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Hicks' research focuses on public scientific controversies, and especially the relationship between the public and experts in environmental policy. Overarching themes in Hicks' research include the role of values in science and environmental justice. Hicks has worked with local food cooperatives, anti-racist organizations, and local environmental organizations.
Uses data from California's Department of Pesticide Registration to examine the demographics of potential exposure to the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos in the Central Valley. Finds that, for each 10 point increase in the percentage of Hispanic residents, there is a seven to eight percent increase in potential chlorpyrifos exposure.
Examines the scientific controversy over the yields of genetically modified crops as a case study in epistemologically deep disagreements. Shows that appeals to "the evidence" are inadequate to resolve such disagreements, because the interlocutors assume rival epistemological frameworks and so have incompatible views about what kinds of research methods and claims count as evidence.
Uses GMOs, vaccines, and climate change as case studies. Shows how "scientific controversies" are often better understood as political controversies.