As a researcher, I am interested in how conditions of humanity are shaped in contemporary society through science and technology and what forms of inclusion and exclusion the changes entail. I have explored these questions by focusing on knowledge production in genetics, reproductive medicine and stem cell science, and technologies of reproduction, in particular infertility treatment (IVF), prenatal testing, and abortion. My current work involves exploring and developing speculative research approaches and theorization on both reproductive and ageing futures. Much of this work is based on a previous project on biomedical craftwork, where I studied the affective, embodied and relational basis of doing bioscience and the role of patients in knowledge production: Craft in Biomedical Research: The iPS Cell Technology and the Future of Stem Cell Science (2018).
My recent projects include the Academy of Finland research project VALDA: Valuating Lives through Infertility and Dementia, where we used ethnographic and text analysis methods to study value creation and governance related to reproduction and ageing, and the Reproductive Futures project, where we organised several scientific and public events on fertility decline, family futures and ecological disruption. I am also co-founder of the Finnish Reproductive Studies Network (FiReSNet).
I teach and supervise theses on the topics of biomedicine, biotechnologies, and knowledge production; reproduction, ageing, and assisting technologies; gender, body and materialities; text analysis and multisited ethnography.
Previously, I worked at University of Helsinki as academy research fellow, university lecturer in science and technology studies, and academy postdoctoral researcher. I have also been a visiting research fellow at London School of Economics and Political Science, King’s College, London, and University of Cambridge.
In this important book, Mianna Meskus draws on her extensive fieldwork to portray a rapidly evolving world of human pluripotent stem cell science characterized simultaneously by instrumentality, care, and craftwork. With considerable implications for how we understand the technologization of biology more generally, Meskus shows that as stem cells are becoming a highly versatile biological research tool, working with them continues to require demanding embodied skills and judgment, and dense political and affective engagement; the former is not dependent upon outgrowing the latter.
– Charis Thompson, Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, University of California at Berkeley and Associate Director of Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society at UC Berkeley.
In this illuminating study of the iPS cell line, Mianna Meskus draws attention to the ‘craftwork’ at the heart of the laboratory. Her study shows just how unpredictable the pathway from the lab to the clinic to the market can be and how only a highly artisanal craftwork is able to bridge this gap. This is an invaluable contribution to the field of science studies and new materialisms.
– Melinda Cooper, Associate Professor in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney.
The book Muokattu elämä (Moulded Life) brings together the work of front line Finnish feminist science and technology scholars on phenomena such as genetic testing, IVF, food production, hormone treatment and AIDS activism. The book translates and develops feminist theorization on technoscience, gender and materiality for the Finnish academic audiences. Co-edited with Sari Irni and Venla Oikkonen.
The book Elämän tiede (Science of Life) discusses medical government of human heredity with specific focus on the history of clinical genetics in Finland, the development of prenatal screening technologies, and their implications for the female body and parenthood. The book has been awarded by the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, and the Finnish Researcher Network on Qualitative Health Studies (LATE).