Dr. Kieran O’Doherty

Meet Dr. Kieran O’Doherty


Profile(s): University of Guelph Experts, Department of Psychology, Research Laboratory Page, Community Engaged Scholarship Institute (CESI)

Keywords: Applied social psychology, Bioethics, Genetic risk, Health psychology, Participatory governance, Public deliberation, Public participation in biotechnology and science, Science and society, Social aspects of health and illness, Theoretical psychology

Current Positions:

  • Professor – Department of Psychology, College of Social and Applied Human Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph ON
  • Faculty Affiliate – Community Engaged Scholarship Institute (CESI), University of Guelph, Guelph ON
  • Editor in Chief – Theory & Psychology 

Seeking Academic or Industry Partnerships in the Areas of (Optional/Consider!):

  • Developing qualitative methods in psychology
  • Community engagement & public deliberation
  • Social & ethical implications of genetics/genomics
  • Discourse analysis
  • Risk & uncertainty
  • Human agency

Education and Employment Background:

  • BSc (Physics; Chemical Sciences) – University of Witwatersrand (1995; Johannesburg, South Africa)
  • BHSc (Hons. Psychology) – University of Adelaide (2001; Adelaide, Australia)
  • PhD Psychology – University of Adelaide (2006; Adelaide, Australia)
  • Assistant Professor – Department of Applied Ethics, W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics School of Population and Public Health, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC

Research Themes & Interests:

Much of Professor O’Doherty’s research focuses on the social and ethical aspects of science and technology, with a particular emphasis on health & illness; different projects tend to overlap and interact in different ways, and much of his research is interdisciplinary. In this context, he has conducted research on genetic testing, biobanks, salmon genomics, human microbiome science, and childhood vaccination. Topic areas that he focuses on include the social aspects of health and illness, public participation in biotechnology and science, genetic risk, the language of uncertainty, and participatory governance.

He uses mainly qualitative methods, as well as conducting conceptual and theoretical research. He also works with deliberative public engagements as a mechanism to involve members of the public in developing policy recommendations about science & technology. He is interested in questions of ethics, human agency, and epistemology and ontology in science and psychology.

Recent Research Focuses & Partnerships:

  • Past and current student projects in Professor O’Doherty’s research group include research on topics such as: women’s health; ageing; biobanks; risk communication; social and psychological aspects of illness.
    • AGE-WELL (Aging Gracefully Across Environments using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagement and Long Life) is one of the Networks of Centres of Excellence. This network is comprised of 25 core projects, whose goal is to harness the potential of high quality and sustainable technology services and solutions to meet the needs of the current and future generations of older adults in Canada, including OA-INVOLVE (Older Adult’s Active Involvement in Aging and Technology).
    • Social Impacts of COVID-19 and Pandemic Response Measures & Public Input into Pandemic Planning
    • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases & Food Practices
    • Ontario Vaccine Deliberation
  • Research supported by: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Research & Innovation, Genome Canada and Genome British Columbia, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
  • Designing and implementing public deliberations in which members of the public engage in in-depth discussion about ethical aspects of science and technology and collectively develop recommendations for policy.

Select Publications:

  • Kieran C. O’Doherty, Lisa M. Osbeck, Ernst Schraube, Jeffery Yen (eds.) (2019). Psychological Studies of Science and Technology. Palgrave-Macmillan. ISBN 978-3-030-25307-3
  • Kieran C. O’Doherty & Darrin Hodgetts (eds.). (2019). The SAGE Handbook of Applied Social Psychology. London: Sage. ISBN: 9781473969261
  • O’Doherty, K. & Einsiedel, E. (eds.). (2012). Public Engagement and Emerging Technologies. Vancouver: UBC Press.
  • O’Doherty, K. C. & Burgess, M. M. (2019). Developing psychologically compelling understanding of the involvement of humans in research. Human Arenas2(4), 433-450. doi: 10.1007/s42087-019-00066-w
  • Christofides, E., Stroud, K., Tullis, D. E., & O’Doherty, K. C. (2019). Improving dissemination of study results: Perspectives of individuals with cystic fibrosis. Research Ethics15(3-4), 1-14. doi: 10.1177/1747016119869847
  • Crann, S. E., Cunningham, S., Albert, A., Money, D. M., & O’Doherty, K. C. (2018). Vaginal health and hygiene practices and product use in Canada: A national cross-sectional survey. BMC Women’s Health, 18, 52. doi: 10.1186/s12905-018-0543-y
  • Chuong, K. H., Mack, D. R., Stinzi, A., O’Doherty, K. C. (2018). Human microbiome and learning healthcare systems: Integrating research and precision medicine for inflammatory bowel disease. OMICS A Journal of Integrative Biology, 22(2), 119-126. doi: 10.1089/omi.2016.0185
  • O’Doherty, K. C., Virani, A., & Wilcox, E. (2016). The human microbiome and public health: Social and ethical considerations. American Journal of Public Health, 106(3), 414-420. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302989
  • Christofides, E., & O’Doherty, K. C. (2016). Company disclosure and consumer perceptions of the privacy risks of direct-to-consumer genetic testing. New Genetics and Society, 35(2), 101-123. doi: 10.1080/14636778.2016.1162092
  • Barned, C., Dobson, J., Stinzi, A., Mack, D., & O’Doherty, K. C. (2018). Children’s perspectives on the benefits and burdens of research participation. AJOB Empirical Bioethics, 9(1), 19-28. doi: 10.1080/23294515.2018.1430709
  • O’Doherty, K. C., Christofides, E., Yen, J., Bentzen, H. B., Burke, W., Hallowell, N., Koenig, B. A., & Willison, D. J. (2016). If you build it, they will come: Unintended future uses of organised health data collections. BMC Medical Ethics, 17, 54. doi: 10.1186/s12910-016-0137-x 
  • O’Doherty, K. C., Neufeld, J. D., Brinkman, F. S. L., Gardner, H., Guttman, D. S., & Beiko, R. G. (2014). Conservation and Stewardship of the Human Microbiome. PNAS, 111(40), 14312-14313.
  • O’Doherty, K. C. & Burgess, M. M. (2013). Public deliberation to develop ethical norms and inform policy for biobanks: Lessons learnt and challenges remaining. Research Ethics, 9(2), 55-77.
  • Nep, S. & O’Doherty, K. (2013). Understanding public calls for labeling of GM foods: Analysis of a public deliberation on GM salmon. Society & Natural Resources, 26(5), 506-521.
  • O’Doherty, K. C., Gauvin, F.-P., Grogan, C., & Friedman, W. (2012). Implementing a Public Deliberative Forum. Hastings Center Report, 42(2), 20-23.
  • Hawkins, A. K., & O’Doherty, K. C. (2011). “Who owns your poop?”: insights regarding the intersection of human microbiome research and the ELSI aspects of biobanking and related studies. BMC Medical Genomics, 4, 72.
  • O’Doherty, K. C., Burgess, M. M., Edwards, K., Gallagher, R., Hawkins, A., Kaye, J., McCaffrey, V., & Winickoff, D. (2011). From consent to institutions: Designing adaptive governance for genomic biobanks. Social Science and Medicine73, 367-374. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.05.046.
  • O’Doherty, K. (2009). Agency and Choice in Genetic Counseling: Acknowledging Patients’ Concerns. Journal of Genetic Counseling, 18(5). 464-474.
  • O’Doherty, K. (2006). Risk Communication in Genetic Counselling: A discursive approach to probability. Theory and Psychology, 16 (2), 225-256.


Email: odohertk@uoguelph.ca

Phone: (519) 824-4120 ext. 58919

Office: Mackinnon Extension 3014

College of Social and Applied Human Sciences
University of Guelph
50 Stone Road E.,
Guelph, ON, Canada, N1G 2W1