Professor Joan Leach

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I have held the role of Director of the Australian National Centre for Public Awareness of Science at the ANU (colloquially known as 'CPAS') since January 2016. Given the broad nature of CPAS's research and teaching interests in science communication, public engagement, policy, knowledge brokering, risk, and ethics, I strive to make the Centre a home for inter- and transdisciplinary research and collaboration. 

My own research and teaching centres on theories of the public in science communication, language and rhetoric in science (both in public and in technical contexts), and the challenge of ethics in science communication. I'm most interested in sociological accounts of knowledge production and I edited the journal Social Epistemology for 9 years. 

I am a past president of Australian Science Communicators, a founding member of the American Association for the Rhetoric of Science and Technology, and am Chair of the National Committee for History and Philosophy of Science at the Australian Academy of Science. Purdue University (USA) awarded me a science laureateship for services to public engagement with science. 

I have called Australia home since 2005. I have been privileged to work at a number of world-leading Universities including Imperial College London, the University of Queensland, and the University of Pittsburgh.


Research interests

Science communication history and theories of the public

Public Argumentation about Controversial Science with special interest in synthetic biology, Quantum technologies, neuroethics, and population health

Responsible Research and Innovation

Social Epistemology; how society makes and communicates knowledge

Rhetorical approaches to scientific argumentation--contemporary and historical

Ethical approaches to Science Communication


  • Roberson, T, Leach, J & Raman, S 2021, 'Talking about public good for the second quantum revolution: Analysing quantum technology narratives in the context of national strategies', Quantum Science and Technology, vol. 6, no. 2.
  • O'Connor, R, Nel, J, Roux, D et al. 2021, 'The role of environmental managers in knowledge co-production: Insights from two case studies', Environmental Science and Policy, vol. 116, pp. 188-195.
  • Gascoigne, T, Schiele, B, Leach, J et al. 2020, Communicating Science: A Global Perspective, ANU Press, Australia.
  • O'Connor, R, Nel, J, Roux, D et al. 2019, 'Principles for evaluating knowledge co-production in natural resource management: Incorporating decision-maker values', Journal of Environmental Management, vol. 249, pp. 1-8.
  • Rowbotham, S, McKinnon, M, Leach, J & Lamberts, R 2017, 'Does citizen science have the capacity to transform population health science? [IN PRESS]', Critical Public Health, vol. Online, pp. 1-12.
  • Montgomery, L, Hartley, J, Neylon, C et al. 2018, Open Knowledge Institutions Reinventing Universities, The MIT Press, Online.
  • Doran, M, Barnett, A, Leach, J et al. 2017, 'Can video improve grant review quality and lead to more reliable ranking?', Research Ideas and Outcomes, vol. 3.
  • Leach, J 2017, 'A note from the 1960s: Science communication as a solution to complex science', Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales, vol. 150, no. 1, pp. 118-121.
  • Medvecky, F & Leach, J 2017, 'The ethics of science communication', Journal of Science Communication, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 1-5.
  • Gallois, C, Ashworth, P, Leach, J et al 2017, 'The Language of Science and Social Licence to Operate', Journal of Language and Social Psychology, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 45-60.
  • Leach, J 2016, 'A Comic Moment for Social Epistemology', in James H. Collier (ed.), The Future of Social Epistemology: A collective vision, Rowman and Littlefield, London, pp. 11-19pp.
  • Leach, J 2015, 'The Role of Science Communication in International Diplomacy', in Lloyd S Davis and Robert G Patman (ed.), Science Diplomacy: New Day or False Dawn, World Scientific Publishing Co, Singapore, pp. 155-169pp.
  • Rooney, D, Leach, J & Ashworth, P 2014, 'Doing the Social in Social License', Social Epistemology: A Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Policy, vol. 28, no. 3-4, pp. 209-218.
  • Weir, P, Leach, J, Gamble, J et al. 2014, 'Twenty-First Century Minerva: Are there career impacts for women who receive a "Women in Science" Fellowship?', International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 197-208.
  • Colthorpe, K, rowland, S & Leach, J 2013, Good Practice Guide Science, Threshold learning outcome 4: Communication, Department of Education, Sydney.
  • Leach, J 2013, 'Science Communication', in P Simonson, J Peck, R T Craig, & J P Jackson (ed.), The Handbook of Communication History, Routledge, New York, pp. 289-301pp.
  • Leach, J 2012, 'Social Epistemology', in Adrian Carter, Wayne Hall and Judy Illes (ed.), Addiction Neuroethics, Academic Press, London, pp. 231-244.
  • Leach, J & McKenzie, M, eds, 2012, ASC Conference Australian Science Communicators Conference, ACS, Australia.
  • Leach, J 2010, 'Social Epistemology', in Susanna Hornig Priest (ed.), Encyclopedia of science and technology communication, Sage Publications Inc, USA, pp. 674-677.
  • Leach, J & Dysart-Gale, D 2010, Rhetorical Questions of Health and Medicine, Lexington Books, Lanham.
  • Leach, J & Burns, M 2009, 'Science as an extra dividend: Frontiers of science', Issues Journal, vol. 87, pp. 31-32.
  • Leach, J 2009, 'Media Witnessing: Testimony in the Age of Mass Communication', in A Pinchevsky and P Frosh (ed.), Media Witnessing: Testimony in the Age of Mass Communication, Palgrave Macmillan, London.
  • Leach, J 2009, 'The Question of Value for Science Communicators', Public Communication of Science and Technology, Public Communication of Science and Technology, Malmo.
  • Leach, J 2009, 'Models of Communication', in Richard Holliman (ed.), Investigating Science Communication in the information age: Implications for public engagement and popular media, Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 182-198.
  • Bromley, M, Fitgerald, R, Gallois, C et al 2009, 'Recommendations for a directed approach to science communication along the National Framework/Local Action model.'.
  • Leach, J 2009, 'The art of medicine Valuing Communication', The Lancet, vol. 373, no. 9681, pp. 2104-2105.
  • Leach, J 2008, 'Peter Wall institute for Advanced Studies', Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, Canada.
  • Leach, J 2008, 'Science and its Publics', in Bell, Davis Mellor (ed.), Science and its Publics, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, pp. 117-133.
  • Grossman, J & Leach, J 2008, 'The Rhetoric of Research Methodology', Social Epistemology: A Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Policy, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 325-331.
  • Leach, J 2007, 'What is the new rhetoric', in S Thomas (ed.), What is the new Rhetoric, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, United Kingdom, pp. 69-81.
  • Leach, J 2007, 'Editorial', Social Epistemology: A Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Policy, vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 347-348.
  • Leach, J 2006, 'Media Panics', in Keith Brown (ed.), Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics, Elsevier, UK, pp. 607-609.
  • Leach, J 2006, 'Editor's Introduction', Social Epistemology: A Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Policy, vol. 20, no. 2, p. 129.
  • Leach, J 2006, 'Popularization, Mediation and the Scientific Frontier', Association for Rhetoric of Science and Technology, Association for Rhetoric of Science and Technology, San Diego.
  • Leach, J 2005, Review of Science and Citizens: Globalization and the Challenge of Engagement.
  • Sterne, J & Leach, J 2005, 'The Point of Social Construction and the Purpose of Social Critique', Social Epistemology: A Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Policy, vol. 19, no. 2-3, pp. 189-198.
  • Leach, J 2005, 'Science, Technology and Society An encyclopedia', in Sal Restivo (ed.), Science, Technology and Society an Encyclopedia, Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 379-387.