Assistant Professor, STS
- Ph.D., Sociology and Rural Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- M.S., Sociology and Rural Sociology, University of Wisconsin
- B.S., Science, Technology and Society, Vassar College
Abby Kinchy has a variety of research interests, including: food, agriculture, biotechnology, and rural communities; environmental politics and history; social movements and participatory science; and expertise and democracy.
“I specialize in the study of political controversies surrounding changes in the systems that produce food and energy,” Kinchy said. “My research examines the unequal distribution of the negative consequences of agricultural and energy systems, as well as the varying capacity of communities and social movements to participate in making decisions about technological change.”
Kinchy recently published her second book, Seeds, Science, and Struggle: The Global Politics of Transgenic Crops, a study of social protest against genetic engineering and in defense of alternative agriculture in Mexico and Canada. In the book, Kinchy examined political conflicts surrounding transgene flow--the genetic contamination of agricultural crops and food resulting from pollen drift and seed mixing. In each case, advocates of alternative agriculture confront what Kinchy calls ‘the scientization of biotechnology politics’ – the elevation of scientific risk assessment over questions about the compatibility of transgenic crops with other social goals.
Her most recent research concerns the controversy over hydraulic fracturing, as detailed in a 2012 article in Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum titled “Can Volunteers Pick up the Slack? Efforts to Fill Knowledge Gaps about the Watershed Effects of Marcellus Shale Gas Development.”
Kinchy has been honored as a Hennebach Visiting Scholar, in the Colorado School of Mines, and has been awarded the James M. Tien ’66 Early Career Award for Faculty from Rensselaer. She is also the recipient of recent grant awards from the NSF and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.