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, Apr 27

Students In The DukeEngage In DC Program Explore Where Science Fits In Policy

Priorities continue to shift for science at the federal level – including funding cuts, controversial appointments, and changes in leadership. As the new program director of DukeEngage in Washington program, I am excited to engage undergraduate students at the intersection of science and public policy

On March 22, 40,000 people participated in the March for Science in Washington DC, and thousands more participated in sister marches throughout the world, including in Antarctica and at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

The next four years present an unprecedented learning opportunity for students, both in understanding the political influence on science and policy, and assessing the strength of the institutions to support scientific research and endeavor. In addition, we are likely to see changes in the strategy of organizations that utilize science to buttress their policy aimss.


At Science & Society, I am in the midst of taking over the enormity of the work of DukeEngage in Washington’s previous project director, Bob Cook-Deegan, now affiliated with Arizona State University.

The previous iteration of the program focused primarily on genome policy; this summer’s program will span conservation, energy, health, and social policy. Through diverse internship programs, our students will be able to better understand how science plays a role in policy making – whether in the federal government, industry, or local and state government.

Students will explore where science fits in the policy process; how policy makers find out about the science related to important issues; whether scientific innovation is ignored or undiscovered; how institutions changing their strategies to work with the new structure in Washington; and what informs the choices of our policy makers.


I am fascinated with the influence of science on policy and vice versa. I hope to bring that passion to DukeEngage students this summer. Engaging these students in the science policy discourse in the nation’s capital will push them to think broadly; to question the ethics and decision-making in science and policy; and will inform their learning experiences and those of their classmates when they return to Duke in the fall.

Learn more about DukeEngage.

thomas-williamsThomas Williams is a faculty member of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society’s Masters in Bioethics and Science Policy and a Senior Lecturing Fellow at Duke Law School.

Wed, Apr 26

Twelve Students Receive Grants to Take Their Bass Connections Research Further

Two Duke graduate students, three undergraduates and two groups of undergrads will pursue faculty-mentored research projects this summer and next year with grant funding from Bass Connections.

Read the full article

Mon, Apr 17

Better Biotech through Science Policy

In this interview, Rosa Castro, PhD and recent graduate from the Duke Master of Arts in Bioethics & Science Policy program, discusses her transition from patent law to ethics and policy in the field of biotechnology. Rosa is currently the managing editor for the Journal of Law & the Biosciences, and has most recently been hired as a postdoctoral associate at Duke University.

Read the Full Interview on SciPol

Thu, Apr 13

Saving Syrian Children

Reflections from a Duke pediatrician on how the refugee crisis has shaped her practice and her consideration of border policy. Dr. Emily Esmaili is a pediatrician and graduate from Duke’s Bioethics & Science Policy Masters program.

Read the Full Article

Tue, Apr 11

SciPol Perspective: Understanding the Proposed NIH Budget Cuts

In this perspective, Duke University Bioethics & Science Policy Masters student Daniel Feingold discusses his take on the proposed #NIH budget cuts.

The Trump budget proposal for 2018 includes a plan to cut the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget by $5.8 billion, an 18-percent decrease in funding from the $34.1 billion allotted for 2017. The proposal has been criticized from both sides of the aisle. The NIH budget is usually a non-controversial area because of the broad support that biomedical research receives, but this consensus appears to be changing with the new administration…

Read Full Perspective at SciPol

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