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Dr. Sonja Palfner


Since November 2010 Dr. Sonja Palfner has been Research Associate at the Center of Technology and Society, where she has been leading a project on e-science funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Her field of research is conceptually positioned in the interdisciplinary framework of Science and Technology Studies. Her present research interest focuses on the organisation of science and research in the context of the development of e-infrastructures by applying a comparative approach. Sonja Palfner’s research further concentrates on progresses in medical genetic engineering particularly in regard to the social impacts of the scientific and institutional developments related to breast cancer genes.

From 2008 to 2010 she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the DFG (German Research Foundation) funded interdisciplinary postgraduate school “Topology of Technology“ at the Technische Universität Darmstadt. Her research focused on e-infrastructures in climate research in regard to the history of The German High Performance Computing Centre for Climate- and Earth System Research (DKRZ) in Hamburg, Germany.

From 2005 to 2007 she was a Doctoral Student at the DFG postgraduate school "Gender as a Category of Knowledge" at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. In spring 2008, Sonja Palfner concluded her doctorate in political science with a disputation at the Otto-Suhr-Institute of Political Science at the Freie Universität, Berlin. Her thesis “Gen-Passagen” was published at transcript publishing house in Bielefeld, Germany in 2009 (http://www.transcript-verlag.de/ts1214/ts1214.php).

Sonja Palfner studied political science at the Otto-Suhr-Institute of Political Science from 2000 to 2003. Before 2000 she studied Latin American area studies at the University of Cologne. During her university studies, she worked part-time for the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR, West German Broadcasting) in Cologne and for Ambulante Dienste e.V. in Berlin.


At present she is one of the spokespersons of the working group ”Politics, Science and Technology” of the German Political Science Association (DVPW - Deutschen Vereinigung für Politische Wissenschaft), she is a founding member of the International BRCA-Networks. Furthermore she is a member of the European Association for the Study of Science and Society (EASST) and the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) and a member of the DFG funded interdisciplinary network “Atmosphere & Algorithms”.

Selected Publications


Palfner, Sonja (2009): Gen-Passagen. Molekularbiologische und medizinische Praktiken im Umgang mit Brustkrebs-Genen. Wissen – Technologie – Diagnostik, Bielefeld: transcript.  

Research papers

Palfner, Sonja (mit Gibbon, Sahra/ Joseph, Galen/ Kalender, Ute/ Kampriani, Eirini/ Mozersky, Jessica/ Nieden, Andrea zur) (2010): Introduction. Special section: Perspectives on globalizing genomics: The case of ‘BRCA’ breast cancer research and medical practice, in: BioSocieties, Vol. 5, 407-414.

Palfner, Sonja (2010): Gen-Werden – Gen-Wandel? In: Landwehr, Achim (Hg.): Diskursiver Wandel, Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag, 53-67.

Palfner, Sonja (2010): Gen-Wissen zwischen Labor und Früherkennung, in: Liebsch, Katharina/ Manz, Ulrike (Hg.): Leben mit den Lebenswissenschaften. Wie wird biomedizinisches Wissen in Alltagspraxis übersetzt? Bielefeld: transcript.

Palfner, Sonja (2009): Mit dem Brustkrebs-Gen bis ins Labor, in: Gen-ethische Informationsdienst (GID), Nr. 197, 40-45.

Palfner, Sonja (2008): Franziska Bennemann (1905-1986). „Sie hatte den Mut, die Wahrheit zu sagen.“, in: Mielke, Siegfried (Hg.): Gewerkschafterinnen im NS-Staat: Verfolgung, Widerstand, Emigration, Essen: Klartext Verlag, 82-87.

Palfner, Sonja (2006): Werkzeug Aussage – Ein politikwissenschaftlicher Versuch, in: Kerchner, Brigitte/ Schneider, Silke (Hg.): Foucault: Diskursanalyse der Politik. Eine Einführung, Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag, 210-230.


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