SEPOS faculty engage in a range of projects, including the active ones below

Laura Cabrera is the principal investigator and Robyn Bluhm is a Co-Investigator of the NIH-funded project “Is the Treatment Perceived to be Worse than the Disease?: Ethical Concerns and Attitudes towards Psychiatric Electroceutical Interventions.”

Heather Douglas is a member of the Advisory Board for the Evidence-Based Science Communications with Policymakers Project. This project, funded by the US National Academy of Sciences, aims to systematically study the practice of science communication aimed specifically at the policymaking community, to increase the likelihood that quality scientific findings and advice make their way into the policymaking process.

Heather Douglas is an Associate Director of The Virtual Institute for Responsible Innovation (VIRI). VIRI was created to accelerate the formation of a community of scholars and practitioners who, despite divides in geography and political culture, will create a common concept of responsible innovation for research, training and outreach – and in doing so contribute to the governance of emerging technologies under conditions dominated by high uncertainty, high stakes, and challenging questions of novelty.

Heather Douglas is a contributor to the @Risk project. @Risk is working to identify conceptual frameworks and mechanisms to strengthen Canada’s risk management capacity in situations where expert and lay public assessments of risk differ.  This is a multidisciplinary partnership involving researchers from 11 Canadian and U.S. universities and 4 partner organizations.

Kevin Elliott is a member of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Standing Committee on the Use of Emerging Science for Environmental Health Decisions (ESEHD), which examines and discusses issues on the use of new science, tools, and research methodologies for environmental health decisions.

Kevin Elliott is the Principle Investigator for the NSF funded project “Ethical Standards and Practices of Environmental Scientists: Does Team Diversity Matter.”

Megan Halpern is a committee member for the AAAS Committee on Science and Technology Engagement with the Public (CoSTEP). CoSTEP supports AAAS in its mission to “advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people” and goals related to enhancing communication among scientists, engineers, and the public; providing a voice for science on societal issues; and increasing public engagement with science and technology.

Catherine Kendig is a member of The Biological Engineering Collaboratory (BEC). The BEC is an interdisciplinary network designed to help make historical, philosophical, and social scientific study of the intersections of biology and engineering much more visible, while providing a platform for further growth in the area.

Catherine Kendig and Sean Valles are a board-members of the Consortium for Socially Relevant Philosophy of/in Science and Engineering (SRPoiSE). This consortium aims to improve the capacity of philosophers of all specializations to collaborate and engage with scientists, engineers, policymakers, and a wide range of publics to foster epistemically and ethically responsible scientific and technological research.

Greg Lusk is member of the Knowledge for Use (K4U) Research Team (Case Study: Climate Services). This is an interdisciplinary and multi-institutional ERC funded research project that weaves together six case studies and two research streams.

Michael O’Rourke, Robert Pennock, and Sean Valles are respectively Directors and collaborating members of the Toolbox Dialogue Initiative.  TDI helps cross-disciplinary research and practice teams improve their communication by increasing mutual understanding. It has focused on helping interdisciplinary science teams understand their ontological and methodological assumptions but has expanded to other kinds of interdisciplinary practices.

Michael O’Rourke is the Principal Investigator of the NSF-funded project, “Toolbox Workshop for the AccelNet PI Meeting.” This project will involve developing and conducting a “Toolbox” workshop at the Principal Investigator (PI) meeting of the US National Science Foundation Accelerate Research Through International Network-to-Network Collaboration (AccelNet) program.


Michael O’Rourke is a co-Principal Investigator of the NSF-funded project, “Workshop on Assessing Ethics Education Interventions in Science and Engineering.” This project will bring together STEM ethics educators from a wide variety of fields to propose and defend potentially transformative goals for ethics education interventions.

Paul Thompson is a member of the Sustainable Michigan Endowed Project (SMEP). SMEP serves as a catalyst and convener of interdisciplinary dialogue and research around existing and emerging sustainability topics and has invested considerable resources in exploring the implications of sustainability particularly for the future of Michigan

Robert Pennock leads the Scientific Virtues Project, which combines theoretical and empirical methods to investigate the values that ought to be cultivated to foster excellence and integrity in scientific practice.  The project seeks to integrate core philosophical questions about scientific methodology with broader questions about scientific character and virtue.  SVP is also developing, running and testing a new approach to responsible conduct of research (RCR) training based on this approach, and has begun to expand this analysis and its application into other vocations.

Robert Pennock leads the Evolving Intelligence (EI) Project  which focuses on experimental epistemology.  Funded since 2005 with various grants from the Cambridge Templeton Consortium and the National Science Foundation, Pennock’s interdisciplinary group uses agent-based modeling to study how evolutionary processes can produce the building blocks of intelligence.  Using evolving digital organisms and evolving neural networks, the project has studied a range of foundational questions, including the evolution of phenotypic plasticity, the evolution of memory use, the evolution of gait and navigation controllers, and the evolution of altruism.  Current work investigates the evolution of curiosity.

Robert Pennock is co-PI of the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action, an NSF Science and Technology Center that brings together biologists, computer scientists, and engineers to illuminate and harness the power of evolution.  Pennock is co-lead of the Behavior and Intelligence group, which focuses on the experimental investigations of the evolution of intelligent behavior.  BEACON also has numerous education and public outreach projects aimed at improving evolution education and public understanding of evolutionary science, and increasing participation of underrepresented groups in STEM research.

Robert Pennock leads the Avida-ED Project.  Avida-ED is an award-winning educational application for undergraduate biology courses to help students learn about evolution and scientific method by allowing them to design and perform experiments to test hypotheses about evolutionary mechanisms using evolving digital organisms. 

Isaac Record is the Director of the Collaborative Experimental Learning Laboratory (CELL), a creative, interdisciplinary and experimental work space, equipped with a 3D printer and board games, Virtual Reality and glue sticks.

Sean Valles is the co-chair for the Joint Caucus for Socially Engaged Philosophers and Historians of Science (JCSEPHS), a group that promote research, educational and public activities in history and philosophy of science that constructively engages matters of social welfare.

Sean Valles is a member of the Outreach and Engagement Committee of the Philosophy of Science Association, which is charged with developing programming and infrastructure to encourage, connect, and promote the activities of members who want to be more socially engaged as philosophers of science.

Sean Valles is an invited member of the Hastings Center project, “How Should the Public Learn? Reconstructing Common Purpose and Civic Innovation for a Democracy in Crisis”. This project aims at learning how to improve civic and public understanding of complex issues in ways suited to the current era. It seeks, that is, to improve civic learning processes—public mechanisms for gathering information, deliberating, and building consensus.

Sean Valles is an appointed member of the Public Philosophy Committee of the American Philosophical Association, which works to find and create opportunities that demonstrate the personal value and social usefulness of philosophy.