David Castle

 David Castle
Adjunct Professor


Dr. Castle’s first degree was in microbiology and biochemistry and his second was an honours undergraduate degree in philosophy. He continued in philosophy with a master’s degree, and subsequently completed his doctorate in philosophy of science from the Guelph-McMaster Joint Doctoral program in 1998. His doctorate developed an account of the semantic conception of scientific theory that explained why mathematical models are forms of scientific explanation, an account he then used to resolve three disputes in theoretical ecology.

In 2000 he joined the Department of Philosophy at the University of Guelph as a philosopher of science, particularly focused on biology, and worked closely with scientists in Molecular Biology and Genetics in the development of interdisciplinary research and teaching. Increasingly Dr. Castle’s attention focused on the normative issues at the heart of controversies surrounding life science innovation and biotechnology development. This interest lead him to the University of Ottawa in 2006 where, as Canada Research Chair in Science and Society, he established the Institute for Science, Society and Policy to serve as a federally located hub of interdisciplinary research and engagement. Thereafter took up, in 2010, the position of Professor and Chair of Innovation in the Life Sciences, and developed and implemented a sustainability plan for the Innogen Institute for Innovation Generation in the Life Sciences. In 2014 Dr. Castle joined the University of Victoria as a Professor in the School of Public Administration, an adjunct faculty member of the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, and as Vice-President Research.

Dr. Castle’s research focuses on social aspects of life science innovation, particularly the structure and dynamics of innovation systems. This includes analysis of the organizations and institutions that jointly act as determinants of innovation by shaping the context in which science and technology innovation transpires. One important theme of his research in this field is the study of the role of intellectual property protection and knowledge management in innovation systems, particularly with respect to the role of intellectual property in ‘open’ and ‘closed’ systems of innovation. Another theme of his research is the role that norms and evidence play in the structuring of policy problems and how inputs, such as putative ‘sound science’, or outcomes of democratic engagement, shape decision making in science and technology policy. This work is particularly important in the context of biodiversity science and conservation biology where disputes about evidence and its normative interpretation frequently arise. The third theme in his research program is the role of regulation and governance both in enabling, and also constraining, life science innovation. Dr. Castle has considered these three themes extensively in the context of biodiversity and environmental science, agricultural biotechnology, and personalized genetic testing.

As a dyed-in-the-wool interdisciplinary researcher and teacher, Dr. Castle has published extensively and in a wide variety of contexts on the social dimensions of science, technology and innovation. He has held several major research awards, has developed and managed large, international research networks, and has considerable experience leading strategic research initiatives and research project management. He has also played pivotal roles in developing interdisciplinary teaching opportunities at all levels. Dr. Castle has consulted widely to government and industry on issues such as the impact of national technology transfer policies and programs, intellectual property and knowledge management strategies, and the role of non-scientific considerations in the regulation of science and technology. Having held positions in Canada and the United Kingdom, he maintains a broad network of interdisciplinary social science and humanities researchers who are focused on the life sciences, biotechnology, and science and technology driven innovation.