School of Sociology and Social Policy

Image of Brigitte Nerlich

Brigitte Nerlich

Professor of Science, Language and Society, Faculty of Social Sciences



I am Professor of Science, Language, and Society at the Institute for Science and Society (School of Sociology and Social Policy). I studied French and philosophy in Germany and gained a DrPhil in French linguistics. After a postdoc in general linguistic at Oxford I moved to Nottingham. My current research focuses on the cultural and political contexts in which metaphors and other framing devices are used in the public, policy and scientific debates about synthetic biology and climate change. I have written books and articles on the history of linguistics, semantic change, metaphor, metonymy, polysemy and, more recently, the sociology of health and illness and the social study of science and technology. In 2011 the University of Nottingham awarded me a DLitt for my research and publications relating to the social study of metaphor. I am a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.


Blog: webpage:

Google scholar profile:

Twitter: @BNerlich

Current research projects:

Making Science Public, funded by a Leverhulme Trust programme grant, 2012-2017 (Director)

Synthetic Biology Research Centre funded by the BBSRC and the EPSRC, 2014-2018 (Social Science lead, Responsible Research and Innovation

Expertise Summary

I have expertise in the social study of science, the philosophy and history of science, general linguistics, cognitive linguistics, historical linguistics, history of linguistics, media and cultural studies, metaphor analysis.

Teaching Summary

I convene L34113/L34117: Innovation and Society

I contribute to: L33758 Science, Technology and Society (UG/PG), L34104 Advanced Topics in STS, L34097 Researching Media, Culture and Society, L31626 Society, Health and Environment

I currently supervise the following PhD students: Carlos Cuevas Gardia, Aleksandra Stelmach, Eleanor Hadley Kershaw, Ruijing Li, Andrey Barsky; Dissertation students: Sophie Richardson, Angela Kubik

Research Summary

Director: Leverhulme programme, Making Science public (2012-2017)

PI: ESRC grant on climate change as a complex social issue (2011-2014)

Selected Publications

Past Research

The linguistic and cultural background of public fears concerning scientific controversies (from biotechnology to nanotechnology, from genomics to epigenetics), as well as epidemics, pandemics and climate change.

See CV

School of Sociology and Social Policy

Law and Social Sciences Building
The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 951 5234