Fern Wickson

Title: Senior Scientist (15% position)
Phone: +47 77 62 31 37
E-mail: fern.wickson@genok.no

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Research Interests

Fern has research interests in environmental philosophy and ethics, the politics of risk and uncertainty, the governance of emerging technologies (e.g. biotechnology and nanotechnology), and the theory and practice of cross-disciplinary research.

Fern completed a cross-disciplinary PhD (2002-2006) with the Schools of Biological Sciences and Science, Technology and Society at the University of Wollongong in Australia.

She undertook a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science double degree at the Australian National University from 1995-1999 and attained a first class Honours degree in Environmental Politics from the University of Tasmania in 2001.


Public presentations

Fern speaking at a meeting of the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on
Future Biotechnology Products and Opportunities to Enhance Capabilities of the Biotechnology Regulatory System


Fern giving a public ‘breakfast lecture’ for the Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory board on assessing social and ethical aspects of GMOs


Current Research Projects

Project Manager
The Agri/Cultures Project: Operationalising Norway’s Gene technology Act and its Requirement for Social and Ethical Justifiability” (The Agri/Cultures Project)
Funded by the FRIPRO programme of the Norwegian Research Council. Start date July 2014.

Conserving the Genetic Biodiversity of Maize in Mexico: Understanding a complex problem and developing participatory solutions” (biodiverSEEDy)
Funded by the Latin America Programme of the Norwegian Research Council. Start date September 2014.

Project partner
Excellence in science and innovation for Europe by adopting the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation” (NewHoRRIzon) Funding: European Commission Horizon 2020 program. Start date May 2017.

National initiative towards developing a common approach to the regulatory testing of manufactured nanomaterials” (NorNANoREG)
Funded by the NANOTEK2021 programme of the Norwegian Research Council. Start date October 2014.

“A common European approach to the regulatory testing of nanomaterials” (NANoREG).
Funded by the European Commission. Start date 2013

“Virtual Institute for Responsible Innovation”
Funded by the US National Science Foundation. Start date October 2013.

“International Research Cluster on NanoSafety”
Funded by the South Australian Collaboration Pathway Program Scheme. Start date June 2013.

Project Advisor
“Public Involvement with Exhibition on Responsible Research and Innovation” (PIER)
Funded by the European Commission. Start date March 2014.

“Responsibility as an Integral Component of Digital Research Practices in Bio- and Nanotechnology”
Funded by the ELSA & BIOTEK2021 Programmes of the Norwegian Research Council. Start date August 2014.


1214201094837pmSelected Publications


Kjølberg, K. & Wickson, F. (2010) Nano meets Macro: Social Perspectives on Nanoscale Sciences and Technologies (Pan Stanford Publishing: Singapore).

Contributions in Peer Reviewed Journals

Lombi, E., Donner, E., Dusinska, M. and Wickson, F. (2019) “A One Health approach to managing the applications and implications of nanotechnologies in agricultureNature Nanotechnology 14: 523-531

Binimelis, Rosa and Wickson, Fern. (2018) “The troubled relationship between GMOs and beekeeping: an exploration of socioeconomic impacts in Spain and Uruguay” Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (published online 17 September 2018) https://doi.org/10.1080/21683565.2018.1514678

Agapito-Tenfen, Sarah Z. and Wickson, Fern. (2017) “Challenges for transgene detection in landraces and wild relatives: learning from 15 years of debate over GM maize in MexicoBiodiversity Conservation https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-017-1471-0

Agapito-Tenfen, S., Rivera Lopez, F., Mallah, N., Abou-Slemayne, G., Trtikova M., Nodari, R.O. and Wickson, F. (2017). “Transgene flow in Mexican maize revisited: Socio-biological analysis across two contrasting farmer communities and seed management systems”, Ecology and Evolution 1-12. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.3415 (open access)

van Hove, L. and Wickson, F. (2017). “Responsible Research Is Not Good Science: Divergences Inhibiting the Enactment of RRI in Nanosafety“, Nanoethics published online 21 September 2017. DOI 10.1007/s11569-017-0306-5

Wickson, F., Preston, C., Binimelis, R., Herrero, A., Hartley, S., Wynberg, R., and Wynne, B. (2017). “Addressing socio-economic and ethical considerations in biotechnology governance: The potential of a new politics of care” Food Ethics. DOI 10.1007/s41055-017-0014-4 (open access)

Hjorth, R., van Hove, L. and Wickson, F. (2017). “What can nanosafety learn from drug development? The feasibility of “safety by design”“, Nanotoxicology.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17435390.2017.1299891

Herrero, A., Binimelis, R. and Wickson, F. (2017). “Just existing is resisting: The everyday struggle against the expansion of GM crops in Spain, Sociologia Ruralis DOI: 10.1111/soru.12166

Pascual, U., Balvanera, P., Díaz, S., Pataki, G., Roth, E., Stenseke, M., Watson, R. T., Dessane, E. B., Islar, M., Kelemen, E., Maris, V., Quaas, M., Subramanian, S. M., Wittmer, H., Adlan, A., Hahn, S., Al-Hafedh, Y. S., Amankwah, E., Asah, S. T., Berry, P., Bilgen, A., Breslow, S. J., Bullock, C., Caceres, D., Daly-Hassen, H., Figueroa, E., Golden, C. D., Gomez-Baggethun, E., May, P. H., Mead, A., O’Farrell, P., Pandit, R., Pengue, W., Pichis-Madruga, R., Popa, F., Preston, S., Pacheco-Balanza, D., Saarikoski, H., Strassburg, B. B., van den Belt, M., Verma, M., Wickson, F. and Yagi, N. (2017). “Valuing nature’s contributions to people: the IPBES approach”, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 26:7-16. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2016.12.006 (open access)

Wickson, F., Binimelis, R. and Herrero, A. (2016) “Should Organic Agriculture Maintain Its Opposition to GM? New Techniques Writing the Same Old Story“, Sustainability , 8(11), 1105; doi:10.3390/su8111105 (open access)

Wickson, F. (2016). “Do We Care About Synbiodiversity? Questions arising from an investigation into whether there are GM crops in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault”, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics. DOI 10.1007/s10806-016-9634-7 (open access)

Hartley, S., Gillund, F., van Hove, L. and Wickson, F. (2016). “Essential Features of Responsible Governance of Agricultural Biotechnology“, PLoS Biology 14(5): e1002453. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1002453

Preston, C. and Wickson, F. (2016) “Broadening the lens for the governance of emerging technologies: Care ethics and agricultural biotechnology” Technology in Society 45:48-57.

Holderbaum, D.F., Cuhra, M., Wickson, F., Orth, A.I., Nodari, R., Bøhn, T. (2015) “Chronic Responses of Daphnia magna Under Dietary Exposure to Leaves of a Transgenic (Event MON810) Bt-Maize Hybrid and its Conventional Near-Isoline” Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A: Current Issues 78(15): 998-1007.

Miller, G. and Wickson, F. (2015). “Risk Analysis of Nanomaterials: Exposing Nanotechnology’s Naked Emperor” Review of Policy Research 32(4): 485-512.

Hilbeck, A., Binimelis, R., Defarge, N., Steinbrecher, R., Szekacs, A., Wickson, F., Antoniou, M., Bereano, P.L., Clark, E.A., Hansen, M., Novotny, E., Heinemann, J., Meyer, H., Shiva, V., Wynne, B. (2015). “No scientific consensus on GMO safety”, Environmental Sciences Europe 27(4): 1-6.

Wickson, F., Hartmann, N.B., Hjorth, R., Foss-Hansen, S., Wynne, B. and Baun, A. (2014) “Balancing Scientific Tensions” Nature Nanotechnology 9: 870. doi:10.1038/nnano.2014.237

Wickson, F. (2014) “Environmental protection goals, policy and publics in the European regulation of GMOs” Ecological Economics DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2014.09.025

Wickson, F. And Carew, A.L. (2014) “Quality criteria and indicators for responsible research and innovation: learning from transdisciplinarity” Journal of Responsible Innovation 1(3): 254-273

Wickson, F. and Forsberg, E-M. (2014) “Standardising Responsibility? The Significance of Interstitial SpacesScience and Engineering Ethics DOI 10.1007/s11948-014-9602-4

Wickson, F., Strand, R., Kjølberg, K. (2014) “The Walkshop Approach to Science and Technology EthicsScience and Engineering Ethics online first DOI 10.1007/s11948-014-9526-z

Wickson, F., Bøhn, T., Wynne, B., Hilbeck, A., Funtowicz, S. (2013) “Science-based risk assessment requires careful evaluation of all studiesNature Biotechnology 31: 1077-1078

Wickson, F. & Wynne, B. (2012) “Ethics of Science for Policy in the Environmental Governance of Biotechnology: MON810 Maize in Europe” Ethics, Policy and Environment 15(3): 321-340.

Grieger, K.D., Wickson, F., Andersen, H.B., & Renn, O. (2012) “Improving Risk Governance of Emerging Technologies through Public Engagement: The Neglected Case of Nanoremediation?” International Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society 10: 61-78.

Wickson, F., Gillund, F. and Myhr, A.I. (2012) “Tratando as nanopartículas com precaução: reconhecendo a incerteza qualitativa na avaliação científica do risco” Política & Sociedade 11(20): 171-204.

Wynne, B. & Wickson, F. (2012) Reply to J. N. Perry et al. EMBO Reports 13(6): 482-483.

Wickson, F. & Wynne, B. (2012) “The anglerfish deception: The light of proposed reform in the regulation of GM crops hides underlying problems in EU science and governance” EMBO Reports 13(2): 100-105.

Wickson, F. (2011) Gobernanza nanotecnológica: por qué no podemos confiar en evaluaciones de riesgo científicas. Mundo Nano Vol. 4, No. 1, enero-junio, 2011

Wickson, F. (2011) Technology: Nanomaterials need flexible regulation. Nature 476, p. 283

Slaattelid, R.T., Wickson, F. (2011) Imag(in)ing the Nano-scale: Introduction. NanoEthics 5 (2): 159-163

Wickson, F., Delgado, A. & Kjølberg, K.L. (2010) “Who or What is ‘The Public’?” Nature Nanotechnology 5: 757-758

Wickson, F. (2010) “Mosquitos: Just how much biodiversity does humanity need?” Nature 466: 1041

Wickson, F., Grieger, K., & Baun, A. (2010) “Nature and Nanotechnology: Science, Ideology & Policy” International Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society 8(1): 5-23

Delgado, A., Kjølberg, K.L. & Wickson, F. (2010) “Public engagement coming of age: From theory to practice in STS encounters with nanotechnology” Public Understanding of Science 20(6): 826-845.

Carew, A. & Wickson, F. (2010) “The TD Wheel: A heuristic to shape, support and evaluate transdisciplinary research” Futures Futures 42: 1146-1155

Wickson, F. (2009) “Activists should be consulted in animal testing decisions” Nature 463, p.293

Wickson, F. (2009) “Extended Review of Risk Assessment: A Case Study in Reliability Rating and Reflective Questioning” Journal of Risk Research 12(6), pp.749-770.

Wickson, F. (2008) “What is nature, if it’s more than just a place without people?” Nature 456, p.29.

Wickson, F. (2008) “Narratives of Nature and Nanotechnology” Nature Nanotechnology 3(6), pp.313-315.

Kjølberg, K., Strand, R., Delgado, G.C., Wickson, F. (2008) “Models of Governance for Converging Technologies” Technology Assessment and Strategic Management 20(1), pp. 83-97.

Wickson, F., Nepstad, R., Am, T. & Winkler, M. (2008) “Reflections on Philosophy of Nanoscience from Nanoscience Practitioners” Nordic Journal of Applied Ethics (Etikk i Praksis) 2(2), pp.73-92.

Russell, A.W., Wickson, F., and Carew, A.L. (2008) “Transdisciplinary research: context, contradictions and capacity” Futures 40(5), pp. 460-472.

Wickson, F. (2007) “Public engagement means listening as well as talking” Nature 448/9, p.644.

Kjølberg, K. and Wickson, F. (2007) ‘Social and Ethical Interactions with Nano: Mapping the early literature’ NanoEthics 1:2, p.89-104.

Wickson, F. (2007) “From Risk to Uncertainty in the Regulation of GMOs: Social Theory and Australian Practice” New Genetics and Society 26(3), pp. 325-339.

Wickson, F., Carew, A.L. and Russell, A.W. (2006) “Transdisciplinary research: characteristics, quandaries and quality” Futures 38:9, pp.1046-1059.

Wickson, F. (2005) “Australia’s Environmental Regulation of Genetically Modified Organisms: risk and uncertainty, science and precaution” Griffith Journal of the Environment Issue 1, June.

Wickson, F. (2005) “Environmental Decision Making: Emerging Conceptualisations of Uncertainty and Precaution” Rhizome volume 1, issue 1, pg. 147-162.

Wickson, F. (2004) “Australia’s Regulation of Genetically Modified Crops: Are We Risking Sustainability?” Australian Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society Issue 2, Autumn.

Policy Briefs

Wickson, F., Nielsen, K.N. & Quist, D. (2011) Nano and the Environment: Potential risks, real uncertainties and urgent issues Biosafety Brief 2011/01

Wickson, F. (2009) What you should know about nano The Australia Institute, Policy Brief 8 ISSN 1836-9014

Book Chapters

Preston, Christopher and Wickson, Fern. (2019). “Ethics and Governance” in H. Dressel (Ed) Gene Drives: A report on their science, applications, social aspects, ethics and regulations. Critical Scientists Switzerland, European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility and Vereinigung Deutscher Wissenschaftler. Available at https://genedrives.ch/report

Noer Lie, S. A., and Wickson, F. (2018). “Trans-ecology and Post-sustainability” in Posthumanism: The Future of Homo Sapiens, edited by Michael Bess and Diana Walsh Pasulka. Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks (Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan Reference USA),  pp. 435-443.

Wickson, F. (2015). “The ontological objection to life technosciences” in Science, Philosophy and Sustainability: The End of the Cartesian Dream. Eds. A. Guimaraes Pereira & S. Funtowicz (Routledge: Oxon): 61-77.

Wickson, F. (2014) “Deep Ecology” in Ethics, Science, Technology, and Engineering: A Global Resource. Ed. J. Britt Holbrook. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. (MI: Macmillan Reference: Farmington Hills) 536-538. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web access

Wickson, F. (2014) “Post-Normal Science” in Ethics, Science, Technology, and Engineering: A Global Resource. Ed. J. Britt Holbrook. 2nd ed. Vol. 3. (MI: Macmillan Reference: Farmington Hills) 438-440. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web access.

Wickson, F. (2013) “Environmental Ethics in an Ecotoxicology Laboratory” in S. Van Der Burg & T. Swierstra (eds) Ethics on the Laboratory Floor (Palgrave Macmillan: Hampshire)

Randles, S., Youtie, J., Guston, D., Harthorn, B., Newfield, C., Shapira, P., Wickson, F., Rip, A., von Schomberg, R., Pidgeon, N. (2012) “A Trans-Atlantic Conversation on Responsible Innovation and Responible Governance” in H. van Lente et al. (eds) Little by Little: Expansions of nanoscience and emerging technologies (Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft: Heidelberg) pp.169-180.

Wickson, F. (2012) “Nanotechnology and Risk” in Maclurcan, D. & Radywyl, N. (eds) Nanotechnology and Global Sustainability (CRC Press: Boca Raton) pp. 217-240.

Lie, S.A.N. & Wickson, F. (2011) “The Relational Ontology of Deep Ecology: A dispositional alternative to intrinsic value?“ in A. Aaro & J. Servan (eds) Environment, Embodiment & History (Hermes: Bergen).

Wickson, F., Gillund, F., & Myhr, A.I. (2010) “Treating Nanoparticles with Precaution: Recognising Qualitative Uncertainty in Scientific Risk Assessment” in Kjølberg, K. &

Wickson, F. (eds) Nano meets Macro: Social Perspectives on Nanoscale Sciences and Technologies (Pan Stanford Publishing: Singapore).

Wickson, F. & Kjølberg, K.L.  (2009) “NanoVisions: An Experiment with NanoScientists” in Gammel, S. & Ferrari, A. (eds) Visions of Nanotechnology (AKA Verlag: Berlin) pp. 165-183.

Popular Format

Wickson, F. (2016) “Cultivating the New Garden of Eden” Program of the Article Biennial for Electronic and Unstable Art: “New Eden” (i/o/lab – Senter for Framtidskunst: Gunnarshaug Trykkeri)

Miller, G. & Wickson, F. (2015) “Big questions about risk assessment of nanomaterials” The Conversation (published 24.08.15).

Wickson, F., Binimelis, R. and Herrero, A. (2015) “Why Europe will let member states opt out of GM crops” The Conversation http://theconversation.com/why-europe-will-let-member-states-opt-out-of-gm-crops-50873 (published 30.11.15)

Wickson, F. (2014) “Watching the regulatory tail wag the scientific dog” Research Europe 390, p. 7.

Wickson, F. (2013) “New Modes of Thought Required for the Age of EcologyScience and Public Policy (online first)

Forsberg, E.M., Throne-Holst, H., Wickson, F. (2013) “Verden’s minste problem” Klassekampen 16.03.13, pp.28-29

Wickson, F. (2012) “Researching Standards: No recipe, no risk” Science and Public Policy (online first)

Wickson, F. (2012) “Why we need to forget about the environment” The Conversation

Wickson, F. (2012) “The Scientific Revolution” IEEE Technology and Society Magazine 31(2): 17-18.

Heinemann, J. & Wickson, F. (2011) “Why would Australia want to grow genetically modified wheat?” The Conversation