Raquel Velho

Associate Professor and Undergraduate Programs Director


Currently an associate professor in Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, I acquired my doctorate from the Department of Science and Technology Studies at University College London (UCL). My work focuses on the development of large sociotechnical systems, such as the public transport network, and how they are shaped and molded by marginalized and excluded users.

My major research project has focused on issues of transport accessibility for wheelchair users, researching how users' voices are (or aren't) included in the process of technological and infrastructural development.

My research explores the relationship between wheelchair users and the London transport system, and the inclusion mechanisms these users develop in order to navigate a network in which they are marginalized. It asks, “How do wheelchair users use public transport in London?” My fieldwork consisted of a series of interviews with wheelchair users and policy-makers, and observations of Garage Open-days and wheelchair skills training courses. My thesis was submitted in March, and defended in June 2017. You will find a summary of the thesis, as well as the thesis itself, in my "Research" page, under "Accessibility in Transport". My book with University of Washington Press on this topic is titled, Hacking the Underground: Disability, Infrastructures, and London’s Public Transportation System, and was released in November 2023.

My new research project explores the world of large-scale research infrastructures, especially astronomy ones, and their geopolitics. This is an emerging project. Some initial information can be found under Infrastructures of Big Science.

Education & Training
  • PhD - Science & Technology Studies - University College London, United Kingdom (2017)
  • MSc - Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society - Imperial College London, United Kingdom (2013)
  • BA - Sociology - Université de Nantes, France (2012)


I am currently engaged in the curricular development and teaching of our Design, Innovation and Society (DIS) major––the world's only design program based in a Science and Technology Studies department and taught largely by social scientists and humanists. 95% of our students are dual majors with another degree, the majority being Mechanical Engineering, but also Electrical Engineering, Business & Management, and others. Teaching these students is an experience like no other: they are  bright, motivated, fascinated by technology and design but willing to be critical and reflexive about their part in the development process.


Awards & Honors
  • 2024: School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Curricular Development Award
  • 2023: Rensselaer Trustees’ Celebration of Faculty Achievement
  • 2023: Elected Honorary Member of the Phalanx Honors Society
  • 2021: School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Exceptional Service Award
  • 2019: Rensselaer Trustees’ Celebration of Faculty Achievement


The following is a selection of recent publications in Scopus. Raquel Velho has 6 indexed publications in the subjects of Social Sciences, Multidisciplinary, Engineering.

View All Scopus Publications

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