Barbara L. Allen


Barbara L. Allen



7054 Haycock Road
Falls Church, VA 22043


(703) 538-3780



  • Public Engagement with Science/Technology
  • Environmental Justice
  • Comparative EU/US Environmental Policy
  • Community/Participatory Environmental Health Research
  • Science, Technology and Social Justice

Professional Activities

  • Society for Social Studies of Science
  • European Association for the Study of Science and Technology
  • American Sociological Association
  • Washington Science Policy Alliance


  • Ph.D. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • M.S. Columbia University
  • B.S. University of Colorado, Boulder

Research Interests

    Awards and Honors

    National Science Foundation, Division of Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, Invited Distinguished Lecture, 2014

    Fellowship, IMéRA (Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Research), Marseille (France), 2013-2014

    Excellence In Administration Award, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Virginia Tech, 2011-2102

    Selected Publications


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

    Edited Books

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


    2019 Allen, Barbara, Xavier Coumoul, and Silvia Lacorte. “Microplastic freshwater contamination: an issue advanced by science with public engagement,” Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 1-2 (published online).

    2018 Allen, Barbara, Alison Cohen, Yolaine Ferrier and Johanna Lees. “Exemple d’une étude participative en Santé-Environnement : Étude participative en Santé-Environnement Ancrée Localement (EPSEAL) sur le front industriel de la zone Fos-sur-Mer/Étang de Berre (France),” Les cahiers de la Recherche-Santé, Environnement, Travail. (12): 12-14. 

    2018 “Strongly Participatory Science and Knowledge Justice in an Environmentally Contested Region,” Science, Technology, & Human Values. 

    2017 Cohen, Alison, Travis Richards, Barbara Allen, Yolaine Ferrier, Johanna Lees, Louisa Smith. “Health Issues in the Industrial Port Zone of Marseille, France: The Fos EPSEAL Community-Based Cross-Sectional Survey", Journal of Public Health. doi.:10.1007/s10389-017-0857-5.

    2017 "A Successful Experiment in Participatory Science for Promoting Change in a French Industrial Region," Engaging Science, Technology, and Society, 3:375-381.

    2017 Egert, Philip, and Barbara Allen. “Knowledge Justice: An Opportunity for Counter-Expertise in Security vs. Science Debates,” Science as Culture. Doi: 10.1080/09505431.2017.1339683.

    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, 3(2): 134–144. 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? Science and Politics in a Toxic World, eds. Soraya Boudia and Nathalie Jas (Oxford, UK: Berghahn Books) pp.152–169.

    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.

    2012 “A Tale of Two Lawsuits: Making Policy-Relevant Environmental Health Knowledge in Italian and US Chemical Regions,” in Dangerous Trade: Histories of Industrial Hazard Across a Globalizing World, eds. Chris Sellers and Jo Melling (Philadelphia: Temple University Press) pp. 154–167.

    Sponsored Research

    2017-2019 ANSES (L’Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail) (200,000 euros) “Etude participative en santé environnement ancrée localement EPSEAL comparant deux villes du golfe de Fos et une ville hors de ce front industriel.”

    2015–2017 ANSES (L’Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail) (208,000 euros) ”Etude  Participative en Santé-Environnement Ancrée Localement (EPSEAL) sur le front  industriel de la zone Fos-sur-Mer/ Etang de Berre.” Learn more at

    2012–2017 National Science Foundation ($138,000) “Chemical Communities: Shaping Policy-Relevant Science and Industrial Transformation in an International Perspective (EU and US).”

    2009–2012 National Science Foundation ($125,000) “Dynamics of Citizens and Organizations in Knowledge Making, Building Practices, and repatriation of New Orleans’ Historic Neighborhoods.” Learn more 

    Additional Information

    Barbara Allen is currently working on several research projects that examine the dynamics of citizens, science, regulation, and environmental justice in heavily polluted regions in the United States and the European Union. The research examines how different national, cultural, and institutional contexts condition the dynamics of citizen response to environmental problems and regulatory change. The projects also explore how citizens, organizations, and other non-traditional science institutions participate in the shaping of policy-relevant scientific and technical knowledge.

    Additionally, Allen has been leading a Community-Based Participatory Environmental Health (CBPEH) project funded by the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health+Safety (ANSES) to develop, conduct, analyze, and disseminate an environmental health study in several towns in a polluted industrial zone. The project has a training workshop component that will enable French and European scholars and public health professional to learn this methodology (CBPEH), which has its origins in the U.S. environmental justice movement.