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Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology32 Old Elvet: Room B1+44 (0) 191 33 41506
Associate Member in the Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society (CHESS)  


I am a sociologist specializing in the application of science studies to legal and regulatory issues, with specific research interests focusing on forensic science, criminal investigation and critical infrastructures.

I originally trained as an analytical biochemist, gaining a BSc in Biochemistry and Microbiology (Sheffield) and an MRes in Instrumentation Systems (University College London). Following a period working in research science I made the transition to the social sciences via an MA with Distinction in International Relations (Sheffield). I then completed a PhD at Durham University under the supervision of Professor Robin Williams, focusing on the sociology of forensic scientific reasoning.

Following the completion of my PhD, I undertook brief positions at Durham and Northumbria University. I returned to Durham in August 2012, after having previously held a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation (CARR), London School of Economics and Political Science, and a Teaching Fellowship in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

The external organisations I have worked with are: UK Home Office; US Department of Homeland Security; Scottish Ministers Fingerprint Inquiry.

Many of my research interests relate to the relationship between science and law. Together with Dr Alex Faulkner of Kings College London, I co-edited the 2012 special issue of Journal of Law and Society on this topic. I continue to conduct research on the social, economic, political and legal relevance of forensic science. 

I also pursue research in the field of risk regulation. I am currently researching critical infrastructures (CI), with the aim of developing a methodological framework to understand how resilience evolves in transnational CI systems.

I have advised and worked with a number of official bodies. In 2010 I participated in the US-UK Greenfield Aviation Security Programme, jointly organized by the US Department of Homeland Security and the UK Home Office. This series of workshops was convened to consider future developments in aviation security over the next 15-20 years. 

I have presented my work at a number of international events in locations including Washington D.C., Tokyo, Seoul, Paris and Gothenburg. I have acted as an external examiner on Continuing Professional Development programmes offered by Dundee University on Disaster Victim Identification. I have also acted as a reviewer for a number of leading international journals.

Twitter: @lawless_cj

Research interests

  • Forensic science
  • Relationship between law and science
  • Science and Technology Studies (STS)
  • Sociology of risk and resilience
  • Security and safety of critical infrastructures
  • Social Construction of Technology
  • Transnationality

Research groups

  • Criminal Justice, Social Harm and Inequalities
  • Health and Social Theory

Research Projects

  • CRITICAL - Combatting Criminals in the Cloud
  • ESRC Research ‘Seminar series on genetics, technology, security and justice. Crossing, contesting and comparing boundaries’

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Criminology: Forensic science
  • Criminology: Scientific evidence and law
  • Sociology: Technological risk regulation


Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

  • Lawless, C. & Faulkner, A. (2012). Material Worlds: Intersections of Law, Science, Technology and Society. Wiley-Blackwell.

Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Lawless, C. (2010). Risk, technology and disaster management. Risk and Regulation 19(Summer 2010): 16-17.


  • Lawless, C. (2012), Bio-legality and Low Template DNA Profiling, ESRC Genomics Networks Conference 2012: Genomics in Society: Facts, Fictions and Cultures. British Library, London, England, British Library, London.
  • Lawless, C. (2012), Exploring the Sociotechnical Co-production of Risk, Resilience and Transnationality, 3rd Flying University of the Transnational Humanities. Hanyang University, Seoul, Republic of Korea, Hanyang University, Seoul.
  • Lawless, C. (2011), The Fallout from the Fallout: Volcanic Ash, Risk and the Liminality of European Airspace, European Group of Organisation Studies (EGOS) 27th Annual Symposium. Gothenburg, Sweden, Gothenburg.
  • Lawless, C. (2011), Societal Barriers to Technological Knowledge Transfer, Lloyds Register Educational Trust (LRET) Global Technical Leadership Forum on Fire Safety Engineering. Gullane, Scotland, Gullane.
  • Lawless, C. (2011), Aviation Security: Interdisciplinary Challenges, Interdisciplinary Futures, Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Summit. Washington D.C., USA, Washington DC.
  • Lawless, C. (2010), Risk, Hazard and Organizational Learning, 1st HEC Workshop on Regulation, Ecoles de Haute Etudes Commerciales Paris. Paris, France, Paris.
  • Lawless, C. (2010), The Disputed Territory of Forensics: Competing Claims to the Epistemic Identity of the Law-Science Interface, Annual Meeting, Society for Social Studies of Science (4S). Tokyo, Japan, Tokyo.
  • Lawless, C. (2009), Risk, Regulation and Forensic Science: Challenges and Opportunities, Forensic Science Society 50th Anniversary Conference. Harrogate, England, Harrogate.


  • Lawless, C., Shaw, I. & Mennell, J. (2009). The Current Position of Fingerprint Evidence – A Literature Review. The Fingerprint Inquiry Scotland.