Environmental and public policy concerns have informed my published research and a substantial body of my teaching responsibilities since the early 1990s. I have two primary research interests: the social, technical and economic factors involved in the development of premodern and early modern machine technologies, and the obstacles and enablers to global action on human-induced climate change and the decarbonisation of global energy systems. I have an international reputation as a researcher in the former field, and a growing national and international reputation in the latter.
My research in the former field is informed by theories and methodologies developed in social and economic history, post-processual archaeology and the history, philosophy and sociology of science and technology. My research in the latter field is primarily informed by theories and methodologies developed in science and technology studies, policy studies, innovation studies, critical political economy, and environmental sociology.
I currently have research links with Sussex Energy Group at Sussex University, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, the Department of Geography at Glasgow University, and the Department for the History of Science at the University of Oklahoma.
Together with my research partner Professor Paul Bishop in the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow, we were successful in March 2020 in securing a large research project grant from the Leverhulme Trust (UK) focusing on the transition from water-power to steam-power in the British textile industry during the long 19th century. The project combines my interests in history and archaeology with contemporary politics and policy.
Together with Dr Steven Walton at Michigan Technical University, I am co-editor of Brill Academic Publisher's 'Technology and Change in History' book series, and a regular reviewer for Technology and Culture, Energy Research and Social Science and several other journals in archaeology and the history of science. Dr Walton and I are currently translating Italian, French and German commentaries on De Architectura by the Roman architect and engineer, Vitruvius, which will be published by the University of Oklahoma and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science as part of their Open Online Editions book series.
In August 2020 I completed editing a special issue of Technology and Culture featuring several groundbreaking papers in the history of early modern technology, which will appear in late 2020, and a book chapter detailing the political obstacles to a sustainable energy transition for a Handbook of Anti-Environmentalism, to be published in 2021 by Edward Elgar.
I also have a background in journalism and policy development and am a regular contributor to The Conversation, Michael West Media and Pearls and Irritations.