Scientists and engineers have increasingly complex responsibilities in designing technologies that shape – and are shaped by - global societies. This is especially true for designers of biological systems, in which innovations offers not only new ways to feed, fuel, heal, and make, but they also open up complex vulnerabilities and understandings of the living world and our roles within it. How can we prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers to evaluate the impact of their decisions on society, empower them to explore their concerns, and enable them to work with others to alter the course of development?
I will share several ongoing experiments to understand what motivates and enables scientists and engineers to consider how to advance their work to serve diverse—and sometimes conflicting—public interests and values. These experiments leverage several testbeds in the field of synthetic biology, including multi-university research programs and an international student competition. I will also share theoretical work on how novel technologies can drive reconfigurations in our approaches to governance through changes in both policies and technologies. Lastly I will describe the benefits of bringing together multiple disciplinary perspectives in learning how we can design biology from the molecular to the social scale, and back again.
Dr. Megan J. Palmer is the Executive Director of Bio Policy & Leadership Initiatives at Stanford University. In this role, Dr. Palmer leads integrated research, teaching and engagement programs to explore how biological science and engineering is shaping our societies, and to guide innovation to serve public interests. Based in the Department of Bioengineering, where she is also an Adjunct Professor, she works closely both with groups across the university and with stakeholders in academia, government, industry and civil society around the world.
For details of her research and recent publication, please visit HERE
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