Dr Rebecca Ellis

Lecturer

Research Interests

My research draws upon the disciplines of Social Anthropology, Science and Technology Studies and Cultural Geography to explore how we, as humans, come to know, relate to and respond to non-human entities such as the multitude of organisms making up the planet’s biodiversity. This has involved working with Amazonian indigenous communities, UK amateur naturalists and laboratory and field scientists in the fields of taxonomy, biodiversity and bioinformatics. This mix of contexts has allowed me to observe and sometimes understand very different ways of knowing and engaging with the world and the intersections which lie between these differences continue to excite me. Currently, I am particularly interested in probing further into what it might mean to engage with entities - organic and inorganic - which lie beyond the realm of human experience either because they are difficult to sense or because they exist before or after our presence on the planet. This kind of research is sometimes quite abstract and also raises key questions for academia and a wider public with an urgent and practical interest in the environment. Working in an interdisciplinary research centre like Lancaster Environment Centre and collaborating across the University with colleagues in computing, sociology, medicine and art has also opened my research out into different directions which are reflected in the research projects below.

Selected Publications

Ellis, R. (forthcoming) "Dark Taxa: Blank Spaces for Biosemiosis"

Ellis, R. (forthcoming) “Quiet Matter: labour, loss and a message from cryptic diversity”

Mackenzie, A., Waterton, C., Ellis, R., Frow, E., McNally, R., Busch, L. & Wynne, B. (2013) “Classifyng, Constructing and Identifying Life: Standards as Transformations of the Biological” Science, Technology & Human Values

Waterton, C., Ellis, R. and Wynne, B. (2013) “Barcoding Nature: Shifting Taxonomic Practices in an Age of Biodiversity Loss”, CESAGen Genetics and Society Book Series, Routledge

Ellis, R. (2011) “Jizz and the Joy of Pattern Recognition: virtuosity, discipline and the agency of insight in UK naturalist arts of seeing” Social Studies of Science Vol 41 (6) pp. 769-790

Ellis, R., Waterton, C., and Wynne, B. (2009) “Taxonomy, Biodiversity and their Publics in 21st Century DNA Barcoding”. Public Understanding of Science Vol. 19 (4): 497-512

Ellis, R. and Waterton, C. 2005, “Caught between the cartographic and the ethnographic imagination: the whereabouts of amateurs, professionals and nature in knowing biodiversity”, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Vol. 23/5, pp. 673-693

Ellis, R. and Waterton, C. 2004, “Environmental citizenship in the making: the participation of volunteer naturalists in UK biological recording and biodiversity policy”, Science and Public Policy, April 2004, Vol. 31/2, pp. 95-101

Current Projects

  • Citizens Transforming Society: Tools for Change(CaTalyST):a ‘Petri dish’ for thepromotion of interdisciplinary research in citizen-led social innovation

http://www.catalystproject.org.uk/

  • Understanding and Managing Energy Usage in Future Networks EPSRC funded

http://current.lancs.ac.uk/

Past Projects

‘Taxonomy at a Crossroads: Science, Policy and Publics in Biodiversity’:http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/projects/taxonomy/

‘Amateurs as Experts: Harnessing New Knowledge Networks for Biodiversity’Biodiversity’:http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fss/projects/ieppp/amateurs/

‘Databases, Naturalists and the Convention on Biological Diversity’Biodiversity’:http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/projects/sis/

Research Groups

Current PhD Supervision

Emily Adams: Understanding and Managing Honey Bee Health in the UK: Beekeeping Knowledge and Engagement with Science and Policy (ESRC-NERC funding)

Rachael Carrie: Towards Sustainable River Management: combining biological indicators and local environmental knowledge to monitor and manage river integrity in Belize (ESRC-NERC funding)

Niklas Hartmann: Ecosystem Services - studying how a concept transforms ecological theory, research practice and human-environment relations

Jonnet Middleton: The Age of Mending: The art of disruptive innovation for new economies of mending

Anne Toomey: Community science as a tool for engagement in conservation practice: Understanding how different ways of knowing can translate into better ways of doing in Madidi National Park, Bolivia

Previous PhD Students

Jodie Chapel: Biopiracy in Peru: Tracing Biopiracies, Theft, Loss and Traditional Knowledge(ESRC funding)

Amy Fowler: Citizen Science and local climate change: an interdisciplinary approach to public participation and the formulation of data sets to model Urban Heat Island effects (ESRC-NERC funding)

Imaginative labour and relationships of care: co-designing prototypes with vulnerable communities
Southern, J., Ellis, R., Ferrario, M.A., McNally, R., Dillon, R., Simm, W., Whittle, J. 05/2014 In: Technological Forecasting and Social Change. 84, p. 131-142. 12 p.
Journal article

Imaginative labour and relationships of care: co-designing prototypes with vulnerable communities
Southern, J., Ellis, R., Ferrario, M.A., McNally, R., Dillon, R., Simm, W., Whittle, J. 05/2014 In: Technological Forecasting and Social Change. 84, p. 131-142. 12 p.
Journal article

How reliable are citizen‐derived scientific data?: assessing the quality of contrail observations made by the general public
Fowler, A., Whyatt, D., Davies, G., Ellis, R. 08/2013 In: Transactions in GIS. 17, 4, p. 488-506. 19 p.
Journal article

Barcoding nature: shifting cultures of taxonomy in an age of biodiversity loss
Waterton, C., Ellis, R., Wynne, B. 2013 London : Routledge. 248 p. ISBN: 9780415554794 .
Book

Patchworks: citizen-led innovation for chaotic lives
Southern, J., Dillon, R., Potts, R., Morrell, D., Ferrario, M.A., Simm, W., Ellis, R., Whittle, J. 2013 In: CHI EA '13 CHI '13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. New York : ACM p. 2871-2872. 2 p.
Paper

How Reliable is Citizen-Derived Scientific Data? An Evaluatoin of Contrail Observations using Multiple Datasets and GIS Techniques
Fowler, A., Whyatt, D., Ellis, R., Davies, G. 04/2012 In: Proceedings of the GIS Research UK 20th Annual Conference. Lancaster : Lancaster University p. 145-152. 8 p. ISBN: 978-1-86220-294-8.
Conference contribution

Jizz and the joy of pattern recognition: virtuosity, discipline and the agency of insight in UK naturalists’ arts of seeing
Ellis, R. 12/2011 In: Social Studies of Science. 41, 6, p. 769-790. 22 p.
Journal article

Biotagging Manchester: interdisciplinary exploration of biodiversity
Nold, C., Tweddle, J., Ellis, R., Hemment, D., Wynne, B. 01/2011 In: Leonardo. 44, 1
Journal article

Participatory mass observation and citizen science.
Hemment, D., Ellis, R., Wynne, B. 01/2011 In: Leonardo. 44, 1, p. 62-63. 2 p.
Journal article

Taxonomy, biodiversity and their publics in twenty-first-century DNA barcoding
Ellis, R., Waterton, C., Wynne, B. 2010 In: Public Understanding of Science. 19, 4, p. 497-512. 16 p.
Journal article

Rethinking the value of biological specimens: laboratories, museums and the Barcoding of Life Initiative.
Ellis, R. 2008 In: Museum & Society. 6, 2, p. 172-191. 20 p.
Journal article

Assembling Nature: The Social and Political Lives of Biodiversity Software.
Ellis, R., Waterton, C., Pacha, M. 2007 Lancaster
Other

Caught between the cartographic and the ethnographic imagination: the whereabouts of amateurs, professionals and nature in knowing biodiversity.
Ellis, R., Waterton, C. 2005 In: Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 23, 5, p. 673-693. 21 p.
Journal article

Nature: Who Knows?
Ellis, R., Grove-White, R., Vogel, J., Waterton, C. 2005 Peterboroug, UK
Other

Environmental Citizenship in the Making: the participation of volunteer naturalists in UK biological recording and biodiversity policy.
Ellis, R., Waterton, C. 04/2004 In: Science and Public Policy. 31, 2, p. 95-101. 7 p.
Journal article

Un Dialogo entre Saberes: lecciones aprendidas de investigación participativa con pueblos indígenas(Translated Title: A dialogue between indigenous and academic knowledge: Lesson learning from participatory research with indigenous peoples)
Ellis, R. 06/2002 La Paz, Bolivia : Department for international development (DFID)
Other

Enseñemos a los Tsimane’ a Sumar Monos!: La inclusión de los Indígenas (y exclusión de sus cosmologias) en el Manejo de Fauna
Ellis, R. 1999 In: Anales de la Reunión Anual de Etnología.
Journal article

Una Etnografía del Pueblo Tsimane.
Ellis, R., Araoz, G. 1998 La Paz, Bolivia
Other

Brujería y enojo entre tsimanes y carayanas: una aproximación al estudio antropológico de las emociones
Ellis, R. 1997 In: Anales de la Reunión Anual de Etnología. p. 87-93. 7 p.
Journal article