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.

Thu, Jun 15

Can the Law Enforcement’s DNA Database Tell Police Your Medical Info?


A new study may undermine the argument that taking DNA samples from people arrested for serious crimes is not considered an unreasonable search. With comments from S&S instructor and Duke researcher Sara Katsanis.

Read the full article at Pacific Standard Magazine

Mon, Jun 12

SciPol for the Long Haul – Contributing to National Science Policy


During their two months in Washington, students will serve with a governmental agency or body, a non-governmental organization, a nonprofit, or a lobbying organization where they will assist with the analysis of policy questions, formulation of policy options, or making of policy choices at a national level regarding science policy.

Read the full article at

Wed, May 31

Journal of Law and the Biosciences, Volume 4, Issue 1, Now Available Online

The Journal of Law and the Biosciences (JLB) is the first fully open access, peer-reviewed, legal journal focused on the advances at the intersection of law and the biosciences.

In this Issue

  • Promoting healthcare innovation on the demand side
  • Mitochondrial replacement techniques and Mexico’s rule of law: on the legality of the first maternal spindle transfer case
  • Reflecting the ‘human nature’ of IVF embryos: disappearing women in ethics, law, and fertility practice
  • Clinical genomics, big data, and electronic medical records: reconciling patient rights with research when privacy and science collide
  • and more…

View all original articles, peer commentary, and new developments in Volume 4, Issue 1 Free Online


Wed, May 24

No registration required: Federal appeals court cancels drone registration rule

In December 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released the so-called Registration Rule, requiring hobbyists to register their recreational drones with the agency. Last Friday, the US Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, determined that the FAA’s Registration Rule is unlawful as it applies to model aircraft.

Dr. Michael Clamann, SciPol’s lead editor on Robotics & AI, covers the story and the public reaction to the change over at


Mon, May 22

Moogfest Engages The Public On The Future Of Self-Driving Cars

Since 2004, Moogfest has brought together artists, thinkers, entrepreneurs, and researchers in an effort to grow a global community of futurists with eyes on changing the world.

Amidst the electronic music permeating the event, are workshops on protests and how to effectively intervene in public spaces; hacks, how-to’s, and maker sessions; and Pub Talks that explore some of the science driving innovation.

Duke research explores how pedestrians interact with autonomous vehicles.

Pub talks are an opportunity for researchers and scientists to leave their campus labs or offices and share their cutting-edge research with the public. These talks are accompanied by discussions where the audience can explore the science and the myriad social, ethical, and political implications involved.

The events bring science to life in a way that news and journal articles can’t. Duke University takes pride in fostering this two-way flow of information and considers it integral to the development and dissemination of good science and sound policy.

During one Pub Talk, Dr. Michael Clamann, Duke Robotics senior researcher and SciPol’s Robotics & AI lead editor, gave an interactive presentation on autonomous cars before opening the floor to attendees to voice their concerns over this burgeoning technology.

“The tech-savvy crowd asked insightful questions about morality, income inequality, technology and environmental issues,” says Dr. Clamann. “It was great to see so many people at Moogfest interested in this topic.”

The conversation included a summary of some of the technological, social and political obstacles that will need to be overcome before self-driving vehicles arrive at your local dealership.

For details on this Pub Talk and more, check out these Moogfest Day Three Highlights over at exitevent.

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