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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Leah Gilman

I was awarded an ESRC 1+3 studentship in 2011 to conduct doctoral research into the experiences of identity-release gamete donors in the UK. My research aims to understand how sperm and egg donors make sense of their donation, in the context of recent legal changes. Since 2005, donors in the UK must consent to identifying details about themselves being disclosed to any person conceived from their donation, who requests it after the age of eighteen. 

My thesis  examines how these identity-release donors construct their role in relation to donor offspring, recipients and the wider community. Drawing on 24 in-depth interviews with men and women who had donated since 2005,  I analyse the way in which donors draw on cultural discourses to negotiate their position, and the contradictory pressures they experience to both connect with and distance themselves from the recipient family. 


MA (hons) Sociology (first class) - 2006

PGDE Primary Education with distinction - 2007

MSc (Research) Science and Technology Studies - 2011


In addition to the following positions, I have continued to work on a supply basis as a primary school teacher for City of Edinburgh Council.

Autumn 2014:  Guest lecturer and course tutor, Fundamentals: Developing Sociological Imagination 

June 2014: Lecturer and facilitator for one-off seminar on "Personal, Social and Ethical Implications of Research,"  part of the Science Insights Work Experience Programme for sixth year students, hosted by the Institute for Genetic and Molecular Medicine and the Roslin Insitute.

2013-2014: Course tutor for Sociology 1a, Fundamentals: Developing Sociological Imgaination and Designing and Doing Social Research (honours course)

Nominated for 'best tutor' in EUSA Teaching Awards 2013-2014

2012-2013: Course tutor for Sociology 1a and Sociology 1b

Research Posts

Sep 2014-Nov 2014: Social Researcher (internship) at the Scottish Government.

Working in the Justice Analytical Services, I was responsible for the development of an evaluation pack,  as an easy to follow method for third sector organisations to assess the impat of small to medium sized projects. I liaised with key stakeholders in the voluntary and public sector in order to disseminate the guidance. I was also responsible for conducting a literature review on the views of Scottish sentencers towards sentencing and conducted analysis quantitative and qualitative data generated from a survey of Justice of the Peaces in Scotland.

Jan 2013-April 2014: Research Assistant on the Implantable Smart Technologies Project, University of Edinburgh. 

This  inter-disciplinary study was led by Dr Gill Haddow (STS) and Dr Shawn Harmon (Law). I planned and conducted in-depth interviews with professionals whose work related to newly emerging 'smart' and implantable medical technologies and also assisted with analysis and presentation of findings. The study explored the social and ethical implications of these new devices. An artist, Astrid Jaekel was also a member of the research team and the outputs from the study included an exhibition of work, inspired by the research data, as well as conference presentations and peer-reviewed journal articles (see below).


Haddow, G. Harmon, S. and Gilman, L. (2015) "Implantable Smart Technologies (IST): Defining the ‘Sting’ in Data and Device" Health Care Analysis, p.1-18

Harmon, S. Haddow, G. and Gilman, L. (2015) "New risks inadequately managed: the case of smart implants and medical device regulation" Law, Technology and Innovation, (7)2: 231-252

Conferences and Presentations

2014 "Making Gifts Work: Comparing UK and Danish Gamete Donors’ Perceptions of Donation," Paper presented with Alison Wheatley at BSA Human Reproduction Annual Conference, University of Lancaster

2014 "Making a name for yourself: What does it mean to be an identity-release gamete donor?" Paper presented at BSA Conference: The Sociology of Technologically Mediated Reproduction, De Montford University, Leicester

2014 "What does it mean to be a gamete donor?" Paper presented at Science and Technology Studies PhD Day, University of Edinburgh

Awarded prize for 'best presentation'