The Philosophy Department is pleased to announce that two undergraduate students have been awarded OSCAR Undergraduate Scholarly Research Project Awards for their work in bioethics and neuroscience. The students are supervised by Professor Andrew Peterson and are incorporated in Mason's Neuroethics Lab, housed in the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy.
Molly Kluck (Cognitive Psychology): "Ethical issues in the use of fMRI to assess human neurodevelopment en utero"
Currently a sophomore in the Psychology Honors program, Molly will be looking at the ethical issues that arise from research that involves the use of fMRI on fetal brains in utero. The way that the human brain develops in utero is still a mystery. fMRI could illuminate some of these mysteries, yet this also raises difficult ethical questions, including: How do we ensure fetuses are not harmed in research? And should the information gleaned from fMRI assessment inform decisions to continue--or terminate--pregnancy?
Joe Defranco (Neuroscience): "An analysis of U.S. national disparities in methods for determination of brain death"
Joe’s interest in brain death started when he wrote a term paper on the different ethical viewpoints of brain death at Grinnell College. When he transferred to George Mason University, he met Philosophy Professor Andrew Peterson and he found out that they shared similar interests regarding the ethical complications after serious brain injuries. Professor Peterson introduced Joe to some notable brain death publications and they have since been working together on examining the wide disparities in the U.S. when determining brain death.