Lecture series abstracts

Putting science in its place: Neuroscience and neuroethics

Stephanie J. Bird, former Vice President for Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The roots of the fundamental ethical principles of research ethics lie in the observation that science is a part of society, not apart from it. The ethical standards and professional responsibility of researchers reflect the expectations of peers, colleagues and students, and also the expectations of society, whether informed and reasonable or not. To some degree, these expectations need to be recognized, acknowledged and addressed. Among the professional responsibilities of researchers is participation in an explicit, recurring discussion of the contributions and impacts of their work on society. The array of issues that compose the field of neuroethics illustrates the way that ethical concerns are interwoven into the practice of neuroscience and the application of neuroscience research findings. Researchers need to be proactive in opposing the misuse and abuse of their science, in disseminating solid and established findings, and in resisting the premature promotion of encouraging, but nascent, research results.

Dr. Stephanie J. Bird is a laboratory-trained neuroscientist whose professional interests are two-fold: the ethical, legal and social policy implications of scientific research, especially neuroscience; and education in the responsible conduct of research and the professional responsibilities of scientists and engineers. As an independent consultant, she works with institutions of higher learning, professional societies, government agencies, and law firms in the United States and other countries. In addition, Dr. Bird is Editor-in-Chief of Science and Engineering Ethics, an international publication that has been cited by the National Academies as a leading resource for scholarly articles on research integrity. 

Formerly Dr. Bird was Special Assistant to the Provost and Vice President for Research of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she worked on the development of educational programs that address ethical issues in research. She also taught in her areas of expertise, including both courses in the responsible conduct of research and those that consider the ethical and social policy implications of science and technology. She has written numerous articles on neuroethics and on issues in the responsible conduct of research, including mentoring and other responsibilities of science and engineering professionals.  

Dr. Bird is an active member of several professional associations in science and ethics, including the Society for Neuroscience, the International Neuroethics Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), where she serves as a Fellow and Secretary of the Societal Impacts of Science and Engineering Section. In 1983, she initiated the annual Society for Neuroscience Social Issues Roundtable, which examines ethical and policy ramifications of various aspects of neuroscience research.

'68: how far have we come? black history 101 mobile museum special exhibit

The newest exhibit titled ’68 from the award-winning archive of the Black History 101 Mobile Museum features more than 150 original artifacts of memorabilia focusing on the major events and personalities of 1968 on the 50th anniversary year of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. In addition to M.L.K. memorabilia (including a document signed by him), there is material from John Carlos and Tommie Smith (‘68 Olympics), Aretha Franklin, James Brown, The Jackson 5, Sly and the Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, Arthur Ashe, Muhammad Ali, The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Shirley Chisholm, The Last Poets, The Black Panthers, and many others. Historical context leading up to '68 is built with rare material from the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the Jim Crow era.  

Exhibit-related events

“The Truth Hurts: Black History, Honesty, and Healing the Racial Divide”

Khalid el-Hakim, curator, Black History 101 Mobile Museum

This talk will center on the development of the Black History 101 Mobile Museum with a focus on the current exhibit ’68: How Far Have We Come? Using original artifacts from the exhibit, el-Hakim will make present-day connections with the past by inviting the audience to engage in an honest dialogue about the impact of racism and the struggle for social justice in America. The Black History 101 Mobile Museum is a collection of more than 7,000 original artifacts of Black memorabilia dating from the trans-Atlantic slave trade era to contemporary hip-hop culture.

Khalid el-Hakim is the founder and curator of the Black History 101 Mobile Museum, a collection of more than 7,000 original artifacts of Black memorabilia dating from the trans-Atlantic slave trade era to contemporary hip-hop culture. El-Hakim has been called the "Schomburg of the Hip-Hop generation" because of his passionate commitment to carrying on the rich tradition of the Black Museum Movement. He has received national and international attention for his innovative work of exhibiting Black history outside of traditional museum spaces. Most recently, el-Hakim was named one of the 100 Men of Distinction for 2017 by the highly respected business magazine Black Enterprise.

The Black History 101 Mobile Museum has exhibited in 29 states at more than 300 institutions, including colleges and universities, K-12 schools, corporations, libraries, conferences, and cultural events, making it one of the most sought-after exhibits of its kind in the United States. In 2013, el-Hakim published The Center of the Movement: Collecting Hip Hop Memorabilia, a groundbreaking book on the material artifacts of hip-hop culture. El-Hakim has also worked for more than 20 years in the hip hop industry as a manager and booking agent for artists such as The Last Poets, Proof of D12, Jessica Care Moore, 5 ELA, 3rd Eye Open Poetry Collective, Professor Griff of Public Enemy, and Jamaal "Versiz" May.  El-Hakim taught social studies in Detroit for 15 years and is currently a doctoral student in the College of Education at the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana).

“ ‘68: How Far Have We Come?” Black History 101 Mobile Museum exhibit follow-up discussion

Following Khalid el-Hakim's Black History 101 Mobile Museum at the Richmond Center on Sept. 25 and 26, participants are invited to join the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and additional campus partners working toward racial justice and equity to share reactions and generate ideas for creating social change.

invisible salt and urban dead seas: who is responsible?

Carla Koretsky, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Western Michigan University

The use of road salt deicers has skyrocketed in recent decades. Although these deicers make roads safer, they have significant impacts on natural systems. For example, they may cause damage to vegetation, salinization of drinking water supplies, and corrosion of steel structures. In the Midwest, most natural lakes fully mix twice a year, in both spring and fall. This mixing delivers oxygen to the deep waters of the hypolimnion, which is especially important in lakes impacted by algal blooms resulting from excessive nutrient inputs. There is mounting evidence that large inputs of road salt deicer may impede lake mixing, leading to permanent hypoxia or anoxia at depth. Road salts have had a significant impact on the biogeochemistry and physical function of at least two urban lakes located in Kalamazoo: Woods Lake and Asylum Lake. We will explore, not only how these changes have happened, but why, including who is ultimately responsible and how future impacts might be mitigated.

Dr. Carla Koretsky is a past dean of the WMU Lee Honors College and a professor in both the Geological and Environmental Sciences department and Institute of the Environmental & Sustainability. She received her Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Johns Hopkins University in 1998 and her B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis, where she graduated cum laude with an Earth and Planetary Sciences major and minors in Economics and Music Performance (Violin) in 1992.

Dr. Koretsky is an expert in the fields of aqueous geochemistry and biogeochemistry. She and her students conduct field, laboratory and computer modeling studies to investigate the chemistry of wetlands and lakes, with a particular interest in better understanding the interactions of contaminants with natural waters, sediments and soils. She is past editor-in-chief of the international journals Chemical Geology and Geochemical Transactions. Her research has been supported by more than $1 million in funding from agencies including the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the American Chemical Society, the Office of Naval Research and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Dr. Koretsky has authored or coauthored more than 75 abstracts, journal articles and book chapters. She is an NSF CAREER grant recipient, and has received the Geochemical Society Distinguished Service Award.

integrating research ethics into the high school science classroom


Susan Stapleton, dean of the Graduate College, Western Michigan University


Cheryl A. Dickson, Associate Dean for Health Equity and Community Affairs at WMU Homer Styker School of Medicine

Carrie Ferrario, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology, The University of Michigan Medical School

Luke Perry, STEM Education Director, Battle Creek Area Math & Science Center

Michael Tanoff, Director of the Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center.

Education in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math – has long been a national priority because of the importance of these fields to innovation, global competitiveness, national security, public policy, and vital professions such as medicine. Even students who will not go on to be scientists or engineers benefit from learning the problem-solving and analytical thinking skills associated with these disciplines. Along with the increasing attention to science education as part of STEM has come increasing attention from federal agencies to research ethics; that is, the moral considerations involved in funding, designing, conducting and reporting scientific studies. These include such considerations as informed consent for human research subjects and conflicts of interest caused by partnerships between university scientists and private corporations.

Indeed, there have been a number of scandals in science caused by ethical lapses. Nevertheless, science education in high school – when potential scientists are first being socialized into their profession – tends to focus on the technical aspects of scientific competence when teaching students about “good” science. For example, the Next Generation Science Standards for K-12 education explicitly address technical competencies only. Can science be “good” if it is not also ethical? This panel brings together science educators from area STEM academies and medical schools to discuss the place of explicit research ethics instruction in high school science classes and the degree to which such instruction might foster ethical STEM cultures in high school and beyond.

Dr. Susan Stapleton received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Juniata College and her doctoral degree in chemistry from Miami University. She completed post-doctoral work at the University of Wisconsin, Case Western Reserve University and the University of Iowa. Dr. Stapleton holds a joint appointment as professor of both chemistry and biological sciences and has been a faculty member at WMU since 1989.

From 1997 to 2012 she served as associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences before accepting the role of graduate dean. In 2017-2018, she also served as interim provost.  An internationally recognized scientist, Dr. Stapleton has a long history of research funded by the nation's top health science organizations. Dr. Stapleton's expertise is in the area of understanding the regulation of carbohydrate and fatty acid metabolism, including the relationship to metabolic disorders such as diabetes. In her work, she has served as mentor to scores of high school, undergraduate and graduate students. She has also been extensively involved in the study of ethics in science, science education and curriculum reform and building professional development opportunities to improve teaching.  

Her expertise and professional input is continually sought, as she has served on review panels for various federal and private funding agencies as well as a reviewer or editorial board member for professional journals. Her recent accolades include the Michigan Society for Medical Research’s Educational Leadership Award in 2007; in 2010-11 she served as an American Council on Education Fellow.

Dr. Cheryl Dickson is an Associate Dean for the Health Equity and Community Affairs Department in the Office the Dean at the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine (WMed). In that capacity, she leads WMed’s Summer Pipeline Program. The program encourages underrepresented minorities and disadvantaged high school students from Kalamazoo Public Schools and the surrounding area to pursue biomedical science and health careers. Dickson is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. She is Board Certified in Pediatric Emergency Medicine. She is a graduate of Brown University with a B.A. in Human Biology (with Honors) in 1976. She earned her M.D. from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey - New Jersey Medical School in 1980. She completed her Residency in Pediatrics also at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey - New Jersey Medical School and Children's Hospital of New Jersey in 1983. She went on to do her Fellowship in Adolescent Medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey - New Jersey Medical School and Children's Hospital of New Jersey in 1984.

Dr. Carrie Ferrario, Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan Medical School, received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 2006 from the University of Michigan, where she examined the neurobiological and behavioral basis of drug addiction. Her current work, funded by the National Institutes of Health, addresses potential similarities and differences between over-consumption of food vs. addictive drugs. Since establishing her lab in 2012, she has received a NARSAD Young Investigator Award from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, and the Early Career Independent Investigator Award from the ASPET Division for Neuropharmacology. In addition Dr. Ferrario is an external member of the Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center, an Associate Member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, and a member of the University of Michigan Neuroscience Graduate Program, the National Hispanic Science Network, and the Michigan Diabetes Research Center.

Luke Perry has been the director of the Battle Creek Area Mathematics and Science Center (BAMSC) since 2013. BAMSC provides curriculum and professional development for K-12 STEM students and teachers in the Barry, Branch, and Calhoun County school districts and the state of Michigan. It also provides an accelerated mathematics and science high school program for advanced students that establishes trust as a pillar of their education with a code of ethics calling for students to treat others with kindness, consideration, and respect. Perry was previously principal of Northwestern STEM Middle School and W. K. Kellogg Middle School in the Battle Creek Public Schools District.

Dr. Michael Tanoff has been the director of the Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center (KAMSC) since 2011. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Rutgers University and a Ph.D. in engineering and applied science from Yale University. His research career in the field of computational combustion involved the development of computer models for understanding and predicting pollutant formation, fire extinguishment, solid propellant combustion, flame structure, and ignition phenomena. Dr. Tanoff’s industrial experience included an engineering position in the process simulation and control area for the Exxon Corporation (now ExxonMobil) and a senior research managerial position for the Kellogg Company.

Dr. Tanoff taught mathematics and physics for nine years at Kalamazoo College, where he developed a concept- and lab-based introductory physics program, directed the 3-2 engineering program, co-advised student mathematics teams, and served as co-director for a National Science Foundation-sponsored program for attracting students from underrepresented groups to the sciences and mathematics. He sits on the Advisory Board for the Lee Honors College of Western Michigan University. He is the author of numerous journal articles and technical presentations.

Plato's dialogues of definition: what is socrates looking for?

Justin C. Clark, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, Hamilton College

During his examination of the virtues in Plato's early ethical dialogues, Socrates often raises questions of the form 'What is F?'  In raising the ‘What-is-F?’ question, however, commentators disagree about whether Socrates is asking a conceptual question (about the meaning of a virtue-term ‘F’) or a causal question (about how F fits into the causal network of the world).  I argue that the contexts surrounding Socrates’ two most prominent examples of adequate answers will confirm that the ‘What-is-F?’ question is a conceptual question in the Meno and Euthyphro, but a causal question in the Laches and Protagoras.  In other words, the ‘What-is-F?’ question has a dual-function. Socrates consistently employs two separate vocabularies in connection with these two types of questions.  By outlining their vocabularies, and by examining other important contextual signals, I pave the way for readers to distinguish between conceptual and causal investigation in Plato's ‘dialogues of definition,’ which is essential to understanding the Socratic theory of virtue.

Dr. Justin C. Clark was previously a lecturer at Utah State University and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). His areas of specialization are Ancient Philosophy and Ethics.  He has been concentrating on ancient theories of virtue, as well as various problems in moral psychology. His dissertation focused on the theory of virtue in early Plato, and the moral psychology of Plato’s “dialogues of definition.”  In addition to classes related to his research interests, Dr. Clark has taught logic, environmental ethics, medieval philosophy, early modern philosophy, and the philosophy of religion.