Sabina Leonelli

Research & Institution

Institutional Contact

University of Exeter


I am a Professor in Philosophy and History of Science at the University of Exeter, UK, where I am also Co-Director of the Exeter Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences and theme lead for the "Data Governance, Algorithms and Values" strand of the Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence. I pursue an approach to philosophy of science that is grounded on the empirical study of scientific practices, as informed by historical and ethnographic methods used in the social and anthropological studies of science and technology; and interested in translating academic research into policy-relevant information. My research focus is the ways in which ‘big data’ science, particularly in biological and biomedical research, affects processes of knowledge production, collaboration and funding. This research is relevant to understanding how technologies such as internet databases and forms of collaborations such as global networks may affect scientific knowledge production and governance in the long term. I am also very interested in the political context and implications of Open Science and Open Data. From 2015 to 2017 I have led the Open Science working group of the Global Young Academy, and represent the GYA on the Open Science Policy Platform of the European Commission (2016-2019). In 2012 and 2013, I coordinated the GYA position statements on open science and globalisation of research; in 2016, I co-chaired the production of the Open Data Position Statement by the GYA and European Young Academies; and in 2018, I co-authored the GYA Statement on Plan S, and continue to engage with implementation issues confronted by Coalition S. I regularly advise  plant and biomedical scientists about their policies and practices concerning data infrastructures and re-use. From 2014 to 2019, I led an ERC Starting Grant on The Epistemology of Data-Intensive Science (DATA_SCIENCE).

Awards & Affiliations


Lakatos Award 2018 for outstanding contribution to the philosophy of science