MHC's Sistahs in Science Host Ethics Series

Posted: November 11, 2008

Among its ambitious programs for the 2008-2009 year, Mount Holyoke's Sistahs in Science (SIS) is sponsoring an ethics in science series this fall. The Sistahs in Science Ethics Series hopes to raise awareness and generate discussion of social issues raised by scientific advances. With assistance from faculty advisors Sheila Browne, Bertha Phillips Rodger Professor of Chemistry, and Janice Hudgings, associate professor and chair of physics, SIS promotes and supports the advancement of women pursuing majors and careers in the sciences.

Noting that the College produces more women graduates who go on to earn Ph.D.s in physical and life sciences than any other liberal arts college, SIS chair Yunnan Jiang '09 said, "It is important for these young scientists, including Sistahs members, to be aware of the social and political issues associated with scientific disocovery and to be able to discuss these issues. We believe that Mount Holyoke also produces future leaders of the science community who will be making decisions on ethics issues and influencing other's decisions as well."

Anthropology professor Debbora Battaglia gave the first lecture in the series, "E.T. Diplomacy," November 3. Battaglia discussed how experience in outer space changed the perspectives of astronauts socially and physiologically. She also addressed the danger of military and political exploitation of outer space.

Richard Goldsby, biology professor and John Woodruff Simpson Lecturer at Amherst College, will deliver the series' second lecture, "Stem Cell Technologies: What Can Be Done and What Should Be Done?" November 13 at 4:15 pm in Cleveland L-1. Goldsby is an immunologist and cofounder of Hematech, a biotech company that succeeded in producing cloned transchromosomic cattle that make human antibodies. With his colleagues, he has also written and edited the last three editions of Kuby Immunology, a widely used immunology textbook, and has published numerous scientific articles.

Goldsby's talk is also part of the educational campaign in preparation for the bone marrow drive SIS is organizing with C.A.U.S.E. The campaign also includes an educational session on November 12 from 5 to 6 pm featuring a past donor, a past receiver, and a doctor from Baystate Medical Center who specializes in transfusion medicine. The bone marrow drive will take place November 19 in Chapin Auditorium or by appointment contact contact

MHC anthropology professor Lynn Morgan will present the series' third lecture, "When Does Life Begin? A Cross-Cultural Perspective," on December 4 at 4:15 pm in Cleveland L-1. Human embryo and fetal specimens were once collected in large numbers. Morgan argues that these specimens formed the basis for the contemporary "cultural origin stories" we tell ourselves about how we came to be.

In addition to the ethics series, which will continue in the spring, SIS will host Dr. Gita Bosch, associate dean of Gerstner Sloan-Kettering Graduate School and associate director of graduate studies at Sloan-Kettering Institute, on November 21. Bosch will speak about graduate and professional school admission and career planning for liberal arts students. The talk will take place in Cleveland L-1 from 4 to 6 pm, followed by private dinner with SIS members.

SIS is also planning a Leadership in Science Conference for the spring semester. According to Jiang, the conference will highlight a range of career paths for science students of all disciplines.

Earlier this fall, five SIS members attended a science open house at Vanderbilt University featuring lectures on cutting-edge scientific research, lab visits, and a workshop on graduate school admissions.

Related Link:

Sistahs in Science

Richard Goldsby - Biography