Dr Michael Gastrow is a director in the HSRC's Impact Centre. He holds a PhD in media studies from the University of Stellenbosch (2015). Gastrow specialises in the study of science, technology, and society, including aspects of science communication, the public understanding of science, innovation systems, and science policy.
Gastrow was formerly a chief research specialist in the HSRC's Education and Skills Development research programme, a position which he held from 2016 to 2020. He has been the Principal Investigator of a range of research projects at the science/society interface. Recent examples include the SA-EU Strategic Partnership Dialogue on Disruptive technologies and public policy in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Funded by the EU Delegation to South Africa, 2018-2020), HSRC support for the development of the DST's Fourth Industrial Revolution Science, Technology and Innovation plan of action (Funded by the Department of Science and Innovation, 2018-2019), The SKA telescope and human development (Funded by the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development, 2016-2018), Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for Biosafety South Africa's Communication Strategy (Funded by Biosafety South Africa, 2017?2018), and Public Perceptions of Biotechnology in South Africa (Funded by the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement, 2015-2018).
Before joining the HSRC, Gastrow spent two years as an industrial development facilitator at B&M Analysts, with a focus on the clothing, textiles, and automotive sectors. He is a former member of the Presidential Advisory Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. He is a Professor of Practice at the DST/NRF/Newton Fund Trilateral Research Chair in Transformative Innovation, the 4th Industrial Revolution and Sustainable Development, at the University of Johannesburg, as well as a Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology at the University of Stellenbosch. During the past decade, he has mostly conducted his research in the area of science policy, with a specific focus on large-scale science infrastructure and its impact on human development.
Gastrow is a National Research Foundation-rated researcher. He has published 26 scientific articles in local and international peer-reviewed academic journals, as well as six book chapters. He is the author of The Stars in Our Eyes: representations of the Square Kilometre Array telescope in the South African media (HSRC Press, 2017), and the co-author of Linking universities and marginalised communities (HSRC Press, 2015), as well as Human rights and the fourth industrial revolution in South Africa (HSRC Press, 2021). He was a co-editor of Capability Building and Global Innovation Networks (Taylor & Francis, 2015).