Meritxell Ramirez-i-Olle

Meritxell Ramirez-i-Olle
Meritxell Ramirez-i-Olle
Science StudiesSchool of Social and Political Science
University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh UK EH1 1LZ
Research Interests
Sociology of Knowledge, sociology of scientific knowledge, Paleoclimatology, trust, scepticism, epistemology, Research methodology, Politics of climate change science

PhD Title

Reconstructing past climates from trees: a sociological study of dendroclimatology in Scotland

Research interests

In my doctoral thesis I describe and explain how a group of scientists working in Scotland make knowledge of climate change from trees. Dendroclimatology is the science of acquiring information about past climates from the analysis of annual tree rings of growth.  

Tree rings











My empirical research has involved an ethnographic study of the work conducted by the members of the Scottish Pine Project who aim to reconstruct the environmental history of Scotland for the last 2000 years and possibly back into the early Holocene.

The successive chapters of the thesis outline the growth of dendroclimatological knowledge starting with the work of sampling living and preserved trees in the Scottish Highlands and ending with the production of a long-term historical temperature reconstruction for Scotland. The theoretical focus of my thesis is on the sociology of trust and scepticism. I am interested in outlining the trust relations that constitute, and are constituted in the process of knowledge-making; including those that faciliate and are reinforced by exercises of collective scepticism. 

I became initially interested in dendroclimatology because this discipline has gained scientific and political relevance over the last decades. Tree-ring based climate reconstructions are now commonly used in climate change assessments like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's reports. More recently, dendroclimatological work has been the focus of public scrutiny and criticism during the so-called 'hockey stick graph' (image below) and 'Climategate' controversies.










My research topic is part of the subfield of study of the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge (SSK) and an interdisciplinary research area called Science and Technology Studies (STS). As such, I study science as a social activity and I explore the social factors and human interactions that make scientific knowledge possible. This tradition of research was pioneered, among others, by members of the University of Edinburgh back in the 1960s. If you want to know more about STS, watch the video that my colleagues in Edinburgh have done. 

If you want to know more about other aspects of my professional life visit my personal website 

 PhD supervisors 

Awards and Funding 

  • Award to the best student presentation at the 9th International Conference on Dendrochronology in Melbourne, January 2014. 
  • Sue Grant Service Award 2013 for my voluntary work with communities in the School of Social and Political Sciences, Scotland and in Catalonia. 
  • Award for the best PhD presentation in the PhD conference 2013; Science, Technology and Innovation Studies. 
  • Student-Led Project Grant 2013 to organise a mediation and conflict resolution workshop for social researchers; School of Social and Political Sciences
  • ESRC Quota Nomination Award (‘Tuition fees’ only), studentship number: ES/I017917/1, September 2010- September 2014.
  • ‘Sa Nostra’ Foundation Scholar for Postgraduate Studies, September 2009-September 2010.
  • Scholarship for last year undergraduate students [‘Beca collaboració per a estudiants d’últim curs’], Spanish Ministry of Education and Sports, December 2008- March 2009.
  • ERASMUS studentship, Univerzita Karlove v Praze (University of Charles), Prague, Czech Republic, September 2007- February 2008.

Peer-reviewed publications 

Ramírez-i-Ollé, Meritxell (2015). "Rhetorical strategies for scientific authority: a boundary-work analysis of ‘climategate’", Science as Culture, (forthcoming). 


  • 2011. MSc by Research with distinction in Science and Technology Studies, University of Edinburgh, Scotland. 
  • 2010. MSc in Science and Technology Policy and Management, University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • 2004-2009. B.Sc. in Political Science and Administration, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Catalonia.
  • 2009. Teaching Certificate, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Catalonia.

Teaching experience

  • Social and Political Enquiry [2010, 2011: Tutor]
  • Introduction to Sustainable Development  [2011, 2012: Senior Tutor]
  • Science and the Environment [2011, 2012, 2013: Senior Tutor]
  • Sociology 1A: The sociological Imagination: Individuals and Society [2012: Tutor]
  • Doing and Designing Social Research [2012: Tutor]
  • Data Collection [2013, Tutor]

University involvement  

  • 2013-2014: Co-organiser of the PhD ISSTI seminar:
  • 2011. Elaboration of the market research report for MSc Programme in Science, Technology and Innovation. 
  • 2010- 2012. Research co-representative for Science, Technology and Innovation Studies.