Societal & Ethical Implications Core

All research and activities within PreMiEr are guided and done in collaboration with the Societal and Ethical Implications (SEI) Core.

PreMiEr’s work evokes a diverse range of SEI issues at the intersection of health and environmental risk, medical ethics, research ethics, environmental release of GMOs, public trust and perceptions, social equity, gender and racial inequities, privacy and regulation, and responsible governance.

PreMiEr provides a unique opportunity to engage researchers, engineers, stakeholders, and publics in emerging conversations about engineered microbiomes in built environments

The ERC also enables novel and ground-breaking scholarly examination of SEI aspects of microbiome engineering for built environments

Currently funded projects

SEI-1: Advancing built microbiome SEI scholarship and practice: Creating an integration and research agenda

PreMiEr’s microbiome engineering  framework will enable the development of a wide range of transformative technologies that solve societal challenges at the interface of health and the environment. However, the dissemination of these same technologies is not without risk as it relies on the responsible development and societal acceptance of microbiome engineering approaches. This project will develop an agenda for research on the ethical, societal, and policy aspects of PreMiEr’s evolving microbiome engineering discoveries and methods for integration of SEI into PreMiEr’s work.

Collaborations

      

Jennifer Kuzma

Jennifer Kuzma

NC State, Project Lead

Joseph Graves, Jr.

Joseph Graves, Jr.

N.C. A&T

Joe Brown

Joe Brown

UNC Chapel Hill

Christopher Cummings

Christopher Cummings

NC State

SEI-2: Social equity and built microbiome engineering: Ghost variables and their implication in health and science policy

In microbiome research there has been the emergence of “ghost variables”. These variables (as outlined in De Wolfe et al., 2021) are cases where in place of explicit terms like environmental racism, researchers use implicit terms to discuss socially defined groups through terms like nationality, developer/underdeveloped, or western. These implicit terms run the risk of reinforcing biological essentialist beliefs about socially constructed groups like race or gender. This project will systematically gather and analyze literature from researchers, research institutions, national agencies, news media, etc. and partner with the data analytics team to develop recommendations for researchers to avoid the use of ghost variables in their own research.

Collaborations

      

Joseph Graves, Jr.

Joseph Graves, Jr.

N.C. A&T, Project Lead

Jennifer Kuzma

Jennifer Kuzma

NC State

Christopher Cummings

Christopher Cummings

NC State

Joe Brown

Joe Brown

UNC Chapel Hill

SEI-3: Survey research: Assessing public and stakeholder attitudes towards built microbiome engineering

Developments to understand and engineer microbiomes are developing swiftly. From an oversight perspective, the current state-of-the-science of precision microbiome engineering comes with significant uncertainty within and across expert groups. This project will identigy areas of stakeholder disagreement and uncertainty to prioritize future research trajectories and address information needs while anticipating and preparing for how the larger citizenry will come to learn about, and make sense of, microbiome engineering.

Collaborations

      

      

Christopher Cummings

Christopher Cummings

NC State, Project Lead

Jennifer Kuzma

Jennifer Kuzma

NC State

Joseph Graves, Jr.

Joseph Graves, Jr.

N.C. A&T

Joe Brown

Joe Brown

UNC Chapel Hill