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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Meritxell Ramirez-i-Olle

Research interests

UPDATE Jan 2016: I obtained my Ph.D. in November 2015 and I am currently working as a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at the University College London. For any inquiries please contact me at

My thesis presents an empirical study of dendroclimatology, with the purpose of contributing to a wider understanding of the way scientists generate knowledge about climate change. Dendroclimatology is a science that produces knowledge about past climates from the analysis of tree growth. 

Tree rings

I have studied the work of a group of dendroclimatologists during more than three years, joining them on fieldwork and sampling expeditions in the Scottish Highlands, observing how they generate data from tree samples to reconstruct past temperatures in Scotland and examining how they have mobilised a Scottish temperature reconstruction in a scientific debate over historical changes in climate.

My thesis develops two parallel narratives about the practice of making dendroclimatological knowledge and the roles of trust and scepticism in this process. In describing how dendroclimatologists work to extract information about past climates from trees, I identify the importance of trust relationships and scepticism at each stage of their work. In the past, scholars studying how scientists conduct their work have emphasised the role of either trust or scepticism, and have paid relatively little attention to examining the relationship between the two. 

I became interested in dendroclimatology because this discipline has become scientifically and politically relevant in the last decades. Tree-ring based climate reconstructions are now commonly used in climate change assessments like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's reports. More recently, dendroclimatological work has been the focus of public scrutiny and criticism during the so-called 'hockey stick graph' (image below) and 'Climategate' controversies.

My research topic is part of the subfield of study of the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge (SSK) and an interdisciplinary research area called Science and Technology Studies (STS). As such, I study science as a social activity and I explore the social dynamics involved in the process of creating scientific knowledge. This tradition of research was pioneered, among others, by members of the University of Edinburgh back in the 1960s. If you want to know more about STS, watch the video that my colleagues in Edinburgh have done. 

If you want to read a few pieces of work and articles I have written (including a detailed abstract of my thesis) please visit my profile.  

 PhD supervisors 

Awards and Funding 

  • Award to the best student presentation at the 9th International Conference on Dendrochronology in Melbourne, January 2014. 
  • Sue Grant Service Award 2013 for my voluntary work with communities in the School of Social and Political Sciences, Scotland and in Catalonia. 
  • Award for the best PhD presentation in the PhD conference 2013; Science, Technology and Innovation Studies. 
  • Student-Led Project Grant 2013 to organise a mediation and conflict resolution workshop for social researchers; School of Social and Political Sciences
  • ESRC Quota Nomination Award (‘Tuition fees’ only), studentship number: ES/I017917/1, September 2010- September 2014.
  • ‘Sa Nostra’ Foundation Scholar for Postgraduate Studies, September 2009-September 2010.
  • Scholarship for last year undergraduate students [‘Beca collaboració per a estudiants d’últim curs’], Spanish Ministry of Education and Sports, December 2008- March 2009.
  • ERASMUS studentship, Univerzita Karlove v Praze (University of Charles), Prague, Czech Republic, September 2007- February 2008.

Peer-reviewed publications 

Ramírez-i-Ollé, Meritxell (2015). "Rhetorical Strategies for Scientific Authority: a Boundary-Work Analysis of ‘Climategate’", Science as Culture, Vol. 24, Issue 4, pp. 384-411. DOI:10.1080/09505431.2015.1041902


  • 2015 - PhD in Science and Technology Studies, The University of Edinburgh. Title of the thesis: “The Making of Dendroclimatological Knowledge: a Symmetrical Account of Trust and Scepticism in Science”. Examiners: Prof Steve Yearley and Prof Alan Irwin. 

    2011. MSc by Research with Distinction in Science and Technology Studies, University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

    2010. Taught MSc in Science and Technology Policy and Management, University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

    2004 - 2009. BSc in Public Administration and Political Science, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Catalonia.

    2009. Teaching Certificate for secondary education, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Catalonia.

    2007. ERASMUS scholar, Univerzita Karlove v Praze (University of Charles), Prague, Czech Republic. 

Teaching experience

  • Social and Political Enquiry [2010, 2011: Tutor]
  • Introduction to Sustainable Development  [2011, 2012: Senior Tutor]
  • Science and the Environment [2011, 2012, 2013: Senior Tutor]
  • Sociology 1A: The sociological Imagination: Individuals and Society [2012: Tutor]
  • Doing and Designing Social Research [2012: Tutor]
  • Data Collection [2013, Tutor]

University involvement  

  • 2013-2014: Co-organiser of the PhD ISSTI seminar:
  • 2011. Elaboration of the market research report for MSc Programme in Science, Technology and Innovation. 
  • 2010- 2012. Research co-representative for Science, Technology and Innovation Studies.