Barbara Allen

Professor, STS - National Capital Region Campus

Northern Virginia Campus

Email: ballen@vt.eduPhone: 703-538-3780
Office Hours: By appointmentOffice: 7054 Haycock Road, Rm. 460, Falls Church, VA 22043

Dr. Allen teaches graduate courses in the social study of science and technology at Virginia Tech's Washington DC-area campus in Falls Church, VA. Most recently she has taught courses on: social study of science and technology, sociology of knowledge, public participation in S+T, qualitative research methods, and science, technology and social justice. She has two recent research projects that fall broadly within two interdisciplinary areas: 1) the political sociology of science and technology, and 2) community-based participatory environmental health. She is currently working on an NSF-funded project that examines the dynamics of citizens, science, regulation and environmental justice in heavily polluted regions in the U.S. and the EU (Italy and France). She is interested in how different national, cultural and institutional contexts condition the dynamics of citizen response to environmental problems and regulatory change. Additionally, she examines how citizens, organizations, and other non-traditional science institutions participate in the shaping of policy-relevant scientific and technical knowledge.

Allen is also currently funded by the French Agency for Environmental and Occupational Health (ANSES) to develop, conduct, analyze, and disseminate a participatory environmental survey in two towns in a polluted industrial zone.  Additionally the project will gather empirical data on civic styles of citizen engagement in France for comparison with the US and other EU nations.

Previously, also funded by the NSF, Allen completed research that examined both the efficacy of, and the types of justice embedded in, NGO efforts in the rebuilding and repatriation of post-disaster New Orleans. Through comparative analysis of the rebuilding of three heavily flooded neighborhoods, she drew draw conclusions on what synergies and alliances were most successful and why.

Allen received her Ph.D. in STS from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1999. Prior to that she was both a professor and practitioner of architecture.

Dr. Allen's New Orleans Research Project website can be found here:


NGO Strategies and the Rebuilding of Post-Katrina New Orleans: Case Studies from Three Neighborhoods

Publications in Science & Technology Studies


2003 Uneasy Alchemy: Citizens and Experts in Louisiana's Chemical Corridor Disputes, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press).

Edited Books

2011 Dynamics of Disaster: Lessons on Risk, Response, and Recovery, (London: Earthscan Press) edited with Rachel Dowty, foreword by Alan Irwin.

Selected Publications

2016 Allen, Barbara, Yolaine Ferrier and Alison Cohen. "Through a Maze of Studies:Health Questions and 'Undone Science" in a French Industrial Region."Environmental Sociology, DOI: 10.1080/23251042.2016.1220850

2016 Allen, Barbara, Alison Cohen, Yolaine Ferrier, Johanna Lees, and Travis Richards. "Redesigning a Participatory Health Study for a French Industrial Context." New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy 26(3): 458-474.

2014 "From Suspicious Illness to Policy Change in Petrochemical Regions: Popular Epidemiology, Science, and the Law in the U.S. and Italy" in Powerless Science? The Making of the Toxic World in the Twentieth Century,, eds. Soraya Boudia and Nathalie Jas (Oxford, UK: Berghahn Books), pp. 153-169.

2013 "Justice as Measure of Non Governmental Organization (NGO) Success in Post-Disaster Community Assistance," Science, Technology and Human Values, Vol. 38, No. 2, pp. 224-249.

2013 "Neighborhood as "Green Laboratory": A Critique of Actor Network Theory and Allied NGO Strategies in Post-Disaster New Orleans," Rassegna Italiana di Sociologia, Vol.54, No.1, pp. 3-25

2011 "A Tale of Two Lawsuits: Making Policy-Relevant Environmental Health Knowledge in Italian and US Chemical Regions" in Dangerous Trades,, eds. Chris Sellers and Jo Melling (Philadelphia: Temple Univerity Press).

2011 "Laboratorization and the "Green" Rebuilding of New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward," in The Neoliberal Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, Late Capitalism, and the Remaking of New Orleans, ed. Cedric Johnson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press).

2010 "Les Frontieres de la Sante Environnementale a L'epreuve," in Sur la Piste Environnementale,, eds. Madeleine Akrich, Yannick Barthe, and Catherine Remy (Paris: Presses des MINES) pp.197-222.

2008 "Environment, Health, and Missing Information," Environmental History, Vol. 13:4, pp.659-666.

2008 "Treme: The Challenges of an Equitable Recovery in New Orleans" co-authored with Isabelle Maret, Projections: MIT Journal of PLanning,, Vol. 8, pp.190-211.

2007 "La Transformazione Industriale del Basso Corso del Mississippi in Louisiana," I Frutti di Demetra, Vol. 14, pp.47-56.

2007 "Environmental Justice, Local Knowledge, and After Disaster Planning in New Orleans," Technology in Society, Vol. 29, pp.153-159.

2007 "Environmental Justice and Expert Knowledge in the Wake of a Disaster," Social Studies of Science, Vol. 37:1, pp.103-110.