Dr. David Castle

Dr. David Castle

PhD (Guelph-McMaster), MA., BA (Honors), BSc.

Area of expertise

Science, technology and innovation policy , Open science and research data

Professional Information & Research Interests

Professional Information

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. His position was bridged to the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, and he worked closely with scientists 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 led 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. In this position he was cross-appointed between the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Law, working with professors of law in the Centre for Law, Technology and Society. In 2010, the position of Professor and personal Chair of Innovation in the Life Sciences and was cross-appointed between the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the College of Science and Engineering. He developed a new strategic plan for the Innogen Institute for Innovation Generation in the Life Sciences, and created new postgraduate programme, the MSc in Bioeconomy, Innovation and Governance (MSc BIG). 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.

Research Interests

  • Biodiversity surveillance
  • Research security
  • Socio-technological change (intellectual property, regulation, standards, public acceptance)
  • Foresight and scenario planning

Dr. Castle’s research is focused on science, technology and innovation policy, with a particular emphasis on regulation, standards, intellectual property and public consultation associated with life science innovation. His work 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 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.

Dr. Castle joined the International Science Council’s World Data System (WDS) Scientific Committee in 2019. As Vice-President Research at the University of Victoria (2014-19), he supported the creation of the WDS International Technology Office hosted at Ocean Networks Canada at the University of Victoria. Dr. Castle is a Director for Canada’s national research and education network provider, Canarie, and is the Chair of Research Data Canada’s Steering Committee. He was recently a member of the OECD Global Science Forum Expert Group that released the report, Building Digital Workforce Capacity and Skills for Data Intensive Science in July, 2020. He is also a member of the Science Advisory Committee of the Council of Canadian Academies. Through these and other efforts, Dr. Castle contributes to the Canadian and international research environments by focusing on the interactions between science policy, supporting infrastructure, and skills.


Selected Publications

  • Phillips, PWB and D Castle. (2021). Science and Innovation in the Canadian Provinces and Territories. Toronto: University of Toronto. Forthcoming under contract.
  • Smyth, S., PWB Phillips and D. Castle. (2020). Evidence-based policy making: Determining what is evidence. Heliyon. 6:7, pp. 1-8. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e04519
  • Castle D and PWB Phillips. (2018). The ‘New Innovation Agenda” Three Years On: A work in progress of a valiant experiment? How Ottawa Spends 2012-2013. 89-105.
  • Weckowska D. et al. (2017). Managing the transition to open access publishing; a psychological perspective. Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation. DOI: 10.1080/08109028.2017.1408289.
  • Smyth, S., PWB Phillips and D. Castle. (2017). (Mis)information and the politicization of food security. Animal Frontiers, 7:2, pp. 33–38. DOI 10.2527/af.2017.0116.
  • Doern B, D Castle and PWB Phillips. (2016). Canadian Science, Technology and Innovation Policy: The Innovation Economy and Society Nexus. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.
  • Phillips PWB, D Castle and S Smyth (eds.). (2016). Biotechnology, Agriculture and Development. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar
  • Levin, N. et al. (2016). How do scientists define openness? Exploring the relationship between open science policies and research practice. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society 36/2: 1-13. DOI 10.1177/0270467616668760.
  • Nicholls, SG et al. (2016). Attitudes to incorporating genomic risk assessments into population screening programs: the importance of purpose, context and deliberation. BMC Medical Genomics 9:25 DOI 10.1186/s12920-016-0186-5.
  • Rosiello A, M Mastroeni, D Castle, PWB Phillips. (2015). Clusters, technological districts and smart specialisation: an empirical analysis of policy implementation challenge. International Journal of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Management, 19:304-26.
  • Schindel, DE, T Bubela, J Rosenthal, D Castle, P du Plessis, R Bye. (2015). The new age of the Nagoya Protocol. Nature Conservation. 12:45-56 DOI 10.3897/natureconservation.12.5412.

Recent Conference Presentations and Lectures

  • (2020) The Internet of Things: Emerging Policy Issues in Digital Agriculture. 53rd Annual Hawaii International Conference for Systems Science. Maui, January 2020.
  • (2019) Whither Democratic Engagement? International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology Research (ICABR). Ravello, June 6.
  • (2018) What is the current nature of the relationship between the scientific community and policy makers? British Columbia Science and Policy Conference, Vancouver, May 11.
  • (2017) Geographical Indications, Intellectual Property, and Regional Economic Development. Association of Wine Business Research, Sonoma State University, July 27.
  • (2017) Public Policy as an Emergent Output of Heterarchical Meso Processes. International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology Research (ICABR), University of California Berkeley, June 1.
  • (2016) A Long Needed Separation: Science, Innovation and Industrial Policies. International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology Research (ICABR), Ravello, June 27.