Title

The Effect of Education on the Public Opinion of Synthetic Biology

Presenter Information

Erica Shannon

Department

Biological Sciences

Major

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

Erica is a senior at Missouri University of Science and Technology. She majors in Biological Sciences and is pursuing minors in Chemistry and the Psychology of Leadership. Erica is the former President of iGEM, S&T’s new Synthetic Biology Design team. She has been involved with the organization since she was a freshman. Currently, Erica is the Vice President of Phi Sigma, the biological honors society. She is also active in the Residential Life department as a member of the National Residence Hall Honorary. As well as her work through the OURE Fellows program, Erica is a group leader in the S&T Neurobiology Lab and cDNA Resource Center. Next year Erica will attend medical school at Vanderbilt University to pursue a PhD in Biomedical Sciences.

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

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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.