding institution
DAAD, Veski and Monash University
DAAD, Veski and Monash University daad-veski-and-monash-university
Project type
third-party-funded-project
Themes
Gender-responsive services; gender-transformative; drug consumption rooms; Germany; women-only drug services
Responsible Robotics (RR-AI). Tracing Ethical and Social Aspects of AI-Based Transformations in Healthcare Work and Knowledge Environments. (bidt) The integration of embodied Artificial Intelligence (AI) into healthcare and society is expected to deliver major benefits in future decades. However, innovations such as AI operating robots, AI prosthetics, care- or at some point even micro- and nanorobots will come with a number of ethical, social, political and legal challenges, among them ground-breaking shifts in the work cultures and expertise of medical professionals. RR-AI therefore seeks to 1) empirically study the social and ethical and legal dimensions of two novel AI-based technologies – a service robot named GARMI, and a smart arm exoprosthesis – as they are being developed and implemented in healthcare practice; 2) develop a practical toolbox for future interdisciplinary AI innovation, as well as concrete standards and recommendations for responsible integration of embodied AI into healthcare work practice and training; 3) experimentally test these tools and recommendations through interdisciplinary co-creation and work-place integration of embodied AI applications.
Project leader(s)
Prof. Dr. Ruth Müller
Period
04.2020 - 06.2023
past
Funding institution
Funding institution: Bayerisches Forschungsinstitut für digitale Transformation (bidt)
Funding institution: Bayerisches Forschungsinstitut für digitale Transformation (bidt) funding-institution-bayerisches-forschungsinstitut-fr-digitale-transformation-bidt
Project type
consortium-project
Plastics – Publics – Politics (BMBF) Plastics and specifically microplastics in the environment are increasingly receiving public attention. Headlines such as “Dangerous mini-poison-bomb” (Focus online, 2012) or “Underestimated Danger – Plastic particles contaminate food” (Spiegel online, 2013) point to an increasing public discourse about microplastics as a potential environmental and health risk.
Project leader(s)
Prof. Dr. Ruth Müller
Period
03.2018 – 08.2021
past
Funding institution
BMBF
BMBF bmbf
Project type
consortium
Public Imaginations of Genome Editing in Livestock (Bayerische Forschungsstiftung) In science and in society, the CRISPR-Cas9 system is currently discussed as revolutionary new genetic technology. The novel technique promises more precise and cost-efficient ways of genetically “editing” the genomes of a wide variety of species.
Project leader(s)
Prof. Dr. Ruth Müller
Period
09.2018 – 05.2021
past
Funding institution
Bayerische Forschungsstiftung
Bayerische Forschungsstiftung bayerische-forschungsstiftung
Project type
verbundprojekt-consortium-project
Situating Environmental Epigenetics. A Comparative, Actor-Centered Study of Environmental Epigenetics as an Emergent Research Approach in Three Research Fields (DFG) Epigenetics explores changes in gene expression that do not result from gene mutation, but from chemical modifications on the DNA. In recent years, such epigenetic modifications have been found to respond to numerous stimuli from the environment – such as toxins, nutrition, trauma or stress – giving rise to the field of ‘environmental epigenetics’.
Project leader(s)
Prof. Dr. Ruth Müller
Period
10.2018 – 09.2021
past
Funding institution
DFG
DFG dfg
Project type
drittmittelprojekt-third-party-funded-project
SCALINGS – Scaling up Co-Creation: Avenues and Limits for integrating Society in Science and Innovation (EU Horizon 2020) The European Research Consortium SCALINGS explores the avenues and limits for the wider dissemination and use of co-creation practices across Europe.
Project leader(s)
Prof. Sebastian Pfotenhauer
Period
09.2018 – 09.2021
past
Funding institution
Horizon 2020
Horizon 2020 horizon-2020
Project type
consortium
Themes
Co-creation; Open Innovation; Robotics; Urban energy; Autonomous Vehicles; Public procurement of innovation; Living Labs; Co-creation facilities; comparative research
Practicing Evidence – Evidencing Practice Evidence in Science, Medicine, Technology and Society. DFG Research Unit 2448 https://www.evidenzpraktiken-dfg.tum.de/en/
Project leader(s)
Prof. Dr. Karin Zachmann
Period
13.12.2016 – 30.09.2023
past
Funding institution
DFG
DFG dfg
Project type
verbundprojekt-consortium-project
Toxic Entanglements. A Situated Analysis of Epigenetic Knowledge Production in Environmental Toxicology The ongoing process of the molecularization of environmental toxicology has challenged longstanding dogmas of the field. Focusing on the object of toxicity, the project examines how the adoption of an environmental epigenetic approach changes established notions of the field asking how toxicity is “made to matter” (Murphy 2006) and with what consequences for the perception of health and disease.
Project leader(s)
Sophia Rossmann
Period
Since 2018
past
Project type
phd
Articulating Metabolic Disease in a Life Course Perspective Are obesity and related metabolic disorders the result of a lack of self-discipline? This socially and medically widespread assumption is being challenged by medical research findings about the developmental origins of health and disease.
Project leader(s)
Dr. Michael Penkler
Period
09.2018 – 09.2021
past
Project type
Postdoc-Projekt / Post Doc Project
Postdoc-Projekt / Post Doc Project Array
Re-Enacting Stress in the Lab. On Environmental Epigenetics, Social Adversity and the Molecularisation of Mental Health During the last two decades, we can observe a change in how the life sciences conceptualise life: no longer mainly based on an unchangeable genome, but increasingly as affected by the way we live. Environmental epigenetics is an emerging research approach within this perspective and proposes that human bodies and minds are malleable, able to adapt to socio-material environments, among them toxins, nutrition, and stressful experiences. These adaptions, researchers suggest, take place via molecular processes, altering the way our genes are transcribed and therefore the way how our bodies and health develop. While environmental epigenetics offers important novel insights for understanding human life as a biosocial phenomenon, it also extends the biological gaze from the laboratory towards suitable objects of study out in the real world – an extension that possibly implies social and political consequences for individual and community live, as well as for scientific research practices. This thesis therefore studies how a psychiatric research institute uses approaches from environmental epigenetics to better understand the causes for and development of mental health conditions. Within epigenetic research in psychiatry, stressful experiences are described as a crucial “epigenetic environment” which gives rise to research strategies attempting to re-enact stress in the laboratory setting. In my thesis, I provide in-depth insights into these everyday research practices based on ethnographic fieldwork, qualitative interviews, and literature analysis. I specifically investigate re-enactments of stress in three different experimental arrangements: cell models, animal models, and research with human material. Given this context, I argue that these different experimental arrangements enable equally different epigenetic accounts of mental health with diverse social implications. In addition to the analysis of how researchers operate with environment/stress in their experiments, the work also looks at the environment of these research practices and the biological laboratory. Given this perspective, I demonstrate a divergence between the scientists’ ideal imaginations about conducting neat stress research and the actual research conditions. That is to say, that environment in epigenetics not only matters as a stimulus in stress experiments, but also as a real-world phenomenon that influences research practices, such as a noisy construction site, that might have effects on behavioural experiments with mice. Given the central hypothesis of environmental epigenetic research – namely that environmental experiences are reflected in our biology, even down to the cell nucleus – my work provides important insights into how epigenetic perspectives are not only integrated into psychiatric research, but also how environmental epigenetics itself might change biological research. In other words, this thesis shows how epigenetics holds the potential to change the epistemology of the life sciences and our social science understanding of the biological laboratory.
Project leader(s)
Georgia Samaras
Period
2015-2020
past
Project type
Postdoc-Projekt / Post Doc Project
Postdoc-Projekt / Post Doc Project phd
Evidence for Excellence (TUM Gender & Diversity Incentive Fund; MCTS Lab Engineering Responsibility) Academic excellence has become a key notion within science policy discourses in recent years. Many profound reforms in the European academic research landscape have been argued as necessary in order to improve the scientific excellence of different research systems.
Project leader(s)
Prof. Dr. Ruth Müller
Period
past
Funding institution
MCTS Labor Engineering Responsibility, TUM Gender & Diversity Incentive Fund
MCTS Labor Engineering Responsibility, TUM Gender & Diversity Incentive Fund -mcts-labor-engineering-responsibility-tum-gender-amp-diversity-incentive-fund
Project type
Drittmittelprojekt / Third-party funded Project
Drittmittelprojekt / Third-party funded Project Array