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Pru Hobson-West

Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences

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Biography

Dr Pru Hobson-West is Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer) in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Nottingham. She is also an Honorary Associate Professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, and previously held an Honorary Appointment in the School of Biosciences. Pru's research work is based in Centre for Applied Bioethics (CAB) and the Institute for Science and Society (ISS). From January 2019, Pru will also work as a Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick.

Pru holds an MA Hons (Politics, First Class) from the University of Edinburgh, and a PhD and PGCHE from the University of Nottingham. In 2006 she was a Visiting Fellow at the JFK School of Government, Harvard.

Expertise Summary

Dr Pru Hobson-West is a social scientist with expertise in the fields of science and technology studies, medical sociology, and animals and society.

She has published on fields including vaccination (of humans and animals), the use of animals as laboratory models, and questions of consent in veterinary practice. Her vision is to encourage social scientists to engage with animal medicine, and to encourage practitioners including natural scientists and clinicians to engage with social scientific methods and theories.

Teaching Summary

Pru has experience of teaching qualitative methods, science and technology studies, social theory, research ethics and veterinary ethics. In January 2015 Pru was awarded Fellow Status of the Higher… read more

Research Summary

Pru currently focuses on two interrelated areas of research: Animals as consumers, and producers of, contemporary biomedical science. She investigates these empirical areas using concepts and methods… read more

Recent Publications

Pru has experience of teaching qualitative methods, science and technology studies, social theory, research ethics and veterinary ethics. In January 2015 Pru was awarded Fellow Status of the Higher Education Academy after successfully completing her PGCHE qualification. Pru now acts as peer assessor for other PGCHE candidates at Nottingham.

From 2010 until 2018, Pru taught veterinary ethics within the Animal Health and Welfare (AHW) and Personal and Professional Skills (PPS) modules at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science. She also acted as embedded module convenor for ethics and professionalism, and was previously co-convenor for PPS1 and PPS2 and convenor for PPS Year 3. Pru also established year 5 rotation teaching in ethics.

Through her Honorary posts, Pru continues to contribute to teaching in the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science and the School of Biosciences. She is currently working to develop new teaching in animals and society.

Pru has significant experience of postgraduate research supervision (of social scientists, scientists and clinicians) and would welcome approaches from interested students.

Current Research

Pru currently focuses on two interrelated areas of research: Animals as consumers, and producers of, contemporary biomedical science. She investigates these empirical areas using concepts and methods from science and technology studies, medical sociology and animals and society.

ANIMALS AS CONSUMERS OF MEDICINE

The first research area studies the veterinary clinic as a key site of animal and veterinary ethics, and, in particular, seeks to understand the role of the veterinary professional in mediating questions of animals and medicine. She was lead supervisor for Vanessa Ashall (Wellcome funded) who was awarded a clinical fellowship to explore the social and ethical issues raised by companion animal blood donation. For an example of an output, please see the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iw9xqaw7rdU She also currently co-supervises three further projects under this theme: The role of the vet in Antimicrobial Resistance (Leverhulme funded PhD); the question of informed consent in veterinary medicine (ESRC funded PhD); and the bond between homeless people and their dogs (Dogs Trust funded MRes).

ANIMALS AS PRODUCERS OF MEDICINE

The second stream of work seeks to understand debates around animal experimentation.This began through a personal fellowship (Wellcome Trust funded) to explore how stakeholders, including laboratory animal scientists, draw boundaries between ethics and science. The work then expanded through supervision of projects on the use of primates in laboratory research (FRAME funded PhD); and the role of lay members of animal ethics committees (Wellcome Trust funded PhD). From 2012 until 2017 Pru worked on the relationship between animal research governance and public participation as part of the Leverhulme Trust funded programme entitled 'Making Science Public' -http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/sociology/research/projects/making-science-public/index.aspx.

In 2017 Dr Hobson-West was awarded a Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award. This is a 5 year programme of work on 'The Animal Research Nexus: Changing Constitutions of Science, Health and Welfare'. This major grant is led by Professor Gail Davies (University of Exeter), with Dr Pru Hobson-West (Nottingham), Dr Beth Greenhough (Oxford University), Dr Rob Kirk (University of Manchester) and Dr Emma Roe (University of Southampton). Work at Nottingham is led by Dr Hobson-West and focuses on questions of professionals in the lab, and the role of publics. Please see the following website for more details, including examples of outputs, and stakeholder and public engagement https://www.animalresearchnexus.org/

In January 2019 Pru was awarded an ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership Collaborative Studentship. This will fund a PhD student to work on the topic of animal research, in association with the RSPCA. The studentship is now advertised here: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/mgsdtp/collaborativeandjoint/hobson-west_nottingham_-_collab_advert_2019.pdf The deadline is 4 MARCH 2019. Pru is also involved in supervising a PhD based at the University of British Columbia, Canada, on the topic of transparency and animal research.

METHODS AND CONTACT

In terms of methods, Pru has a reputation for the use of in-depth interviews on sensitive topics. Overall she has has experience in the use of qualitative methods to analyse documents, websites, focus group and interview data. She also have experience in the use of the Ethical Matrix, a novel tool developed for ethical engagement. http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/bioethics/ethical-matrix.html

Please email Pru for more information about any of these streams of work. She is particularly keen in contributing to projects/ publications at the interface of science and technology studies, medical sociology and ethics. Pru has significant experience of supporting staff and students working on highly interdisciplinary projects.

Future Research

She is currently involved with several grant applications on animal ethics/ animals and society/vaccination and would welcome approaches from prospective PhD students or researchers on potential research topics under these headings.

School of Veterinary Medicine and Science

University of Nottingham
Sutton Bonington Campus
Leicestershire, LE12 5RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 951 6116
fax: +44 (0)115 951 6415
email: veterinary-enquiries@nottingham.ac.uk