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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Pablo Schyfter

Pablo Schyfter
Dr Pablo Schyfter
Senior Lecturer
Science Technology and Innovation Studies School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
3.32 Chisholm House High School Yards Edinburgh UK EH1 1LZ
+44 (0)131 650 4262
Research Interests
Sociology of knowledge, Science and technology studies, Gender, Feminist Theory, Engineering studies, Phenomenology, Philosophy of biology, Philosophy of technology

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • Thursdays, 14:00-16:00 (or by appointment)


Pablo is a native of Costa Rica, but carried out his undergraduate studies at Stanford University in northern California. He graduated with degrees in Science, Technology and Society (B.A., Honours) and Drama (B.A.) in 2005. He obtained an MSc. (Honours) and a Ph.D. from the Science Studies Unit at Edinburgh.

His doctoral work focused on social orders (esp. gender), technological artefacts and subjectivity, with a theoretical emphasis on the performative theory of social institutions. After completing his doctoral studies in 2009, Pablo returned to California to serve as a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford's Department of Bioengineering. In 2012, he joined Science, Technology and Innovation Studies as a lecturer.


Research Interests

Sociology of knowledge, Science and technology studies, Gender, Feminist Theory, Engineering studies, Phenomenology, Philosophy of biology, Philosophy of technology

Research Overview

I have a background in science and technology studies (STS), but my work engages with other areas in sociology and philosophy. My empirical research has focused on gender and technological artefacts and professions, and the nascent biotechnological field of synthetic biology. Much of this work has aimed to identify and harness social theoretical and philosophical tools from a range of authors and make use of them for STS. These include post-structuralist theories of subjectivity, phenomenological writing on technology, and pragmatist conceptualisations of knowledge. This type of research reflects my interest in exploring relationships between STS and philosophical thought. Presently, I am conducting research on the character of engineering knowledge by looking at metrological tools and procedures in synthetic biology and control engineering. I am also conducting research on the ongoing construction of gender politics and identities in synthetic biology.

Current Projects

Engineering Life (PI: Jane Calvert, funded by the European Research Council), 2014-2017.

Completed Projects

Women and the Engineering of Biology (PI, funded by The Moray Endowment Fund), 2015.

Synthetic Aesthetics (PIs: Jane CalvertAlistair ElfickDrew Endy, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the National Science Foundation), 2010-2011.


Guidance and Feedback Hours

Thursdays, 14:00-16:00 (or by appointment)

PhD Supervision

PhD Topics

Gender, science and technology; sociology of knowledge; synthetic biology; engineering studies; poststructuralism and phenomenology; philosophies of biology and technology

Find out more about the programmes that I am involved with:

PhD in Science and Technology Studies; MSc (R) Science and Technology Studies


Schyfter, P. (2015). "Metrology and varieties of making in synthetic biology," in O. Schlaudt and L. Huber (eds.), Standardization in Measurement (pp. 25-38). London: Pickering & Chatto.

Schyfter, P. (2015). "Function by agreement," Social Epistemology, 29(2): 185-206.

Ginsberg, A.D., J. Calvert, P. Schyfter, A. Elfick, & D. Endy (2014). Synthetic Aesthetics. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Schyfter, P. (2013). "How a 'drive to make' shapes synthetic biology," Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 44(4B): 632-640.

Schyfter, P., E. Frow, & J. Calvert (2013). "Synthetic biology: Making biology into an engineering discipline," Engineering Studies, 5(1): 1-5.

Schyfter, P. (2013). "Propellers and promoters: Emerging engineering knowledge in aeronautics and synthetic biology," Engineering Studies, 5(1): 6-25.

Schyfter, P. (2012). "Standing reserves of function: A Heideggerian reading of synthetic biology," Philosophy & Technology, 25(2):199-219.

Schyfter, P. (2012). "Technological biology? Things and kinds in synthetic biology," Biology & Philosophy, 27(1): 29-48.

Schyfter, P. (2010). "Género y tecnología," in H. Hiriart (Ed.), Mexico: Doscientos Años, Ochenta Voces, SEDENA.

Schyfter, P. (2009). "The bootstrapped artefact: A collectivist account of technology ontology, functions, and normativity," Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part A, 40(1): 102-111.

Schyfter, P. (2008). "Tackling the 'body inescapable' in sport: Body-artefact kinesthetics, embodied skill, and the community of practice in lacrosse masculinity," Body & Society, 14(3): 81-103.

Schyfter, P. (2001). "La intolerancia es intolerancia," in A. Facio (ed.), Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos: Textos y Commentarios Inusuales. ILANUD.