Master of Arts in

Bioethics & Science Policy

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Master of Arts in Bioethics & Science Policy Capstone Project

The capstone project is designed to demonstrate that a student has acquired extensive knowledge of current thinking in bioethics and science policy; has collected, synthesized, reported and critically reflected on these issues; and has developed competence in scholarly writing and procedures.

“The biggest attraction to this program was the practicum opportunity. You are given the responsibility to find this practicum opportunity on your own and there are absolutely no limits. So I really took that and I ran with it. I thought to myself if I can go anywhere and if I can work on anything what would it be. You are really encouraged to dream big here. That’s what Duke Science & Society really encourages you to do. I had the chance to go all the way to Indonesia for my graduate practicum and work with a child protection non-profit. That experience absolutely changed my life. I wouldn’t have had that if I didn’t come to this program.”

Rimsha Afzal PortraitRimsha Afzal, MA Class of 2019

Capstone projects can be either:

  • A research paper focusing on a specific subject in bioethics or science policy, including the history and analysis of modern issues related to the subject (view details about the thesis requirement and submission process), or
  • A summer project — a field placement to gain practical experience, with a written report analyzing the experience and integrating concepts learned in the program

Note: Joint JD/MA students generally complete the capstone project during the summer. International students may need additional approvals from Duke Visa Services before beginning a capstone project.


A Quick Look at Current and Past Summer Capstone Projects

Matt Martin is working with the Technology Transfer Center at the National Cancer Institute, where he is examining NIH’s ethics guidelines and conflict of interest policies to determine the entrepreneurial/startup activities permitted for intramural researchers.

Sharan Sawlani is working with Google to understand developing global accessibility regulations that may impact digital products and navigation, and identify opportunities for Google to engage with key policy stakeholders to build trust and inform developing accessibility regulations.

Victoria Matthews is collaborating with Sony to provide expertise in AI Ethics – specifically Fairness, Transparency, and Accountability (FTA) by working as a Policy intern on this AI Ethics team.

Benjamin Spencer is working with the National Institutes of Health to conduct research on any rules and regulations, at the state and university level, that affect the usage of wards of the state in human research. His research will likely be consolidated into two papers.

Pranathi Rao is working with Google to map key global regulations in the sector of AI and health that could impact Google products and research.

Amal Dadi is working with the Dogwood Alliance, an Asheville-based non-profit working to end industrial logging and promote sustainable forest management in the South. His research project focuses on climate, forests, and policy. This is a Stanback Fellowship offered in partnership with the Nicholas School.

Kayla Swan is working with the law firm Wyrick Robbins/Brooks Pierce on legal assignments relevant to technology, bioethics, and science policy.

Kristi Boyd is working with Truveta. She will develop a paper on ethical data practices, create a self-certification process for Truveta’s product teams, and potentially collaborate on AI projects.

Ben Sarbey is shadowing Dr. Galanos and the palliative care team at Duke University Hospital on their rounds with patients in the palliative care unit. He will focus in particular on elements involved in dying well as well as grief/bereavement support provided to families after the death of a loved one.

Ava Parisi is working with Affirm, a fintech/financial services company, to research financial inclusion and digital financial literacy (DFL) in the fintech space.

Nora Mayer is working with Google to map global policy trends in AI to better inform her host supervisor on AI policies beyond just those exclusive to the United States and Europe.

Khairunnisa Mentari Semesta is working with Amgen at the intersection of science and business within their Commercial Data & Analytics (CD&A) organization. She will be collaborating on Competitive Intelligence, Forecasting, Primary Market Research, and Secondary Analytics.

Cameron Fox worked with the World Economic Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Fransisco on a project to prepare emerging economies for the impact precision medicine will have on health policy, utilizing Rwanda as a model project.

Kellilyn Arnold worked with the Defense Veterans Brain Injury Center at Fort Bragg, NC on a project to improve the care of service members who sustain mild to severe traumatic brain injury (“TBI”). Specifically, she will be undertaking a project to assess the efficacy of a serum assay used to evaluate mild TBI. In addition, she will be working on how the recently modified Common Rule, which governs the conduct of clinic research by government agencies, applies to the military.

Sage Gustafson undertook a landscape summary of state and regional science communication organizations to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the different organizations and to better understand the policy and organizational models that are supporting science communicators.

Rishita Yeduri worked with the Global Women’s Health Technologies project at Duke Engineering School to evaluate the policy and ethical implications of a portable device (“the Pocket Colposcope”) used to screen for cervical cancer in women in rural populations and underdeveloped countries, who do not have access to the current clinic-based diagnostic technology.

Niko Porter completed a project on the use of DNA and familial DNA databases as a tool of Latin American migration policy, which will include working with the Bode Technologies forensics laboratory in Lorton, Virginia and the International Commission for Missing persons in The Hague, Netherlands.