Professor Ruth McNally

Professor of Technological Innovation and Social Change

Faculty:Lord Ashcroft International Business School

Department:Economics and International Business

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Business, management and leadership , International Business

Ruth McNally is Professor of Technological Innovation and Social Change. She is interdisciplinary, and has expertise in the policy and practices of genomics, biosciences, Big Data and digital technologies.

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Prior to joining Anglia Ruskin University, Prof. McNally worked at Cardiff and Lancaster Universities in the ESRC Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (Cesagen). Previously she worked at Brunel University, was Director of Bio-Information (International) Ltd., and consultant to Derwent World Patents on gene and protein sequence data.

She has published four books including Truth Machine: The Contentious History of DNA Profilingco-authored with Lynch, Cole and, Jordan, and 2011 winner of a Distinguished Publication Award by the American Sociological Association. She is an editorial board member of: New Genetics and Society; Life Sciences, Society and Policy; and Big Data and Society

Research interests

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  • The politics of European science, technology and innovation policy
  • Broadening participation in techno-scientific innovation
  • The dynamics of interdisciplinary collaboration
  • Genomics, data and digital technologies – policies, promises, expectations and transformations in health and care
  • Reproductive technologies – policy, legislation, commercialisation, globalisation
  • Genomics and forensics - policy, legislation and commercialisation
  • Big Data practices and policies in the biosciences – databases, standards, sharing, IPRs
Research projects

For descriptions of our current projects, please see our Faculty research page.

  • Principal Investigator: EU ‘Business Opportunities for Healthy Ageing’ (Biz4Age)
  • Co-Investigator: EPSRC ‘Citizens Transforming Society! Tools for Change’ (Catalyst)
  • Co-Investigator: ESRC ‘Socialising Big Data’
  • Co-Investigator: ‘Impact of new technologies on healthcare organisations’
  • Co-Investigator: ESRC ‘A data topography of next generation sequencing genomes’.
  • Co-Principal Investigator: e-Science Institute ‘Data flows in genomic and environmental science: durability, replicability, metrology’.
  • Research Fellow: ESRC ‘Beyond the genome: The paradigm shift to proteomics’
  • Co-Investigator: ESRC ‘Sustainable technology transition through innovation network configuration – dematerialising the “printed paper text”’
  • Researcher: ‘Beyond eugenics: A Foucauldian analysis of the ‘handicap ground’ for abortion’
  • Research Fellow: ESRC ‘Science in a legal context: DNA profiling, forensic practice, and the courts’
  • Co-Investigator:  ESRC ‘Social dynamics of controversy and control in innovations in the biosciences’
  • Principal Investigator: European Parliament STOA ‘Bioethics in the UK’
  • Principal Investigator: European Parliament ‘Biotechnology in Europe’
  • Principal Investigator: European Commission ‘ Framework for the regulation of the release of genetically modified organisms’

Areas of research supervision

  • Dr Jamie Lewis. Proteomics: Computerisation and bioinformatics. Cardiff University
  • Dr Andrew Bartlett. Accomplishing sequencing the human genome. Cardiff University
  • Ricardo Carolas. User innovation in the healthcare industry. Anglia Ruskin University

Please see the research interests and projects above for the topics Ruth is interested in supervising


  • BSc Honours Genetics
  • PGCE
  • MA Socio-Legal Studies
  • PhD Science and Technology Studies

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Editorial Board Member, New Genetics and Society.
  • Editorial Board Member, Life Sciences, Society and Policy.
  • Editorial Board Member Big Data and Society.
  • Member, Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S)
  • Member, European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST)
  • Member, British Sociological Association (BSA).
  • Associate Member, ESRC Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics.
  • Member, EPSRC Catalyst Senior Management Committee.
  • Member, EPSRC Catalyst Advisory Group.
  • Member Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA)

Selected recent publications

Recent peer-reviewed journal articles

Mackenzie, A., McNally, R. Post-archival genomics and the bulk logistics of DNA sequences. BioSocieties.

Southern, J., Ellis, R., Ferrario, M.A., McNally, R., Dillon, R., Simm, W., Whittle, J., 2014. Imaginative labour and relationships of care: Co-designing prototypes with vulnerable communities. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 84, pp.131–142.

Mackenzie, A., McNally, R., 2013. Living multiples: how large-scale scientific data-mining pursues identity and differences. Special Issue. Theory, Culture and Society. 30 (4) pp.72-91.

Valve, H., McNally, R., 2013. Articulating scientific policy advice with PROTEE. Science, Technology and Human Values, 38(4), pp.470-491.

Mackenzie, A, Ellis, R., Frow, E., McNally, R., Waterton, C., Wynne, B., 2013. Classifying, constructing and identifying life: Standards as transformations of “the biological”. Science, Technology and Human Values, 38, pp.701-722.

McNally, R., Mackenzie, A, Hui A.,Tomomitsu J., 2012. Understanding the ‘intensive’ in ‘data intensive research’: Data flows in Next Generation Sequencing and Environmental Networked Sensors. International Journal of Digital Curation, 7(1), pp.81-95.

Selected book chapters

Lynch M, McNally R. 2010. ‘Forensic DNA databases: The co-production of law and surveillance technology’ in: P. Atkinson, P. and Glasner, M. Lock (eds). Handbook of Genetics and Society: Mapping the New Genomics Era. Routledge.

Recent presentations and conferences

2014. Business Opportunities for Healthy Ageing. Opening Address. International Conference of Innov’embre and Biz4Age, Kortrijk Expo Centre.

2014. Beyond the prototype as endgame: The reshaping of objects and relationships in rapid participatory innovation. For the panel: Inclusive innovation: Contesting inequalities and promoting social justice. At the European Association for the Study of Science and Society (EASST) 2014 Conference: ‘Situating Solidarities: Social challenges for science and technology studies. Nicolas Copernicus University in Torun, Poland.

2014. Life at the interface: Studying interdisciplinarity research in action. For the panel: Rethinking responsibility in interdisciplinary interactions: the role of the social sciences. At the Conference: Transfusion and Transformation: The Creative Potential of Interdisciplinary Knowledge Exchange, Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University.

2014. Rubbish metrics and genomic idiots: Data-intensive provocations. Goldsmiths College London University. Part of Data Practices Seminar Series.

2013. Everything is in the data: Reading the contemporary DNA archives. For the panel: Socialising Big Data: the vulnerabilities of digital data objects. At ESRC CRESC Annual Conference 2013: In/vulnerabilities and social change: Precarious lives and experimental knowledge. School of Oriental and African Studies, London.