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Science, Technology and Innovation Studies:


Niki Vermeulen

Niki Vermeulen
Dr Niki Vermeulen
Lecturer in history/sociology of science; Wellcome Research Fellow
Attic - Room A1 Chisholm House High School Yards Edinburgh UK EH1 1LZ
+44(0)131 650 6396
Research Interests
Science & technology studies, History of science and medicine, Social Organisation of Knowledge, Science policy, Innovation, Life Sciences

Niki Vermeulen specialises in science and innovation policy and the organisation of research, with an emphasis on scientific collaboration in the life sciences. She holds a PhD in Science and Technology Studies from Maastricht University, The Netherlands, was a Marie Curie research fellow in the Science and Technology Studies Unit at the University of York, lecturer/researcher in the Department of the Social Studies of Science, University of Vienna, Austria, and research fellow in the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine of the University of Manchester. She co-founded a network of young researchers that has been granted the European COST action ‘Bio-objects and their Boundaries: Governing Matters at the Intersection of Society, Politics, and Science’ and is co-chairing one of the working groups. Niki has been a visiting scholar at the Centre for Society and Life Sciences of the Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, the University of Madison-Wisconsin, USA and the Institut für Kulturwissenschaft, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany. Next to her academic positions, she has been working for Technopolis Group, the Executive Board of Maastricht University, the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR), and the Scientific Council of the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Washington DC, USA.


Research interests

I study the ways in which science is practised and organised, specialising in scientific collaboration in biology with an emphasis on taxonomy/ecology and (post-)genomics research, especially systems biology. As a Wellcome research fellow I am investigating the emergence of systems biology as a new field, shedding light on the recent history of the biosciences, and the ways in which different disciplines become reconfigured. I investigate the entanglement of epistemic and social transformations in science, analysing new ways of doing research as well as the political and institutional structures in which the research is performed. Special attention is given to different local and national patterns of emergence and the shaping of international collaboration, as well as applications of research. My research into scientific collaboration is embedded in broader knowledge of developments in science and innovation policy. Research subjects in this area include the knowledge society; changing roles of universities; innovative clusters; the integration of ICT in research; projectification of science; evaluation of research; and careers of (young) researchers. Next to my academic work I have experience as a policy advisor and consultant in the field of research and innovation policy, trying to bridge the gap between research and policymaking and improving conditions for research.



Vermeulen, N & M. Bain (2014). ‘Little Cell, Big Science’. Issues in Science and Technology, Summer: 38-46. (See for an illustrated version the Think Write Publish project website).

Bain, M. & N. Vermeulen, (2014). ‘Little Cell, Big Science’ Creative Nonfiction, 52: 59-68.

Vermeulen, N., Parker, J.N. & B. Penders (2013). ‘Understanding life together: A brief history of collaboration in biology’. Endeavour, 37 (3), 162-171.

Vermeulen, N. (2013). ‘The Census of Marine Life; marine biology as big science’. PLOS 1, 8(1): e54284.

Swierstra, T, Vermeulen, N., Braeckman, J. & R. van Driel (2013). ‘Re-thinking the life sciences’. EMBO reports, 14, 310 - 314.

Vermeulen, N. (2013). 'Reflections on scientific collaboration'. In Popovic, L., Vidakovic‡, M.,& D. Kostic (Eds.). Resources of Danubian Region: The possibility of cooperation  and utilization. Belgrade: Humboldt-Club Serbien.

Tamminen, S. & N. Vermeulen (2012). ‘Bio-objects and generative relations’. Croatian Medical Journal, 53(2), 198-200.

Vermeulen, N., Tamminen, S. & A. Webster (Eds). (2012). Bio-objects: Life in the 21st Century. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Vermeulen, N. (2012). ‘Growing a cell in silico; On how the creation of a bio-object transforms the organisation of science’. In Vermeulen, N., S. Tamminen & A. Webster (Eds.). Bio-objects: Life in the 21st Century. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Wheeler, et al. (2012). ‘Mapping the biosphere: exploring species to understand the origin, organization and sustainability of biodiversity’. Systematics and Biodiversity, 10(1), 1-20.

Ohler, F., Radauer, A., Vermeulen, N., Ionita, M., Rotaru, F., Toncu, A. C., Pislaru, D. & M. Horvat (2012). Mid-Term Evaluation of the National Strategy and the National RD&I Plan in Romania 2007-2013. Vienna: Technopolis/Bucharest: FM Management Consultancy/GEA Strategy & Consultancy.

Arnold, E., Good, B., Ohler, F., Tiefenthaler, B. & N. Vermeulen (2011). Institutional Funding and Research Evaluation in the Czech Republic and abroad. Brighton/Vienna: Technopolis.

Parker, J. N., Vermeulen, N. & B. Penders. (2011). ‘Admin Burden is Part of the Job’. Nature, 476 (7358).

Felt, U., Vermeulen, N, Tempelmaier, B & K. Perkovits (2011). Ökologie im Wandel. Epistemische und institutionelle Transformation der  Ökologie in Österreich. Wien: Institut für Wissenschaftsforschung.

Moodie, L.H., Reeve, J.C., Vermeulen, N. & M. R. Elkins. (2011). ‘Inspiratory muscle training to facilitate weaning from mechanical ventilation: protocol for a systematic review’, BMC Research Notes, 11(4), 283.

Vermeulen, N., Parker, J.N., & B. Penders (2010). ‘Big, Small or Mezzo?: Lessons from Science Studies for the ongoing debate about ‘Big’ versus ‘Little’ Science’. EMBO reports, 11, 420-423.

Parker, J. N., Vermeulen, N. & B. Penders (Eds). (2010). Collaboration in the New Life Sciences. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Vermeulen, N & B. Penders (2010). ‘Collecting collaboration. Understanding life together’. In Parker, J., N. Vermeulen & B. Penders (Eds.). Collaboration in the New Life Sciences. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Zuijdam, F., Boekholt, P., Deuten, J., Meijer, I., & N. Vermeulen (2010). The role and added value of large-scale research facilities. Amsterdam: Technopolis.

Arnold, E., Boekholt, P., Good, B., Radauer, A., Stroyan, J., Tiefenthaler, B. & N. Vermeulen (2010). Evaluation of Austrian support structures for FP 7 & Eureka and impact analyses of EU research initiatives on the Austrian research and innovation system. Vienna: Technopolis.

Penders, B., N. Vermeulen & J. N. Parker (2010). To make progress we must remember and learn from the past. Nature, 463 (7278), 157.

Vermeulen, N. (2009). Supersizing science; On building large-scale research projects in biology. Maastricht: Maastricht University Press.

Vermeulen, N. (2008). ‘Supersizing science: building large-scale research projects in biology’. In Global research seminar: Sharing Research Agendas on Knowledge Systems, Final Proceedings. Paris: UNESCO, pp. 76-77.

Vermeulen, N. & B. Penders (2007). ‘Big Science.’ In: Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. Cutler J. Cleveland. Washington, D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment.

Vermeulen, N. & R. Kleinenberg (2004). ‘Life Sciences in de VS: stimuleren, reguleren, discussiëren’. Published online on 28-5-2004 at the TWA website of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Vermeulen, N. (2003). ‘Biotechnologie clusters in de Verenigde Staten’. TWAnieuws, Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, 41 (6), 5-7.

Vermeulen, N. & R. Kleinenberg (2003). ‘Life Sciences in de Verenigde Staten’. TWAnieuws, Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, 41 (4), 8.

Wilde, R. de, Vermeulen, N. & M. Reithler (2003). Bezeten van Genen; Een essay over de innovatieoorlog rondom genetisch gemodificeerd voesel. [Possesed by Genes. An essay on the innovation war around genetically modified food]. Background study Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy, vol. 117. The Hague: Sdu Publishers.


Media coverage

Armas Foster, I. (2013). Collecting Big Data in Big Oceans. Datanami.

Pain, E. (2012). ‘Preliminary results of Euroscience survey’. Science Careers Blog.

Dirtel, T. (2011). ‘EU-Netzwerk COST: Neue Lebensformen im Fokus’. Uni:view.

Cressey, D. (2010). ‘Out of the blue’, Nature, 467, 514-515.

Pennisi, E. (2010). ‘Taxonomists propose counting all of Earth’s speciesScience Insider


Selected invited presentations

Supersizing and synthesizing science. Collaboration in the life sciences, LMU Exzellent Kooperation und Konkurrenz, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Münich, Germany, May 22, 2014.

From reductionism towards integration: systems biology as a scientific social movement. Department of History and Philosophy, University of Cambridge, UK, February 25, 2014.  

Scientific collaboration in the life sciences. Naturkunde Museum, Berlin, Germany, January 20, 2014.

Systems biology in the Netherlands: integration or fragmentation? Rathenau Institute, The Hague, The Netherlands, September 17, 2013.

Life Sciences: promising integration Center for Society and the Life Sciences symposium ‘Responsible Promise Management’ in Brussels, Belgium, September 11, 2013.

Reflections on scientific collaboration. Humboldt Serbia Kolleg ‘Resources of Danubian Region: the possibility of cooperation and utilisation’, University of Belgrade, Serbia, June 13, 2013.

Scientific collaboration as projectification. Manchester Projects, Programmes and Portfolios Network (MP3), Manchester Business School, UK, January 29, 2013.

Counting quality? The case of the Czech Evaluation Methodology. Center for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS), Leiden University, The Netherlands, June 29, 2012.

Collaboration in the life sciences. Center for Society and Genomics, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, March 29, 2011.

Supersizing science: making biology big. Making it BIG?’ Tracing collaboration, complexity and control in the biosciences, University of Exeter, UK, March 18, 2011.



I am convening an undergraduate course on the history of science, and have previously taught in the STS Master programme of the Department of Social Studies of Science (University of Vienna), the History of Science, Technology and Medicine programme (University of Manchester), and the Arts and Sciences programme, the European Studies programme and the European Society, Science and Technology (ESST) Master programme of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (Maastricht University).


Topics interested in supervising

I would be happy to supervise students with an interest in science policy; scientific collaboration; institutionalisation of research (e.g. Institute of Advanced Studies); transformations in the life sciences (e.g. taxonomy, ecology, systems biology, biomedicine).

If you are interested in being supervised by Niki Vermeulen, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Science and Technology Studies; MSc (R) Science and Technology Studies