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Research Scholars

  • Ramya M. Rajagopalan

    Ramya M. Rajagopalan

    Assistant Research Scientist

    Ramya M. Rajagopalan earned her Ph.D. in biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and completed postdoctoral fellowships in sociology and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    Ramya’s work uses ethnographic and archival methods to examine the social impacts of genome technologies and big data in biomedicine. In one strand of her research, she has analyzed debates about the meaning and significance of genetic variation for social categories of identity like race.

    Current projects investigate ethical issues in genome editing and gene drive, and the impact of emerging tools in precision medicine on medical research and health care practices.  

Postdoctoral Scholars

  • Daniel Callies

    Daniel Callies

    Daniel Edward Callies is a postdoctoral scholar at the Institute for Practical Ethics. Born and raised in Southern California, he received his bachelor's degree in philosophy from San Diego State University, returning to be awarded a master's degree for his thesis “Equality, Responsibility, and Climate Policy.” In 2013, he began a Ph.D. at Goethe University Frankfurt under the supervision of Professor Darrel Moellendorf.

    Daniel defended his dissertation “On the Ethics and Politics of Climate Engineering,” then worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Goethe University until joining the Institute for Practical Ethics in fall 2018.

    His book "Climate Engineering: A Normative Perspective" was published in July 2019 and "takes as its subject a prospective policy response to the urgent problem of climate change, one previously considered taboo."

  • April Hovav

    April Hovav

    April Hovav earned a Ph.D. in sociology with a certificate in gender studies from the University of Southern California. Her work brings a sociological perspective, grounded in ethnographic research, to the study of bioethical dilemmas. 

    In one line of research, she examines the relationship between developments in medical technologies and the emergence of new global markets through which women’s bodies are leveraged as a source of capital. Her article “Producing Moral Palatability in the Mexican Surrogacy Industry,” was published in Gender & Society.  

    At the Institute for Practical Ethics, she will conduct research on the social and ethical implications of using gene drive technologies to combat malaria.

  • Athmeya Jayaram

    Athmeya Jayaram

    Athmeya Jayaram is a postdoctoral scholar at the Institute for Practical Ethics. Athmeya earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at Amherst College and a Ph.D. in political theory at the University of California Berkeley. He is currently completing a master’s degree in bioethics at New York University.

    Athmeya’s research concerns the justice and justification of emerging technologies. His doctoral dissertation “Public Reason and Private Bias” proposes a new way to justify laws and decision-making procedures to ordinary citizens, given their limited information and inevitable biases.

    One line of research concerns the relationship between corporations and democracy, including the duty of social-media companies to foster productive deliberation and the ethics of powerful companies pressuring local governments for concessions. A second line of research addresses the technologies themselves, such as the justification of genetic screening for disabilities and the ethics of gene drive technologies.

  • Jacob Sparks

    Jacob Sparks

    Jacob Sparks is a postdoctoral scholar at the Institute for Practical Ethics. He earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Tufts University and a Ph.D. in applied philosophy from Bowling Green State University.

    He has taught courses business ethics, medical ethics, data ethics, moral philosophy and the philosophy of law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Saint Francis College and Bowling Green State University.

    At the institute, Jacob is working on ethical issues surrounding privacy and automation. He’s especially interested in questions about the importance of privacy to agency, about what it would take for a machine to be capable of making moral distinctions, and about whether privacy rights should be understood as property rights in personal data.

Ph.D. Fellows

  • Colin M. Burke

    Colin M. Burke

    2019 – 2020

    Colin M. Burke is a Ph.D. candidate in the UC San Diego Department of Sociology. Colin’s research interests include surveillance, social networks, big data, and computational social science. His current research combines social network analysis and computational methods to examine the relationships between public and private organizations involved in surveillance practices in the United States.

  • Davide Carpano

    Davide Carpano

    2019 – 2020

    Davide Carpano is a PhD Candidate in Sociology and Science Studies at UC San Diego. He obtained his bachelor's and master's degrees in sociology at UC San Diego. At the intersection of economic sociology, and science and technology studies his research examines the commodification of free and open source software.

  • Eugene Chua

    Eugene Chua

    2019 – 2020

    Eugene Chua is a Ph.D. student in the UC San Diego Department of Philosophy. He received his bachelor's degree in philosophy from the University of Cambridge. His primary research interests center on the philosophy of physics, philosophy of science, and formal epistemology. Currently, he is collaborating with three data scientists - Nicholas Capel, Rocco Hu, and Sean Saito, all based in Singapore - to investigate the value that explainable machine learning algorithms can bring to policy-making in the domain of climate change, when compared with standard 'black-box' algorithms and traditional models.  

  • Daniel Driscoll

    Daniel Driscoll

    2019 – 2020

    Daniel Driscoll is a Ph.D. candidate in the UC San Diego Department of Sociology. Research interests include environmental sociology, climate change, carbon pricing, political economy, social movements and research methods. He has examined how countries enact carbon taxation politics to fight climate change, as well as the political tensions between economic growth and climate policy.

  • Ross Graham

    Ross Graham

    2019 – 2020

    Ross Graham is a Ph.D. student in the UC San Diego Department of Sociology. He completed his master's degree in sustainability studies from Lipscomb University, and was a researcher in the Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. His research interests span the sociology of science and technology, ethics, intelligence and cognition, big data and existential risk.

  • Mohammad Khamsya Bin Khidzer

    Mohammad Khamsya Bin Khidzer

    2019 – 2020

    Mohammad Khamsya is a Ph.D. student in the UC San Diego Department of Sociology. Mohammad completed his degrees in sociology at the National University of Singapore and was a researcher at the Institute of Policy Studies. His current research examines how scientists and experts in the public-health infrastructure negotiate modalities of race in Singapore.

  • Cami Koepke

    Cami Koepke

    2019 – 2020

    Cami Koepke is a Ph.D. candidate in the UC San Diego Department of Philosophy. She completed a MDiv at Emory University and a MA in philosophy from Georgia State University. Her primary research focuses on questions about responsibility and addiction. She also has interests in issues pertaining to motivation and self-regulation, especially in regard to conditions that are treated within a clinical setting. She previously served as an intern at the Children's Hospital of Atlanta.      

  • Chuncheng Liu

    Chuncheng Liu

    2019 – 2020

    Chuncheng Liu is a Ph.D. student in the UC San Diego Department of Sociology. Chuncheng obtained a bachelor's degree in sociology at Sun Yat-sen University and worked at an HIV/AIDS research institution for two years. A mixed-method researcher, his interests include social classification and quantification of people, science and technologies studies, and economic sociology.

  • Edward Randolph

    Edward Randolph

    2019 – 2020

    Ned Randolph is a Ph.D. candidate in the UC San Diego Department of Communication. A graduate of the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Ned’s research examines the troubled history of oil and gas extraction in Louisiana’s coastal marshes, particularly the ethical implications of funding coastal restoration through expanded exploration in the Gulf of Mexico.

  • Sarah Stembridge

    Sarah Stembridge

    2019 – 2020

    Sarah Stembridge is a Ph.D. student in the UC San Diego Department of Sociology. She earned her bachelor's degree in liberal studies and her master's degree in sociology from California State University, Northridge. Her research interests include identity and embodiment, gender, reproduction and assisted reproductive technologies, and the sociology of food.

  • Ann Thresher

    Ann Thresher

    2019 – 2020

    Ann Thresher is a Ph.D. candidate in the UC San Diego Department of Philosophy. She completed a bachelor's degree in physics and bachelor's degree in philosophy at the University of Sydney. Her current research centers on the philosophy of science, with particular interests in the ethics and impact of gene-drive technology on conservation efforts, and the philosophy of physics and time.

  • Jada Wiggleton-Little

    Jada Wiggleton-Little

    2019 – 2020

    Jada Wiggleton-Little is a Ph.D. student in the UC San Diego Department of Philosophy. Her current interests include the philosophy of pain, testimonial epistemology and clinical ethics. Jada received her bachelor's degree in philosophy with a minor in health and human values at Davidson College. She has previously served as a clinical ethics intern at the Children's Minnesota Hospital.

  • Bolun Zhang

    Bolun Zhang

    2019 – 2020

    Bolun Zhang is a Ph.D. student in the UC San Diego Department of Sociology. Before coming to the United States, he received a bachelor's degree in Arabic and sociology and a master's degree in sociology from Peking University. At the intersection between economic sociology and political sociology, he is now working on a project on the issue of FDI, with an empirical focus on Chinese outward investments in cloud computing. He is also an advanced amateur in Arabic and coding.

Visiting Scholars

  • Megan Blomfield

    Megan Blomfield

    March – April 2020

    Megan Blomfield is a professor in The University of Sheffield Department of Philosophy. Her research concerns global justice and the environment, focusing on the normative dimensions of climate change, and her book "Global Justice, Natural Resources, and Climate Change," was published in May 2019.

  • Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

    Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

    January 2020  January 2021

    Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick is an author, educator and speaker. His work focuses on politics, culture, technology and social change. His recent books include "The Good Drone" (MIT Press, 2020) and "What Slaveholders Think" (Columbia, 2017), with shorter work appearing in Al Jazeera, the Guardian, Aeon, and Slate. Austin lives in California and holds academic appointments in the United States (University of San Diego) and England (University of Nottingham). Find him on Twitter at @achoifitz.

  • Bryan Cwik

    Bryan Cwik

    September – December 2019

    Bryan Cwik is an assistant professor in the Portland State University Department of Philosophy. He works on bioethics, political philosophy and philosophy of science, with recent work on intellectual property and climate change, and gene editing.

  • Saveetha Meganathan

    Saveetha Meganathan

    October 2019 – September 2021

    Saveetha Meganathan is a research scientist at the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society in Bangalore, India. She has consulted for Give2Asia, a nonprofit helping communities meet philanthropic goals. At the institute, Saveetha will research the ethics of gene drives as it relates to India.

  • Elliott Sober

    Elliott Sober

    January – March 2020

    Elliott Sober is Hans Reichenbach Professor and William F. Vilas Research Professor in the Philosophy Department at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. His most recent book, "Ockham's Razors - A User's Manual," was published in July 2015 by Cambridge University Press.

  • Cedric Whitney

    Cedric Whitney

    September 2019 – May 2020

    Cedric Whitney earned a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Delaware, before working in process automation for Bloomberg and as a senior partnership manager for a leading health AI start-up, Owkin. His research interests are focused on digital inequalities, and specifically on how expertise and accountability play a role.

  • Eric Winsberg

    Eric Winsberg

    January – August 2020

    Eric Winsberg is a professor in the University of South Florida Philosophy Department. His principal interests are in the philosophy of science, climate science and physics. His work in the philosophy of climate science specifically relates to their application in science policy and ethics.