Innogen · News · June 5, 2009

Joyce Tait awarded Honorary Degree from the Open University


was presented with an Honorory Doctorate from the Open University for "academic and scholarly distinction and for services to the University". Professor Andrew Lane introduced Joyce as 'a noted teacher and researcher who has successfully spanned the natural and social sciences and influenced public policy'.

Joyce began her career with a degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Glasgow. After a career break to raise a family, Joyce researched the attitudes and behaviour of farmers in relation to pests and pesticides for her DPhil at Cambridge University, mixing her scientific training in the natural sciences with an innate gift for research in the social sciences.  On the strength of this work she secured a Lectureship in the Systems Department at the Open University.

Joyce worked at the OU for 12 years, being promoted to Senior Lecturer. Most importantly she both continued with her research - expanding from farmer behaviour to covering technology development strategies in the chemical and life sciences industries, involving risk assessment and regulation, governance, policy analysis, stakeholder attitudes and influences and science and risk communication – and made major contributions to innovative teaching projects such as externally grant funded study packs in pest management and practical conservation, the very popular and long running Complexity, Management and Change course and the Masters programme in Technology Management.

'I would like to express my enormous gratitude to the Open University for the honour they have conferred on me today and also thank Andrew Lane for his kind introduction' said Professor Tait.

'This has to be added to the university’s already formative influence on my career. The twelve years that I worked for the OU were very empowering and gave me the experience and confidence to do all the other things I have done since.

The OU taught me that I could indeed rise to any of the challenges or opportunities they presented me with. And if opportunities didn’t exist within the system, one could create them by going outside the system and raising the necessary money.'

With a desire to return to her native Scotland, Joyce left the Open University to become a Professor at Strathclyde University, soon to be followed by a spell at Scottish Natural Heritage, giving her an opportunity to practice much of what she had been teaching and researching. She returned to academia with The University of Edinburgh and headed up a joint proposal with colleagues from both Edinburgh and the Open University for Innogen, a major Economic and Social Research Council funded Centre for research on innovation in genomics and its social and economic implications. She was the director of Innogen from 2002 - 2007 and successfully secured funding from the ESRC for a further 5 years before stepping down to be Scientific adviser.

A prolific writer of academic and policy articles and contributor to debates about new technologies, the impact of Joyce’s work is shown by her being made a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and also of the Society for Risk Analysis. She is a member of the Scottish Stem Cell Network board, the Governing Council of the Roslin Institute, the Scottish Science Advisory Council and the Scientific and Technical Council of the International Risk Governance Council in Geneva, Switzerland. She was awarded the CBE in 2005 for services to social science.