My research analyzes the way that various groups determine what counts as research and technology of security concern, and how that process of shaping things of security concern also shapes the governance system around them. It draws on and contributes to the literature on classification, boundary work, international political/technological institutions, and the co-production of social and technological systems. Topically, I am currently focused on the governance of security concerns within synthetic biology, and have an ongoing interest in the governance systems for conventional and cyber “dual-use” technology.
I am a Research Assistant Professor in the Program on Science, Technology, and Society at Tufts University, a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER), within the Centre for Research on the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CRASSH), and a Research Affiliate in the Program on Emerging Technology in the Center for International Studies at MIT.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!
- Security controls on international trade, especially the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
- The construction and governance of security concerns within synthetic biology
- Dual-use research of concern
- Responsible Innovation, responsive science, and novel public engagement
- The relationship between Science and Technology Studies (STS) scholars and those they study
- Science & Technology Studies, especially:
- The coproduction of social and knowledge systems
- Ambiguity, uncomfortable knowledge, and the social construction of non-knowledge
- Classification systems, particularly how we catergorize items as malicious or not (e.g. “dual-use” research and technology)
- International security
- Cultural Theory (building on the work of Mary Douglas)
View my Zotero reference library to see a complete list of articles I work with.
Millet, Piers, Thomas Binz, Sam Weiss Evans, Todd Kuiken, Ken Oye, Megan J. Palmer, Kathrina Yambao, Samuel Yu, Cécile van der Vlugt (under review) “Developing a comprehensive, adaptive, and international biosafety and biosecurity programme for advanced biotechnology: the iGEM perspective.” Applied Biosafety 24(2): 64-71.
Buchthal, Joanna, Sam Weiss Evans, Jeantine Lunshof, Sam R. Telford, and Kevin M. Esvelt (2019). “Mice Against Ticks: An experimental community-guided effort to prevent tick-borne disease by altering the shared environment.” Philosophical Transactions B.
Evans, Sam Weiss, and Megan J. Palmer. 2018. “Anomaly Handling and the Politics of Gene Drives.” Journal of Responsible Innovation 5 (sup 1): 223–42.
Kathleen Vogel, Brian Balmer, Sam Weiss Evans, Inga Kroener, Matsumoto Miwao, and Brian Rappert (2017) “Knowledge and Security.” In Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, edited by Ulrike Felt, Rayvon Fouché, Clark A. Miller, and Laurel Smith-Doerr, 4th ed., Chapter 33. MIT Press.
Evans, Sam Weiss (2016) “Biosecurity Governance for the Real World.” Issues in Science and Technology. 33(1):84-88.Older Publications
Evans, Sam Weiss, and Emma Frow (2015) “‘Taking Care’ in Synthetic Biology,” in Rappert, Brian and Balmer, Brian (eds) The Shadows of Science: How its Social and Security Implications Disappear. Palgrave. 2015.
Evans, Sam Weiss (2015) “Book Review: Vulnerability in Technological Cultures: New Directions in Research and Governance. Edited by Anique Hommels, Jessica Mesman and Wiebe E. Bijker.”Science and Public Policy. 42(4): 594-5.
Evans, Sam Weiss, Sheila Jasanoff, Jane Calvert, Jason Delborne, Robert Doubleday, Emma Frow, Silvio Funtowicz, Brian Green, Dave H. Guston, Ben Hurlbut, Alan Irwin, Pierre-Benoit Joly, Jennifer Kuzma, Megan Palmer, Margaret Race, Jack Stilgoe, Andy Stirling, James Wilsdon, David Winickoff, Brian Wynne, and Laurie Zoloth (2014) “Synthetic Biology: Missing the Point.” in Nature. 510(7504): 218.
Evans, Sam Weiss (2014) Revising Export Control List. A report of the Flemish Peace Institute. March.
Evans, Sam Weiss (2014) “Dual Use Research of Concern: Comments on the US Government’s Proposed Policy.”
Evans, Samuel A W, and Walter Valdiva (2012) “Export controls and the tension between academic freedom and national security,” in Minerva. 50(2): 169-190).
Evans, Samuel A (2009) Technological Ambiguity & the Wassenaar Arrangement. DPhil thesis, University of Oxford, submitted Trinity Term.
Evans, Samuel A (2004) The Governance of Technology at the World Trade Organization: a cultural theory framework. Dissertation for the degree of Masters of Science in Management Research, University of Oxford.
Bryant, R. G., S. A. Evans, E. R. Long Jr., R. L. Fox (2000) “Thermal and Mechanical Characterization of NASA High Displacement Actuators For Satellite Instrumentation.” Smart Structures and Materials 2000: Industrial and Commercial Applications of Smart Structures Technologies, Proceedings of SPIE Vol. 3991. 195-200.
“Anomaly handling and the politics of gene drives.” Invited presentation to the 1st Annual Conference on the Ethics and Social Implications of Gene Drives, University of California, San Diego, 10 May 2019.
“Experiments in thinking differently about security and the broader aspects of bioengineering.” Invited presentation to the launch of Phase II of the DARPA Safegenes program, Washington, DC, 7 May 2019.
“Governing security concerns in bioengineering beyond lists and dual-use.” Invited presentation to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Committee on Safeguarding the Bioeconomy, Washington, DC, 1 May 2019.
“This is not your ‘father’s’ biosecurity: experiments in novel security governance at the edge of innovation.” Invited lecture, World Social Science Forum. Fukuoka, Japan, 28 September 2018.
“Threats to democracy: balancing democratic ideals and security concerns.” Paper presented at the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST), Lancaster University, 26 July 2018.
“Is This a Threat? Governing Security Concerns in Science and Technology.” Invited lecture in the Vienna STS Talks series, Department of Science and Technology Studies, University of Vienna, 6 June 2018.
“Reshaping Biodesign Governance Assumptions.” Invited paper given to the Workshop on Governance of Emerging Biodesign Technologies, University of Tokyo, 19 January 2018.
“Security concerns in emerging technology: creating learning feedback loops,” Invited talk given to the Arizona Biosecurity Workshop, Arizona State University, 7-8 December 2017.
(With Megan Palmer) “Science governance through anomaly-handling: the case of gene drives,” Invited talk, EnLIGHTeNING Lunch Seminar Series, School for the Future of Innovation and Society, Arizona State Univeristy, 6 December 2017.
“Reimagining the governance of objects of security concern,” Invited talk presented at Workshop on Regulating Knowledge Flows in the Global Age, Georgetown Univeristy, 8-10 November 2017.
“Make me an anomaly and I will raise/raze a world: making objects of security non-concern in synthetic biology and geoengineering,” Presentation to the Society for the Social Studies of Science Annual Meeting, Boston, 29 August 2017.
“Dual-Use in Perspective,” Invited talk presented at the Workshop on Maintaining Innovation and Security in Biotechnology: Lessons Learned from Nuclear, Chemical and Information Technologies, Lawerence Livermore National Laboratory, 1 August 2017.Older Presentations
“Know the signs of hubristic governance!” Invited talk presented to the Workshop on Governing Complex and Emerging Technologies: Lessons for the Governance of Climate Engineering, Berkeley, California, 9 February 2017.
“Constructing New Security Concerns in the Life Sciences,” Presentation to the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Dual Use Research of Concern: Options for Future Management, Washington DC, 4 January 2017.
“Words of Caution in Making Objects of Security Concern,” Presentation to the Cambridge Catastrophic Risk Conference, Clare College, Cambridge University, 12-14 December 2016.
“Bugs, features, and the handling of anomalies in governing gene drives,” (With Megan Palmer) Presentation to the Harvard University Program on Science, Technology and Society Fellows Group, 22 March 2016.
“It’s not a bug, it’s a feature: Policy and political aspects of gene drives,” (with Megan Palmer) Invited paper for the NSF workshop on Gene Drives at North Carolina State University, 25 February 2016.
“Horizon scanning for responsible innovation,” Presentation given to the Synthetic Biology Leadership Excellence Accelerator Program, Asilomar Conference Center, 17 March 2015.
“Taking care of security in practice: Some notes from the ground as we all get DURCed,” Presentation for Biological and Chemical Security in an Age of Responsible Innovation, Royal Society, London, 19-21 November 2014.
“Is this a threat? The (un)making of security concerns in emerging technology,” paper given to the Harvard History of Science seminar series, 21 October 2014.
“Taking care of security in synthetic biology research”, paper given at the side event of the Biological Weapons Convention Meeting of Experts, 6 August 2014. Geneva. Slides.
“Broader Aspects of Bioengineering,” presentation to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 18 June 2014.
“Making Security a Matter of Non-Concern in Synthetic Biology,” presentation at the Year 8 Synberc Spring Retreat, University of California, Berkeley, 26 March 2014.
“The Value of Collaborative Framings in Gaining Access to, and Analyzing, Security Concerns in Research and Development” paper presented at the Society for the Social Studies of Science annual conference, San Diego, California, 12 October 2013.
“Getting Security Off the Mind: When is It Ok to Not Think About the Security Aspects of Synthetic Biology” paper presented at the Issues and Non-issues in Science and Medicine Symposium, University of Exeter, 28 September 2013.
“Whoops! How Did That Get Through? Knowledge and Ignorance at the Intersection of Academia and National Security” paper presented at the Society for the Social Studies of Science annual conference, Copenhagen, 16 October 2012.
(with Walter Valdivia) “Export Controls and the Tensions Between Academic Freedom and National Security,” poster presented at the Gordon Science and Technology Policy Conference, Waterville Valley Resort Waterville Valley, NH, August 5-10, 2012.
“Technology Control and Imagined International Orders,” paper presented to the Society for Philosophy and Technology conference, Denton Texas, 27 May 2011. Also presented to the UC Berkeley Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, & Society Brownbag seminar.
“States, borders, and security: exports controls in physical space and cyberspace,” invited paper presented to Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation and the Program in Science,Technology, and Society, 10 January 2011. Also given at the Naval Postgrad School, 11 January 2011. Slides.
“Imaginaries of State Security”, paper given at the Science Democracy Network annual meeting, in conjunction with the British Royal Society’s 350th celebrations, Kavli House, UK, 28-30 2010.
“The Bounds of Applicability of Export Controls”, paper given at The Rightful Place of Science? conference at CSPO, Arizona State University, 16-19 May 2010.
“Finding Common Ambiguity: what is left out of dual-use technology definitions”, paper given at the Uncertainty: Ambiguity and Doubt in Knowledge Production conference at Stanford University, 23-24 April 2010.
“Technological Ambiguity in Export Controls: A tool for legitimacy?”, invited presentation to the Cornell University Peace Studies Program, jointly sponsored by the Cornell Department of Science & Technology Studies, 11 March 2010. (PDF of slides; Streaming quicktime movie of the slides)
“How do we prevent the malicious use of technology? Can we?” Presentation the the New College Graduate Colloquium, University of Oxford, 22 October 2008.
“Is it possible to define technologies to be controlled?” Talk given to the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies, California on 26 August 2008.
“Governing trade in dual-use items: the problem of definition” Paper prepared for The 2008 Oxford/Sciences-Po Doctoral Seminar on Regional and Global Institutions in the 21st Century, 1 May 2008.
“‘You want to control technology? Fine, give me a list.’ ‘It’s not that easy, sir.'” Talk given to the James Martin 21st Century School Advanced Research Seminar Series, University of Oxford, 16 November 2007.
“International Relations, Cultural Theory, and STS: Can these children learn to play together?”, Presentation given to the James Martin Institute Work in Progress Seminar, University of Oxford, 15 May 2007.
“The Wassenaar Arrangement: The unsexiest of international regimes”, Invited talk given to CPASS Speaker Series, Georgetown University, 11 April 2007.
“Governing the Unknown Knowns: A reply to Jerry Ravetz”, Presentation given to the James Martin Institute Work in Progress Seminar, University of Oxford, 31 October 2006.
“Defining Dual-Use: An international assessment of the discourses around technology”, Talk given to the ESRC New Directions in Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation Workshop, King’s College London, 27 February 2006.
“Pluralistic Tools for Policy Analysis,” Talk given to the Mid-Summer YSSP Workshop, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria, 20 July 2005.
- Assistant Research Professor, Program on Science, Technology, and Society, Tufts University (Spring 2017 – present)
- Visiting Fellow, Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER), and Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CRASSH), University of Cambridge (2018-2019)
- Research Affiliate, Center for International Studies, MIT (2014-present)
- Guest Professor, Department of Science and Technology Studies, University of Vienna (Summer 2018)
- Research Fellow, Program on Science, Technology, and Society, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (2015-2018)
- Associate Researcher, John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University (2015-2016)
- Research Fellow, Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, & Society, University of California, Berkeley (Fall 2014)
- Associate Director for Research, Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, & Society, University of California, Berkeley (2011-2014)
- Research Associate, Program on Science, Technology, & Society, Harvard University (2011-2012)
- Postdoctoral Fellow, Program on Science, Technology, & Society (John F. Kennedy School of Government), and the School of Engineering & Applied Science, Harvard University (2009-2011)
- Visiting Researcher, Security Studies Program, Center for Peace and Security Studies, Georgetown University (2006-2007)
- Research Assistant to Sir Crispin Tickell, Policy Foresight Programme, University of Oxford (2004-2008)
- Young Scientist Summer Program, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Vienna (2005)
- Summer Scholar, NASA Langley Research Center (1999-2001)
Grants & Awards
- “Building feedback loops for responsible innovation” sub-award from the NSF Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (Synberc) (2015-2016). (Co-PI for overall Synberc NSF award SA5283-11210)
- “Modes of engagement for social scientists and synthetic biologists” sub-award from the NSF Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (Synberc) (2014-2015). (Co-PI for overall Synberc NSF award SA5283-11210)
- (with Prof. David Winickoff) “Building options for redesigning synthetic biology’s security regulatory environment.” sub-award from the NSF Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (Synberc) (2013-2014). Main NSF award number: SA5283-11210.
- Co-PI (with Profs. Brian Rappert, Brian Balmer) “The Formulation and Non-formulation of Security Concerns: Preventing the Destructive Application of the Life Sciences.” UK Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Science and Security Programme. Grant no. ES/K011308/1. (2013-2014)
- Wellcome Trust “Building a Sustainable Capacity in Dual-Use Bioethics” sub-award for “‘Taking care’ in synthetic biology’ book chapter. (2013).
- (with Professor David Winickoff) “Science Governance and Risk Futures in Synthetic Biology and Geoengineering.” Seed grant from the University of California Institute for Global Conflict and Cooperation. (2012-2013)
- PI “Revising Multilateral Export Control Lists.” Contract with the Flemish Peace Institute. (2012-2013)
- Next Generation Science and Technology Policy Leader (2010) Awarded by the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes, Arizona State University.
- Dan Gowler Award (2004) Awarded for the best dissertation in the Management Faculty, University of Oxford.
- “Making Security: Science, Technology, and the Governance of Threats” (2018) Department of Science and Technology Studies, University of Vienna
- “Security, Science, and Technology” (2016) Harvard University Graduate Course, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
- “Technoscience & the State” (2016) Tufts University Undergraduate core course for degree in Science and Technology Studies
- “Science & Security” (2015) undergraduate course, History of Science, Harvard University
- “Science & Society” (2013) History undergraduate course, University of California, Berkeley
- “Introduction to Technology & Society” (2010-2012) Undergraduate core course, Harvard University. Head Teaching Fellow
- “Science & Security”(2005-2006) Tutorials for Stanford House (visiting students), University of Oxford.
- “Technology and Innovation Strategy”(2004-2005) MBA Programme, University of Oxford. Teaching Assistant.
- DPhil (2009) New College, University of Oxford. Thesis title: Technological Ambiguity & the Wassenaar Arrangement. Supervisor: Prof. Steve Rayner
- MSc in Management Research (2004) New College, University of Oxford. Dissertation title: The governance of biotechnology at the World Trade Organization: a cultural theory framework. Supervisor: Prof. Steve Rayner
- Visiting Student (2002-2003) University of Oxford
- BA in Philosophy and Physics (2002) St. Olaf College, MN, USA
- Human Practices Judge and Committee Member for the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition (2013-present)
- Professional Development Coordinator, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford (2007-2008)
- Member of the Steering Committee for the Oxford Intelligence Group (2004-2009)
- President, Oxford University Strategic Studies Group (2003-2005)