Ben Shepard
Ben Shepard

Science & Society News

Learn what is happening inside the Duke Initiative for Science & Society. Stay up-to-date on our research, events, and student activities.

Fri, Sep 13

Farahany SLAP Lab: Call for Applications

SLAP Lab (Science, Law, and Policy Lab) is an interdisciplinary laboratory run by Professor Nita Farahany, designed to bring science to bear on questions of law and policy.

Learn more about SLAPLAB

SLAP Lab is currently looking for undergraduates, Master’s students, PhD students, JD or MD candidates, and post-docs to join the Lab for the 2019-2020 academic year. Applicants are encouraged to apply to participate for the mutual benefit of research, publication, and dissemination of work at the intersection of Science, Technology, Law, and Policy. Applicants must be willing to commit to weekly lab meetings and attend meetings on an ongoing basis for research with individual project teams. Applicants with an interest in novel, emerging technologies are encouraged to apply.

Application Process:

Membership is highly selective. Approximately 6-8 applicants are selected annually, from a wide pool of excellent applications. Students may apply in multiple years and/or as lab positions become available throughout the year.

  • Email by September 27th at 5 p.m. with subject “2019-2020 SLAP Lab Application”
  • Send cover letter, one paragraph statement of interest, resume (including GPA), and unofficial undergraduate or graduate transcript
  • Identify existing or new research projects you are interested in undertaking (see SLAP Lab website)
  • Finalists will be invited for an in-person interview that will include a writing exercise

Tue, Aug 13

A Detailed Analysis of the He Jiankui / CRISPR-baby scandal

This article is an effort to provide some deep context for the He Jiankui affair and to begin analyzing it. It focuses on He’s experiment, without delving into the broader ethical issues around ‘human germline genome editing’ in the abstract.

Thu, Aug 01

Facebook is funding brain experiments to create a device that reads your mind

Big tech firms are trying to read people’s thoughts, and no one’s ready for the consequences.

Wed, Jul 17

2018-2019 Bass Connections Project Review: Building an EEG Lab and Gathering Consumer Opinion On Brain Privacy

Our 2018-2019 Bass Connections project team was the most productive collaboration yet. During this time, we trained a new group of undergraduate and graduate students in the process of properly conducting an electroencephalograph (EEG) study, and how to design, collect, and analyze behavioral data from an online participant pool.

Dr. William Krenzer and two lab particpants posing in front of their poster during the 2018 Bass Connections Poster Session

Members of the Bass Connections project team present their data at the 2019 Spring Showcase

Our team began the year investigating the extent to which consumer-based EEG devices can accurately detect fluctuations in attentional and emotional states. Despite early skepticism, initial data gathered shows support for the potential long-term experimental use of these devices. This innovative technique for collecting neurological information will greatly help the project moving forward.

A concurrent study looked into brain data privacy. Students created a questionnaire, collected responses, and analyzed data to further understand the public’s view of their brain information and 3rd party access to their data. The project team drafted the results for a manuscript and prepared the findings in a poster for presentation during the 2019 Spring Bass Connections showcase. The team also hopes to present the data at this year’s International Neuroethics Society annual conference in Chicago this fall.

Dr. William Krenzer’s leadership in organizing the hands-on experience of running participants through the experiment was the highlight of the project.

“Any student that gets to learn from his experiences and through a project run by him should consider themselves wildly lucky,” said one student in an anonymous survey. “I can’t emphasize enough how much he meant to myself and the rest of the program.”

Naturally, such vertically integrated teams see many participants graduating at the end of the year. However, we are very excited for the handful of students who will be continuing with the project during the new academic year. Their experience will provide valuable mentorship opportunity as new students join the team this fall.

We expect our 2019-2020 team’s progress to surpass this year’s as we continue to collect EEG data via these consumer-based devices, with hopes of furthering our understanding of the neurological processes associated with attention and emotion. We anticipate continued commercial growth of this technology and will continue building on our understanding of individual views of brain data privacy and the potential issues that can arise from widespread use.


Dr. William Krenzer, SLAP Lab, Bass Connections

William KrenzerWilliam Krenzer is a Postdoctoral Associate in Science and Society, specifically working in the Science, Law, and Policy (SLAP) Lab. His research within SLAP Lab broadly explores how neuroscience (e.g., EEG) can be used to understand, or better explain, common practices within law.

Wed, Jul 03

Scientists Are Giving Dead Brains New Life. What Could Go Wrong?

In experiments on pig organs, scientists at Yale made a discovery that could someday challenge our understanding of what it means to die.

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