When I first set out on this project with Dr. Moreno, the original intent was to focus on the lack of consensus regarding policies of Dual-Use Research of Concern (DURC). The project was going to revolve around the analysis of primary resources and government policies to identify gaps between countries’ foreign policies surrounding DURC. After completing this preliminary research, I would propose a solution to where countries could implement a more effective way of governing DURC. However, as the project began to take shape and I began to discuss with a former student of Dr. Moreno’s and now professor at UMass Lowell, Nicholas Evans, we realized a new angle I could approach this project that aligned more with my strengths. Given my background in neuroscience and philosophy, we began to discuss about the intersection of neuroscience and the ethical concerns that come along with biological and chemical weapons. We narrowed down the topic to ask “what counts” in terms of weaponized neuroscience and the biological weapons convention (BWC) or chemical weapons convention (CWC). We looked into the mechanisms of actions of drugs and how certain chemicals and biological entities integrate into the human body to create some level of compromise. It reveals how advances and research in neuroscience must be approached with caution, but not restriction as these advances can be abused in ways previously not thought of. We identified that a lack of research has been completed in this area and that we should ask more questions of this nature to direct future policy making.
This project has enabled me to utilize my knowledge of neuroscience and apply it to expand my scope of knowledge to other disciplines. Combining my passion for neuroscience and ethics, I was able to work on a project that not only forwarded my own academic interests, but I was able to make a significant contribution to an area of study that is greatly needed. Through this experience, I have combined both of my academic interests and opened a new avenue to pursue future research in a way I did not think possible. It made me pursue a fellowship with the Center for Neuroscience & Society in which I will be able to write a white paper regarding this topic to further this summer experience. Working on this project throughout the summer has made me realize that I want to pursue a career in research in the future and has encouraged me to convert this summer project into a thesis project of my own to hopefully one day publish my work. All in all, I have been incredibly satisfied with the research experience and I look forward to the opportunity to continue my research and the opportunity to expand my scope of knowledge.