Professor Celia Roberts

PhD, Gender and Women's Studies, University of Sydney
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: +61 026125178

Areas of expertise

  • Sociology And Social Studies Of Science And Technology 160808
  • Sociological Methodology And Research Methods 160807
  • Other Studies In Human Society 1699

Research interests

I work in the area of Feminist Technoscience Studies, with particular focus on reproduction, sexuality, sex/ gender, embodiment and health.

I am the author or editor of five books: on sex hormones and embodiment, on genetic testing and reproductive technologies, on early onset puberty, health biosensing and Actor-Network Theory. These are listed below. I also have a long track-record in work on ageing and new technologies of care.

I am currently working on reproductive biosensing and self-tracking, and developing an international project on new formations of the menopause, working with sociologists, activists and artists in the UK.  I have a strong interest in feminist and queer theory and how they can help us understand how human and non-human bodies are changing in the current era of environmental disaster.

Another line of research concerns the rise of neuroscientifically-informed parenting practices and popular, therapeutic and biomedical accounts of the effects of early-life trauma throughout childhood and adult life. I have a long-standing interest in the intwinement of psychodynamic and other psychological accounts of subjectivity with neurological and other technoscientific accounts. 


My first academic work took place in the early 1990s at Macquarie University's National Centre for HIV Social Research. There I trained as a qualitative sex researcher and began my immersion in the sexual politics of health and illness.

I then undertook my PhD at the newly formed Department of Women's Studies at Sydney University, which became the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies during my candidature. This work was later revised and published as Messengers of Sex: Hormones, biomedicine and feminism (2007). After graduating, I worked at the National Breast Cancer Centre, undertaking qualitative work on specialist breast nursing and teaching women how to be technoscientifically-informed patient activists.

In 2000, I started to work with Raewyn Connell at the University of Sydney on a project on gender equity in the public sector, but then moved to Lancaster University in 2001 to work with Sarah Franklin on the then very contentious area of genetic testing of pre-implantation embryos (created throuhg IVF processes). We undertook an ethnographic study of this technique in two leading British hospitals, which has been published as Born and Made: An ethnography of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (2006).

In 2003, I was made a permanent member of the Sociology Department at Lancaster University, and I worked there until 2018.In 2016, I published a new monograph, entitled Puberty in Crisis: The sociology of early sexual development. As Lancaster, I was actively involved in the Centre for Science Studies, the Centre for Gender and Women's Studies, and the Centre for the Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics. With Debra Ferreday, Imogen Tyler anf Vicky Singleton, I was at various times Co-Director of the Centre for Gender and Women's Studies. During my time in the UK I worked on several large European-Commission funded projects, building a network of colleagues working in Science and Technology Studies in Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark, Ireland, Portugal and France. My forthcoming co-edited Companion to Actor Network Theory is one output of these collaborations.

In September 2018, I returned to Australia to take up a position in the School of Sociology. I am absolutely thrilled to be joining colleagues in the school and to be able to reconnect with scholars in Australia, including kylie valentine at UNSW and Catherine Mills at Monash, with whom I am planning a new project on foetal health and neuro-parenting, and ANU colleagues, Mary-Lou Rasmussen, Helen Keane, Catherine Waldby, Maria Hynes and many others with whom I will be working on issue relating to fertility and reproduction.I am continuing also to work with long-term friends and colleagues in the UK, including Karen Throsby, Louise Ann Wilson and Vicky Singleton.





Current student projects

I am currently co-supervising 4 PhD projects, having supervised 12 projects to completion to date.

Current students:

Cron Cronshaw, Lancaster University, working on the experiences of parents of trans or gender-queer children.

Theresa Atkinson, Lancaster University, researching telecare for older people in the UK

Nicola Sugden, Manchester University, working on the impact of Donald Winnicott's work on NHS mental health services for children

Tate McAllister, ANU, researching the material practices of trans masculinity


Past student projects

Lin Wen-Yuan (2005) on the practices of kidney dialysis in Taiwan

Kaori Sasaki (2006) on brain death in Japan

Ranjini C.R. (2006) on health information technologies in rural India

Anne Rudolph (2009) on sexually transmitted infections in lesbian young women

Clare Hollowell (2010) on young women's conceptions of fun

Shih, Li-Wen (2012) on pregnancy ultrasound in Taiwan

Brigit McWade (2014) on arts and recovery in mental health

Kate McNicholas-Smith (2015) on lesbians on TV

Oscar Maldonado (2015) on the HPV vaccine in Colombia

Rebecca Fish (2015) on learning disabled women living in secure accomodation in England

Alison Hanbury (2016) on the HPV vaccine in England

Joann Wilkinson (2017) on ovulation biosensing


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Updated:  18 June 2019 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers