Skip to main content

Postdoctoral Scholars

  • Derek Halm

    Derek Halm

    Derek Halm is a postdoctoral scholar at the Institute for Practical Ethics at UC San Diego. He is an applied environmental ethicist and philosopher of biology with broad interests in environmental conservation and animal welfare. He is working on several projects, including the conservation of hybrid species.Derek received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Utah, his master’s degree in philosophy from Western Michigan University, and his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and English from the University of Michigan-Flint.
  • Zinhle Mncube

    Zinhle Mncube

    Zinhle Mncube is a postdoctoral scholar for the Institute of Practical Ethics at UC San Diego. She is a philosopher of science with a particular interest in race and medicine. Her current research concerns the epistemology and ethics of personalizing medicine.

    Mncube completed her Ph.D. at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge, with her dissertation "The Prospects of Personalizing Medicine." Mncube is a former lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Johannesburg, where she taught courses on the use of race in medicine, race, racism and gender, the role of science in society, and racist hate speech, amongst others.

  • Bonginkosi Shozi

    Bonginkosi Shozi

    Bonginkosi Shozi is currently a postdoctoral research scholar at the Institute for Practical Ethics. He holds the degrees of Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and Master of Laws (LLM) in Constitutional Law, Theory, and Human Rights Litigation, both obtained from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He recently completed the requirements for a Ph.D. in Law at the same institution.

    Bonginkosi conducts research on the legal, ethical and human rights implications of novel technologies. This includes biotechnological innovations — such as CRISPR — as well as assisted reproductive technologies, and pharmaceutical products.

    His doctoral thesis, funded by the National Research Foundation and the UKZN African Health Research Flagship, is titled “An Afrocentric approach to CRISPR-Cas9: Analysing the use of genetic technologies in human reproduction through the lens of human rights and African values,” and investigated critical legal, ethical and human rights issues emanating from the prospect of heritable human genome editing from an African perspective.

Ph.D. Fellows

  • Ross Graham

    Ross Graham

    2023 - 2024

    2021 - 2022

  • Leo Kleiman-Lynch

    Leo Kleiman-Lynch

    2022 - 2024

    Leo Kleiman-Lynch is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Psychology. He obtained his master’s degree in experimental psychology from UC San Diego, and his undergraduate degree in applied psychology from Ithaca College.

    His research focuses primarily on how and why default choices affect the decisions people make. With the institute, he plans to explore how strategic use of default choices can help low-income households make energy decisions that are aligned with their preferences.

  • Kathryne Metcalf

    Kathryne Metcalf

    2022 - 2024

    Kathryne Metcalf is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Communication and Science Studies Program, where she is also the co-organizer of the Critical Data Studies Working Group. She holds a master’s degree in American culture studies from Bowling Green State University, and a bachelor’s degree in literary studies from Beloit College.

    Her work explores how databases function as the epistemic grammar of big data sciences. Her current project examines the role of biobanks — institutional collections of biomaterials and related data — as a critical infrastructure within the interdisciplinary research ecologies of contemporary genomics.

  • Lian Song

    Lian Song

    2022 - 2024

    Lian Song is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication and Science Studies Program. His research examines the emerging processes and promise of community-led deliberation and power over socio-technical systems. His current project explores political configurations in relation to urban surveillance and database systems, especially as they mediate local government and community actors.

  • Karina Villa Ortiz

    Karina Villa Ortiz

    2022 - 2024

    Karina Villa Ortiz is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Philosophy. She earned her undergraduate degree in philosophy at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

    Her current research interests are in Epistemology (social and formal), Philosophy of Law (as it intersects with epistemology) and Applied Ethics. Her current research projects include questions about animal cognition (such as how dogs understand time and build concepts) as well as the use of artificial intelligence in immigration enforcement.

  • Sophie Webb

    Sophie Webb

    2022 - 2024

    Sophie Webb is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology. Her research interests include bioethics, public health and health inequities, while her current project focuses on the pathway from ethics to implementation in public health. As a fellow at the Institute for Practical Ethics, she will be investigating what effect different prioritizations of COVID vaccines have had on health disparities.

Visiting Graduate Students

  • Ahmad Elabbar

    Ahmad Elabbar

    Ahmad Elabbar is a Ph.D. student in philosophy of science at the University of Cambridge. His Ph.D. project explores the ways in which global climate assessments raise concerns of justice, drawing on perspectives from history and philosophy of science, political philosophy and social epistemology. Prior to his Ph.D., he completed degrees in physics, philosophy, and history and philosophy of science and medicine. Currently, in Spring 2023, he is visiting the Institute for Practical Ethics at UC San Diego as a Fulbright Postgraduate Scholar.
  • Jon Rueda

    Jon Rueda

    Jon Rueda is a Fulbright Visiting Graduate Student at the Institute for Practical Ethics beginning August 2023 until February 2024. He is a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy at the University of Granada (Spain), where he is writing a thesis on how genetic enhancement technologies may lead to moral changes in the future. Beyond his dissertation topic, his current research interests include philosophical problems around techno-moral change, anticipatory governance of emerging technologies, the ethics of noise, and sleep hygiene as a bioethical and public health problem. His previous articles are available at: