Meritxell Ramírez-Ollé

PhD Title

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


Research interests

My research is a case study of a community of dendroclimatologists in Scotland. In particular, I study the work conducted by the members of the Tree-ring Laboratory in St. Andrews University who aim to reconstruct from trees the climatic and environmental history of the Scottish highlands over the last millenium. 

Dendroclimatology (the study of past climates from tree-ring growth) is a scientific discipline that has gained scientific and political relevance because it might help to contextualise current climate change and delimitate future climate models scenarios. More recently, dendroclimatological practices have been the focus of public debate and criticism as a result of the Climategate email hacking, and other controversies surrounding Michael Mann's "hockey stick". 

In my thesis, I am interested to understand how scientists' trust on the validity of certain results, practices and people is generated, and at the same time, how this trustful attitude enables the development of dendroclimatological practices and knowledge. This research interest is linked to a sub-field of research within sociology -the sociology of scientific knowledge- pioneered by members of the University of Edinburgh back in the 1960s.

As a sociologist of science, I study scientists as a social group, and I explore the social mechanisms, attitudes and interpersonal interactions that make scientific knowledge possible. In my research, I use a range of research methods (participant observation, interviews, documentary analysis) to generate data. 

If you want to know more about the field of Science, Technology and Innovation Studies , watch the video that my colleagues of the Edinburgh STIS department have done. 

If you want to know more about other aspects of my professional and personal life just 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-Ollé, Meritxell (submitted). "Rethorical strategies for scientific authority: a boundary-work analysis of ‘climategate’".  




  • 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.