Ethnographer to research robotics in nuclear
News 30th July 2019
The Beam is pleased to introduce its new Research Fellow, Başak Sarac̣-Lesavre, who will be applying ethnographic research to robotics and artificial intelligence in the nuclear industry.
The appointment is the result of a collaboration with the Robotics and AI for Nuclear (RAIN) Hub, led by The University of Manchester, seeking to gain insight into the possibilities and limitations of robotics deployment in the nuclear sector.
Working with The Beam, Başak will seek to understand the socio-technical aspects of using advanced robotics and AI in the nuclear industry. For her Ph.D. thesis, Başak followed the career of the U.S. nuclear waste programme from its conception to its abandonment. She has since completed research on post-Fukushima nuclear stress-tests and emergency response initiatives. During her new appointment she will conduct ethnographic fieldwork on the development of robotics in the nuclear industry for decommissioning and clean-up.
Richard Taylor, The Beam co-founder and BNFL chair in Nuclear Energy Systems at The University of Manchester, said:
“We are delighted to welcome Başak to The Beam’s academic team. The controversies around the adoption of robotic technologies are fundamental to the future of nuclear and we are excited to see the insights that Başak’s work is sure to reveal.
“We are grateful to Prof. Barry Lennox and the RAIN partners for the unprecedented access they have provided to the industry and research initiatives in nuclear robotics.”
“I’m delighted to work with The Beam, I am sure it will be a very fruitful scientific collaboration”.
Başak is based in the Department of Social Anthropology at The University of Manchester. In 2016, she held an assistant professorship position on a post-doctoral appointment within the Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation of the Ecole des Mines de Paris, where she analysed European post-Fukushima nuclear stress-tests.
In 2017, she joined Virginia Tech’s Department of Science, Technology, and Society, where she worked on post-Fukushima nuclear emergency response initiatives on a NSF-funded research project.
She is currently working on a book project based on her doctoral thesis. At the heart of advanced industrialised societies’ direct intervention into geological time, the book traces how a series of exceptional measures, temporal bridges, have been designed to make the exceptional temporality of nuclear waste discernible for contemporary political, budgetary, economic institutions in the United States.
Başak is currently writing her debut blog post for The Beam. You can subscribe to The Beam to stay up-to-date with new posts.