Scientists and Synthetic Biology: New Science, New Media, (New) Public Engagement

Sunday, February 14, 2016: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Marshall Ballroom East (Marriott Wardman Park)
Dominique Brossard,University of Wisconsin, Madison, Madison, WI

This talk reports on a representative survey of 787 highly cited researchers in synthetic biology and examines their motivations and practices related to public engagement, focusing specifically on the ethical and legal implications and the societal applications of these new technologies. Results indicate that a majority of researchers involved in synthetic biology believe lay audiences can bring valuable perspectives to discussions about scientific research, and that scientists should pay attention to the wishes of the public, even if they think citizens are mistaken or do not understand their work.  Analyses of scientists’ activities on social media are also presented. Results clearly indicate an evolution in scientists’ perspectives on the value of public engagement and public input in complex science-related policy decisions.