BIO/EVS/CHEM 495 Senior Seminar

Presentation Topics

Rubric here.

(Oct 16) How to ruin your career as a scientist:  Cold fusion and press conferences. See here.

  • Presentation 1: What is fusion?  Why is it so elusive?  What is cold fusion? (Reegan)
  • Presentation 2:  Pons and Fleischmann---What's the story? (Taiana)

(Oct 16) How to ruin your credibility: Put it in writing.  Climategate and scientists' emails.  See here, here, and here.

  • Presentation 1: How is climate data collected?  analyzed?  What is the IPCC?  What do they do?     (Sam)
  • Presentation 2: What is the Climate Research Unit of the U.K.’s University of East Anglia?  What is the controversy about their email?  What were the effects? (Lyndy)

(Oct 23) Currently, we acknowledge that smoking is a leading cause of cancer and heart disease, but the path to accepting that was long and controversial.  See here and here.

  • Presentation 1: What is the history of cigarette use?  How was the health impacts established?     (Dylan)
  • Presentation 2:  How did the tobacco industry work to undermine scientific support for limiting smoking?  What proved effective in limiting smoking?  What did not? (Faz)

(Oct 23) Currently, any study that requires the use of human subjects is tightly regulated, including by an institutional review board (IRB).  See here, here, and here.     

  • Presentation 1: What is an institutional review board?  How does the IRB process work at the University of Dubuque? (Megan)
  • Presentation 2:  What was the Tuskegee Study?  Walk us through its history and outcome.  (Sally)

(Oct 30) Who should have access to exploit genetic resources (bioresources/biodiversity) and what ethical processes can be used to guide this type of research? Bioprospecting vs. biopiracy? (See here, here, here, and here.)

  • Presentation 1: What is bioprospecting? What best practices are established by researchers prior to participating in bioprospecting research? How can the benefits resulting from the exploitation of genetic resources be equitable? (Zac)
  • Presentation 2: What is biopiracy? Outline two documented examples of bioprospecting that critics have labeled as biopiracy. (Hannah)

(Oct 30) Tradeoffs associated with preprint manuscripts. Especially considering research on topics that has the ability to dramatically shift public health policy (e.g., COVID19) Peer-review process. (See here and here.)

  • Presentation 1: What is a preprint? How is it different than a peer-reviewed scientific journal publication? What are some positive attributes associated with providing public access to preprint articles? (Julia)
  • Presentation 2: What are the downsides of providing public access to preprint articles? Do the potential repercussions vary in magnitude depending on the topical nature of the research? What ethical considerations should a researcher consider before uploading a preprint to a public server? (Nathan)

(Nov 13) Potential issues with authorship and how the use of the number of publications and impact measures often used by the scientific community can create an incentive for morally questionable behavior. (See here, here, here, and here.)

  • Presentation 1: Why is authorship important in the scientific community? What are common criteria used for authorship? Does the order of authors matter? Is it discipline specific? (Natalie)
  • Presentation 2: What are some ethical issues that arise due to the importance placed on authorship in the scientific community? Outline some ethically dubious practices regarding authorship. (Matt)

(Nov 13) The Double Helix: For the book sections, you are preparing a slide presentation like other students that summarizes the chapters and identifies 3-5 main points that you elaborate upon. The focus, as much as possible, is upon the ethical questions raised.

  • Presentation 1: Chapters 1-4 (Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, & James Watson's Early research path) (Levi)
  • Presentation 2: Chapters 5-8 (Linus Pauling & Watson moves to Cambridge and starting in the Cavendish Lab with Crick) (Isaiah)

(Nov 20) The Double Helix

  • Presentation 1: Chapters 9-12 (Franklins X-ray diffraction data, Watson & Crick working on modeling DNA structure) (Alissa)
  • Presentation 2: Chapters 13-16 (first failed model and overview of research project that was supporting Watson’s fellowship) (Josie)
  • Presentation 3: Chapters 17-20 (thinking more about a new model with Chargaff’s rules for base pairing and other research while Franklin obtained better X-ray diffraction images) (Josh)

(Dec 4) The Double Helix

  • Presentation 1: Chapters 21-24 (Pauling’s incorrect model, Watson see’s Franklin’s X-ray diffraction image w/out her knowledge, working more on the model) (Sydney)
  • Presentation 2: Chapters 25-29 (making the structural model and publication) (Tiffany

(Dec 4) How should credit be allocated? What are some publication mechanisms for providing credit? (See here, here,, and, here.)

  • Presentation 1: Who were Eunice Foote and Fanny Hesse? Were the contributions of these historical characters overlooked or reported? If we could go back in time, how might these situations have been addressed to resolve potential credit issues? (Scarlett)
  • Presentation 2: Newton said, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants." Darwin is considered one of the greatest biologists. Whose shoulders did he stand upon? What were their contributions? (Hayli)

(Dec 11) Can an individual's scientific work be viewed independently of the persons character? Are all good scientists' individuals with strong moral character? (See here, here, here, here, here, and here)

  • Presentation 1: Who is James Watson? What were his contributions within the scientific community? (Jenna)
  • Presentation 2: Outline some examples of questionable character and behavior that Dr. Watson has publicly exhibited. How has the scientific community responded to his views and behavior? (Madeline Bradley)
  • Presentation 3: How may internationally recognized scientists influence social norms and culture within the scientific community? Is it possible to clearly separate the science from the moral character of an accomplished scientist? (Livia)
  • Presentation 4: How can we determine that a person is no longer competent to make their own medical decisions? (Olivia C)