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Dr Hugh Williamson

Research Fellow

Byrne House SF6

Social Anthropologist and Research Fellow on the Alan Turing Institute-funded project "From Field Data to Global Indicators: Towards a Framework for Intelligent Plant Data Linkage". The project is a historical, sociological and philosophical investigation of contemporary data linkage efforts in plant science, with particular focus on crop and agricultural research.

Based within the Data Studies group at Egenis, the Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences, and affiliate of the Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence.

Research interests:

  • Plant, agricultural and ecological sciences
  • Plant breeding and biotechnology
  • Quantitative genetics and selection theory
  • Conservation and rural development
  • Romania and Anglo-Romanian relations

Research group links

Research interests

My research interests have been shaped by themes from the anthropology of science, science and technology studies (STS), and the history and philosophy of science, with a focus on ecology and, latterly, plant science and crop breeding. For my doctoral research at Cambridge, I conducted ethnographic fieldwork in an agroecological conservation zone in Transylvania, Romania, with a focus on rural development dynamics and cultural politics. Currently, I am investigating data management in plant science for food and agricultural applications. I am particularly interested in new applications of quantitative genetics and selection theory in plant breeding that have been made possible by genomic technologies, and the implications of these for international agricultural research and agricultural development.


I hold a BA in Anthropology from Durham University (2013), an interdisciplinary course which encompassed anthropology's social, medical and biological subfields. I subsequently studied at the University of Cambridge, where I received an MRes (2014) and PhD (2019) in Social Anthropology. At Exeter, I am Research Fellow on the Alan Turing Institute-funded project ‘From Field Data to Global Indicators: Towards a Framework for Intelligent Plant Data Linkage’ (2019-2021). I am based at Egenis, the Exeter Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences.

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