Talia Dan-Cohen's research interests center around the anthropology of knowledge, science and technology studies, social theory and epistemology. Her work has tracked institutional and epistemological aspects of the biosciences and biotech industry.
Her current book project follows two labs that conduct research in synthetic biology, and looks at how research in these labs articulates with entrenched institutional forms. Responding to the tendency of anthropology of emergent stuff to replicate the breathy futurism of purportedly revolutionary domains, the book highlights some of the difficulties involved in making technoscience produce results in registers legible to the more plodding institutional contexts in which such efforts are undertaken.
Her work on synthetic biology has spawned a new project on the notion of "complexity." The premise of the project is that "complexity" is a strange analytic that plays a role in both positivist and poststructural/postmodern discourses. She explores complexity from a number of vantage points, including synthetic biology, feminist science studies, and anthropology. The next phase of this project will involve fieldwork among cancer geneticists. She hopes to grasp something of the way complexity gets caught between ontological and epistemological concerns.