Interdisciplinary Decision-Making

Supporting responsible decision-making in biotechnology development.

The Interdisciplinary Decision Making (IDM) theme aims to support responsible decision-making in biotechnology development. This is undertaken before we engage in engineering biology – by helping to identify which projects have social, economic and environmental value. The research theme is inherently interdisciplinary in its approach, integrating the socio-economic and biophysical sciences.

The theme also seeks to develop the area of economics by evaluating the impact of biotechnologies, and capturing broader disruptions to the economy, society, and environment.

Our approach

This theme will undertake research to understand what two-way influences might exist between incoming advanced engineering biology innovations and society. This analysis will be conducted at multiple levels (e.g., individual, community, organisation) and within different sectors (e.g., institutions, industry).

The IDM theme will focus on the following broad areas of research:

  • Enabling the development of new and improved industries for Australia, focusing on broader feasibility and sustainability questions, for example:
    • Techno-economics analyses – assessing direct financial costs and benefits, and indirect costs and benefits (e.g., environmental, social)
    • Social research – investigating societal uptake and adoption of solutions at multiple levels and within sectors (individuals, communities, organisations, industries, government, and research); distribution of benefits and costs of solutions
    • Institutional innovation – identifying 1) institutional levers and constraints to biotechnology development; 2) missing links in the value chain; 3) knowledge gaps and processes. This will aid in promoting, cultural and organisational change, capacity building, and improving inter-organisational relationships and partnerships
    • Government and industry policy and regulations – analyses of impacts and options.

Delivering impact

The IDM theme will enable the development of biotechnologies that deliver maximum societal benefit and achieve social acceptance. Understanding whether new innovations have achieved social acceptance will be measured through public perceptions of technologies in delivering positive social, economic, and environmental outcomes.


Theme Leader, Interdisciplinary decision-making


Is public engagement in bioengineering and synthetic biology improving research outcomes?

Carter, Lucy; Mankad, Aditi; Hobman, Elizabeth V. Is public engagement in bioengineering and synthetic biology improving research outcomes?. OMICS Journal of Integrative Biology. 2023; 27(2):1-4.