2017 Archive

Salon XI – Whose Genomes Matter?
Genomics-Research Diversity in Context


Even as genomics technologies become more powerful, their focus remains heavily on individuals of European descent – a disparity with deep historical and cultural roots.  This session will discuss scientific and philosophical issues that relate to the under-representation of minority populations in genomics research, with a particular focus on recruitment and population genetics in the context of historical and modern-day eugenics. What concepts of genetics, race, and identity contributed to the development of past eugenic ideologies? How do the shadow of eugenics and the historic underrepresentation of certain populations continue to affect the practice of genetics and biomedicine today?

Salon XII – The Next Four Years:
Science and Environmental Policy Under the Trump Administration


The inauguration of Donald Trump promises large changes in science and environmental policy. This special session of the Genomics Salon invites four speakers to address how science and environmental policy priorities are set at the local and national level, and to ask how scientists can participate in policy-making and advocacy.
Scott Spencer, a graduate student at the Evans School, studies science policy; Sarah Myhre, a postdoc in oceanology, writes about the role of climate scientists in speaking to the public; Susanna Priest, editor of Science Communication, has recently finished a book on communicating climate change.

Salon XIII – Science and Responsibility


The pace of scientific and technological progress can be bewildering. Recent developments in diverse fields such as genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, and renewable energy highlight the possibility of conflict between scientific research and public opinion. In this session, we will discuss the role of scientists in advancing and/or regulating scientific research and innovation, especially when this research may “run ahead” of public understanding or comfort. What factors should influence the development of a field, and who should be involved in evaluating them? Furthermore, in a rapidly evolving field, is it possible to effectively evaluate, let alone regulate, future applications?

Salon XIV – CSI Genomics


Genomic technologies have become powerful tools in criminal court, with DNA sequencing routinely used to identify or exonerate suspects, but the role of scientific evidence in court is not always straightforward. This session will explore how science and law intersect in the form of forensic genetic technologies. What is the role of scientists as expert witnesses, and how is scientific uncertainty interpreted in a legal context? How does the nature of evidence change when genetic methods move from a research to legal context?

Salon XV – Genomics, Representation, and Equity


Recent large-scale initiatives in genome sequencing have aimed to expand genomic analysis to diverse global populations. With more data, the thinking goes, the genomic medicine can cover and benefit historically underrepresented groups. This session will examine issues of representation and equity in genomic medicine. Who benefits from the “mining” of genomic data? Does this turn in genomic medicine mark a new age in global health, or a new wave of colonialism?

Salon XVI – Science Communication in the Age of Social Media


Twitter, facebook, youtube and reddit – more ways than ever to communicate your science, and also more ways to get trolled, ignored and echo-chambered. How successfully are scientists navigating these new and potentially treacherous waters?

Salon XVII – Science Communication:
Life on the Front Lines
(panel discussion)

This special session of the Genomics Salon invites speakers to address how science is and should be communicated to the public, with an emphasis on written media, and asks how scientists can get involved. Jennifer McCreight, a recent Genome Sciences graduate, has blogged as The Blag Hag and at The Jenome. Michelle Ma is the assistant director of UW Office of News and Information. Sabrina Richards is a science news writer at the Fred Hutch.

Salon XVIII – Translating Infectious-Disease Research into Public Policy
(cancelled due to speaker illness)

Salon XIX – Science Advocacy


Scientists are in the news and taking to the streets. Should we lean into this politicization or resist it? Where does science communication end and advocacy begin? And what would society look like if science advocates achieved their goals?

Salon XX – Movie Night:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks


Join us for a screening of the new HBO movie, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” This movie explores the true story of Henrietta Lacks, a woman whose cancer cells were used by researchers, without her consent, to conduct life-saving research.

Salon XXI – Heteronormativity in STEM


Heteronormativity – the belief that people fall into one of two distinct genders, with complementary roles in life and intimate relationships – is often at odds with scientific research of animals, particularly humans. For many LGBTQ people working in STEM, a perceived heteronormative culture encourages them to hide their orientation and/or gender identity from their coworkers, fearing backlash or isolation. In the framework of Darwinian evolution, is heteronormativity a logical conclusion? Can homosexuality be considered adaptive or non-pathogenic? And how does such thinking subconsciously influence both hypothesis generation and interactions with queer colleagues? In this salon, we will discuss both the science of homosexuality and gender, and the cultural issues that many LGBTQ people in STEM experience.

Salon XXII: Science Education


Education is essential for the progress of science, yet considerations as to how we educate future scientists often go overlooked. In this salon, we’ll examine choices in science education policy, pedagogy, and curriculum. How do these decisions impact how science is carried out, who becomes a scientist, and the broader relationships between science and society?

Salon XXIII: Science and Art

Handout, images, and descriptions

Science and art may seem like distinct pursuits, but they have always informed and inspired one another. Art can show us the beating heart of science–and pose difficult questions about science and society. In this salon, we will explore the various ways in which art and science interact and discuss different works of art. How does training in the arts enrich a career in science? What are some of the benefits of a strong relationship between science and art? When does it make sense to separate the two practices? We will be joined by guests with direct experience at the interface of science and art.

Salon XXIV: Metaphors in Science


Metaphors shape the way we speak, think, and act. While some metaphors of the genome are well-known — e.g., blueprint, map, book of life — metaphorical language works in subtler ways to shape the communication and consumption of genomics and other sciences. Join us for a discussion of metaphors in scientific and public communication about genes, whole-genome sequencing, CRISPR, and the practice of science itself.

Salon XXV: Technology and the Creation of SciFi Societies


Science fiction is often a vehicle for social critique and satire. It features worlds made possible through technological advances. Join us for a discussion of how the technology in science fiction enables the creation of dystopian and utopian worlds. Does technology change who we are, or is it a reflection of who we are? How does science fiction reflect our feelings on technological advancement, and how does it use technology as a tool to explore the human condition?

Salon XXVI: Parenting in Science


Becoming a parent is a notoriously daunting prospect for many graduate students and postdocs in science. Join us for a discussion of how academic culture and policies can affect parenting and family planning decisions. How can being a parent change your perspective on your career and science, and how can being a scientist contribute to your life as a parent?

Salon XXVII: Movie Night:
First in Human

Have you ever wondered how research is translated from the bench into medical therapies? Or have you pondered the ethical dilemmas scientists face when performing experimental medicine on patients? If so, then join us to watch the first part of the Discovery Channel medical documentary series, First in Human. First in Human explores different patient cases inside NIH Building 10, where experimental clinical trials are performed in the hopes of creating new medical therapies.

Salon XXVIII: Health Disparities and the Limits of Genomics


Fifteen years ago, Arno Motulsky, a prominent genome scientist at UW, pointed out that it is “morally wrong” to claim knowing the genome will reduce health disparities. Around that time, public interest in health disparities were on the rise, while advances from the Human Genome Project were starting to be realized. Despite the moral warning, a strong discourse has developed among genome scientists that their tools can reduce health disparities– a claim that, we will argue, remains erroneous. In this session, we will describe the results of a critical discourse analysis that examined claims for genomics and health disparities, compared against what is known from social determinants of health literature, and genome science and epidemiology literature, highlight assumptions and areas of confusion, and consider why it is so important to get it right.

Salon XXIX: Science and the Philosophy of Language


In the modern academy, science and philosophy have drifted apart, with scientists like Stephen Hawking and Neil deGrasse Tyson dismissing the value of philosophy altogether. But this was not always the case. Science and philosophy used to have a close friendship, and scientists like Pascal and Einstein studied and even published philosophical works. This salon will explore what philosophy offers to scientists, focusing on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophy of language. How do scientists use words in different settings to convey different forms of meaning?