Duncan Thomas new postdoc at CFA

Duncan Thomas has recently started in a new position as postdoc at the Danish Center for studies in Research and Research Policy

2019.08.06 | Christine Friis Baker

Photo: Private

Hi, I’m Duncan Thomas and I recently started at the Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy, CFA.

I moved to CFA from the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research (MIoIR) at the Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS). I remain an Honorary Research Fellow there for ongoing collaborations. At CFA I’m primarily involved with the PROSECON project. This addresses the roles of funding and funders in societal effects from public science. PROSECON case studies will explore energy and food science in Denmark, Netherlands and Norway. I am very much looking forward to this research, to working with new colleagues, and exploring Aarhus, Denmark and beyond.

Before Manchester I was a physicist then an engineer in a corporate R&D lab. I built prototype lighting systems in novel geometries using plasmas and radio frequency electronics. This Nobel Prize-winning facility faced challenges – de-merger, management buyout, and market flotation. These sparked my interest in technical change and industrial strategy. I left to read two Masters degrees and a PhD at Manchester and Salford.  

My subsequent research explored conditions for ‘breakthrough’ innovations in regulated water utilities. This generated a UK REF ‘impact case’, service positions around the world, and teaching global water and sanitation planning and policy. With a colleague I pioneered AMBS’ first ‘massive open online courses’ (MOOCs). This led to an awkward photo of me being on the ‘instructor wall’ at Coursera HQ, Silicon Valley (visible in the picture). I later developed methods to study European Research Council (ERC) ‘frontier’ research funding, and explored joint and open research programming, prioritization and harmonization across European and national funders, as well as conditions for commercialising university research. I now consider myself broadly interested in: science dynamics; research/epistemic governance and policy; and the changing missions of universities. 

In addition to PROSECON I’m part of an international centre studying notions of research quality (R-QUEST, hosted by Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education, NIFU) and KNOWSCIENCE, addressing policy and higher education and research governance. This includes developing a typology of research evaluation, and comparative fieldwork on funding schemes that immerse researchers in non-academic settings.

I look forward to meeting my new CFA colleagues and finding out more about your research and interests!