Title

The Effect of Education on the Public Opinion of Synthetic Biology

Presenter Information

Amanda Foster

Department

Biological Sciences

Major

Chemical Engineering and Biological Sciences

Research Advisor

Westenberg, David J.

Advisor's Department

Biological Sciences

Funding Source

Missouri S&T Opportunities for Undergraduate Research Experiences (OURE) Program

Abstract

The field of synthetic biology is rapidly growing. The applications have great potential, but they also present new risks and dangers. Future progress in this field substantially depends on public support; therefore, it is important to have quantitative measures of the public opinion of synthetic biology. Using statistical sampling in the form of surveys, we have collected data from an unprecedented religious standpoint. Qualitative data collected from group discussions was used to design the surveys. Findings show that subjects with a religious affiliation were more likely to disapprove of synthetic biology. Findings also reveal a significant difference between educational treatments. A “hands on” approach designed to simultaneously entertain and educate subjects was more effective at increasing positive perceptions of synthetic biology than a formal presentation. The data collected from this research provides significant insights into public opinion and the design of educational tools.

Biography

Amanda is a third-year student at Missouri S&T. She is currently majoring in Biological Sciences and Chemical Engineering with a Biochemical Engineering emphasis. She is and has been involved in a number of research projects through the International Genetically Engineered Machines Team (iGEM) and through the Office of Undergraduate Studies and the Department of Biological Sciences. She is also the president of iGEM. Amanda enjoys reading, playing ultimate frisbee, playing disc golf, skiing, and scuba diving.

Research Category

Social Sciences

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Document Type

Presentation

Award

Social sciences oral presentation, First place

Location

Carver Room

Presentation Date

10 Apr 2012, 1:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Comments

Joint project with Erica Shannon

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Apr 10th, 1:00 PM Apr 10th, 1:30 PM

The Effect of Education on the Public Opinion of Synthetic Biology

Carver Room

The field of synthetic biology is rapidly growing. The applications have great potential, but they also present new risks and dangers. Future progress in this field substantially depends on public support; therefore, it is important to have quantitative measures of the public opinion of synthetic biology. Using statistical sampling in the form of surveys, we have collected data from an unprecedented religious standpoint. Qualitative data collected from group discussions was used to design the surveys. Findings show that subjects with a religious affiliation were more likely to disapprove of synthetic biology. Findings also reveal a significant difference between educational treatments. A “hands on” approach designed to simultaneously entertain and educate subjects was more effective at increasing positive perceptions of synthetic biology than a formal presentation. The data collected from this research provides significant insights into public opinion and the design of educational tools.