Summer Undergraduate Program in Ethics Research (SUPER), Mayo Clinic:
Description: As a research assistant in Mayo’s biomedical ethics department, I worked on a project to analyze patient perspectives and interests in neuromodulatory devices. I designed surveys meant to look at therapeutic misconception and patient goals, and worked on literature searches.
Supervisors: Dr. Erik St. Louis; Dr. Erin DeMartino
May 2019 – August 2019 (440 hours)
Connection to reverse-engineering the brain: I’m interested in reverse-engineering the brain so that we can use that information to treat psychiatric and neurological disorders. However, if the technology isn’t wanted, it can’t be used. It’s important to learn about what a patient might want in a medical device and take that into account when designing new neuromodulatory products.
Description: As a team member working for the Kenan Institute for Ethics, focusing on writing and community engagement, I wrote blogs and led conversations with my fellow classmates about the intersection of ethics and science.
August 2016 – March 2018 (~150 hours)
Supervisor: Dan Smith
Connection to reverse-engineering the brain: Working at Kenan helped me to learn about the complicated interplay between engineering and ethics. I looked at the complicated issues behind rodent research and gender roles, or passion for a sport and increased risks of concussion, and was able to share ideas with my peers.
Huang Fellows Program Summer Seminar Series:
Description: A series of seminars looking at the intersection of ethics, medicine, science, and public perception, as well as a set of workshops on scientific communication.
Organizer: Dr. Emilia Chiscop-Head
May 31, 2017 – August 4, 2017 (60 hr)
Connection to reverse-engineering the brain: As scientists and engineers, it’s critically important that we consider how our work is communicated to the public – whether that’s to increase engagement, acquire funding, or increase public knowledge and trust in our work. These classes helped me explain the research I was doing on reverse-engineering individual neurons in an engaging and understandable way to audiences of many different knowledge levels, and helped me consider the ethical and political implications of any future work.
Neuroscience 355S – Vision and Perception:
Professor: Dr. Dale Purves
Spring 2019 (90 hr)
Synopsis: This course discussed the difference between how the world truly is, and how we experience it. We looked at perception in the domains of lightness and darkness, geometry, color, and movement, and learned how our experiences truly shape our perception. We also compared this to computer vision, and noticed the differences in understanding gained from each method of vision.
Neuroscience 277 – Looking into the Disordered Brain:
Professor: Dr. Ahmad Hariri
Fall 2019 (90 hr)
Synopsis: This course provided a circuit-level overview of psychiatric disorders. The class focused on main cortical circuits – the corticolimbic, corticostriatal, and corticohippocampal circuits – and discussed the ways in which a perturbation in any one of the critical nodes of the circuit could lead to dysfunction. This connectivity-based perspective is crucial to understanding how the brain is wired on a large scale.
Bioethics 704 / Law 333 – Science, Law, and Policy:
Professor: Dr. Buz Waitzkin
Fall 2019 (90 hr)
Synopsis: This class delved into the relationship between science and the law, looking into how science is regulated, how scientific advancements may affect the law, and how regulation of technologies is often caught up in disputes between the federal and state governments. While the course did not directly touch on neural engineering, it discussed ethical and legal perspectives on multiple types of biotechnology and machine learning, and helped me to think about how these issues would apply to neurotechnologies as well.
Neuroscience 267 / Psychology 278 / Philosophy 353 / Ethics 269 – Neuroethics:
Professors: Dr. Scott Huettel, Dr. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
Spring 2019 (90 hr)
Synopsis: This class focused on emerging ethical controversies concurrent with advances in neuroscience. It built a foundation of basic neuroscience and ethics, and covered biological bases of morality; emotions and decision making; neuroeconomics and neuromarketing; pathologies of mind and behavior; volition and legal culpability, and other topics.
Writing 101 – Mind Mysteries: Introduction to Neuroscience:
Professor: Dr. Emily Parks
Spring 2017 (90 hr)
Connection to reverse-engineering the brain: Through analysis of current peer-reviewed literature in neuroscience as well as pop journalism coverage of these developments, this class provided a wealth of information about how to read and analyze scientific papers, particularly those relating to the brain.
FOCUS: Cognitive Neuroscience and the Law
Linguistics 212 / Public Policy 250 / Science and Society 212 – Law, Ethics, and Responsibility
Professor: Dr. Michael Newcity
Fall 2016 (90 hr)
Connection to reverse-engineering the brain: This class took a look at how mental conditions can lead to changes in how we interact with the world, and what that might mean for criminal law. Much of our legal system is built around potential misunderstandings of the human brain. If we can understand the brain enough to understand what ‘faulty wiring’ can cause conditions such as psychopathy, schizophrenia, or somnambulism, we can turn to a model of justice that seeks to help people fix their brains instead of punishing them for illnesses beyond their control.
Neuroscience 153 / Public Policy 185 / Science and Society 153 – Drugs and the Law
Professor: Dr. Nicole Schramm-Sapyta
Fall 2016 (90 hr)
Connection to reverse-engineering the brain: This class looked at the interactions between drugs and the brain, and how addiction is treated in the legal system. In many cases, conditions like alcoholism or drug addiction are medical conditions that people may be predisposed to by certain environments in their brain. If we can understand how these addictions work, instead of penalizing people for that which is outside of their control, we can help people alter their brains to reduce their likelihood of substance abuse.