The UW Neuroethics Research Group is a part of the Center for Neurotechnology (CNT). The National Science Foundation funded the CNT as an Engineering Research Center (ERC) in 2011 as a multi-institution center (UW, MIT, SDSU) dedicated to advancing research in neural engineering, particularly on developing bi-directional implantable brain-computer interface devices. Neuroethics and members of the Department of Philosophy have been a part of the CNT since its inception. Sara Goering has led the Neuroethics Research Group within the CNT since 2012. Eran Klein, a neurologist and affiliate professor in the Department of Philosophy, joined the CNT in 2013 to help coordinate educational, research, and ethics engagement activities of the CNT. Undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students in the Philosophy Department have been key contributors to the Neuroethics Research Group.
The Neuroethics group studies ethical issues arising from emerging neural engineering technologies. Issues include questions of privacy, security, moral and legal responsibility, changes in our understanding of agency, shifts in personal identity, and social justice. We have a commitment to the inclusion of disability perspectives in the design of devices intended to benefit people with disabilities. Our group does both normative theoretical research and writing, and empirical studies such as focus groups with intended end-users.
Our work is constituted by three principal activities:
Check out some of our recent activities in the Neuroethics Group news feed.
Sara Goering, Co-Lead (UW Philosophy, CNT profile & research)
Sara Goering is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Washington, Seattle, and directs the Neuroethics Research Group in the Center for Neurotechnology (CNT). She is also a member of the Program on Ethics, the Disability Studies Program, and adjunct faculty in the Bioethics & Humanities Department. Her work in the Neuroethics Research Group focuses on issues of agency and identity in relation to neural technology (both DBS and BCI), and emphasizes the importance of engagement with disabled people, who are often the intended end-users of the technology.
Eran Klein, Co-Lead (UW Philosophy, CNT profile & research)
Eran Klein is a neurologist specializing in dementia at Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU) and the Portland VA Health Care System (PVAHCS). He is part of the Neuroethics Research Group at the NSF Center for Neurotechnology (CNT) at the University of Washington. He works at the intersection of neurology, neuroscience, and philosophy.
Timothy Brown is Assistant Professor of Bioethics & Humanities at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He works at the intersection of biomedical ethics, philosophy of technology, (black/latinx/queer) feminist thought, and aesthetics. His research explores the potential impact of neurotechnologies—systems that record and stimulate the nervous system—on end users’ sense of agency and embodiment. His work also interrogates neurotechnologies for their potential to exacerbate or create social inequities, in order to establish best practices for engineers.
Kate MacDuffie is an Assistant Professor in the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Division of Bioethics and Palliative Care, Department of Pediatrics, UW School of Medicine. She has a PhD in clinical psychology. Her work focuses on understanding the ethical and social impacts of advances in neuroscience on children and adults affected by psychiatric, neurological, and neurodevelopmental disorders. One of her current projects investigates the experiences of human subjects who donate biospecimens for brain organoid research.
Oliver Rollins is a qualitative sociologist who works on issues of race/racism in and through science and technology. Specifically, his research explores how racial identity, racialized discourses, and systemic practices of social difference influence, engage with, and are affected by, the making and use of neuroscientific technologies and knowledges. Rollins’s book, Conviction: The Making and Unmaking of The Violent Brain (Stanford University Press, 2021), traces the development and use of neuroimaging research on anti-social behaviors and crime, with special attention to the limits of this controversial brain model when dealing with aspects of social difference, power, and inequality.
Andrew Ivan Brown is a postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Washington, Seattle. His interdisciplinary research examines ethical issues that arise from conceptual problems in biomedicine, especially surrounding mental disabilities, through both theoretical and ethnographic methodologies. He has recently done work on the sociophilosophical and affirmative dimensions of ADHD, the sociomaterial links between chronic traumatic encephalopathy and hypermasculinity in Canadian hockey leagues, and the discursive history of the Canadian “gay blood ban.” At UW, he is conducting qualitative research as part of the Caring for BRAIN Pioneers NIH-funded project with the neuroethics group.
Frédéric Gilbert (University of Tasmania)
Frederic Gilbert, PhD, is a philosopher conducting research on the ethical issues raised by novel implantable neurotechnologies, in particular experimental use of Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI).
Darcy McCusker has a PhD in philosophy from the University of Washington, Seattle. She works on issues of trust in research, gender inequities in citation practices in science, and integration of ethics in science.
Joseph Stramondo (SDSU) (CNT profile)
Joseph Stramondo is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Associate Director of the Institute for Ethics and Public Affairs at San Diego State University, as well as core faculty for the Neuroethics Research Group. His research is located at the intersection of bioethics and philosophy of disability.
Erika Versalovic (UW Philosophy)
Erika Versalovic is a PhD student in the Department of Philosophy. Her work is on relational agency and she will be the RA for an NIH RF1 grant focused on BCI and agency.
Nicolai Wohns is a PhD student in the department of philosophy and a practicing physician, interested in philosophy of medicine and philosophy of biology. His current research interests include evolutionary critiques of transhumanist theories of aging.
- Chloe Dahleen (UW; now Partners in Health)
- Zoe Hale (UW)
- Audry Davis (University of Puget Sound)
- Noah Robinson (Georgia State University)
Alumni of the Neuroethics Research Group
- Andreas Schönau (now at Cyber Agency, German government)
- Ishan Dasgupta (now at the Dana Foundation)
- Frederic Gilbert (now Associate Professor, University of Tasmania)
- Laura Specker Sullivan (now Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Fordham University)
Past Graduate Students:
- Marion Boulicault (now Assistant Professor, University of Edinburgh)
- Alicia Intriago (now Assistant Federal Public Defender, Las Vegas NV)
- Natalia Montes (now Graduate Advisor, UW Neuroscience)
- Michelle Pham (now Assistant Professor, Michigan State University Center for Bioethics and Social Justice)
- Matthew Sample (now Professor for Responsible Research and Innovation, Leibniz University Hannover)
- Anjali Truitt (now Salesforce Certified Administrator)
- Paul Tubig (now Assistant Professor, Georgia Southern University)
- Jenan Alsarraf (UW)
- Sami Ayele (high school student; then Johns Hopkins University)
- Melissa Diamond (UW, then UW College of Education)
- Hannah Earhart (summer research education for teachers)
- Alex Franke (UW; then Washington State University Medical School)
- Cohavit Gil (UMass Amherst)
- Mikalia Jackson (Spelman College)
- Kowe Kadoma (Florida State University; then Cornell Graduate School)
- Hannah Martens (UW; then University of Illinois, Chicago philosophy graduate program)
- Phoenix Meadowlark (UW; then Google)
- Christopher Pham (UW; the Dartmouth Medical School)
- Sierra Simmerman (UW; then Tulane University)
- Hale Soloff (Ursinus University; then Emory university neuroscience graduate program)
- Ian Stevens (Northern Arizona University; then University of Tasmania)
- Tatianah Summers (Seattle University)
- Juliana Trifan (Temple University)