Two Page Papers

Two-Page Background Papers Representing Various Perspectives on Research Agendas in the Societal Aspects of Synthetic Biology

The papers have been consolidated into two pdf documents (categories are bookmarked), or you can download papers individually below.

Consolidated PDF 1
​Biosafety & Biosecurity, Ethics, Sustainability, DIY/Makers, Public Opinion & Values, and Research & Innovation Systems Analysis

Consolidated PDF 2
Integration & Reflexivity, Anticipation & Futures, Informal Science Education, International & Inter-agency Collaboration, Risk, Governance, and Other


Biosafety and Biosecurity

"What's the Matter with Biosecurity?"
Sam Weiss Evans
University of California, Berkeley

"The Joint Genome Institute's Synthetic Biology Internal Review Process"
Nathan J. Hillson
Joint Genome Institute

"Synthetic Biology and Biosecurity: An Agenda for Social Science Research"
Claire Marris & Catherine Jefferson
Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine, King's College London

"Engaging the Public to Build a Better Biosafety and Biosecurity Culture"
Lei Pei
Biofaction KG, Vienna, Austria

"More Socio-Technical Assessments of Synthetic Biology to Inform Security Deliberations"
Kathleen M. Vogel
North Carolina State University


"A Rose by Any Other Name: On Synthetic Biology, Genetic Engineering, and Societal Control of Technology"
Michael J. Bernstein
Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University

"Perspectives on Engineering Life"
Eric Klavins
University of Washington

"Ethics and Policy in Synthetic Biology: The Development and Testing of a Massive Open Online Course"
Debra Mathews
Johns Hopkins University


"Fabrication of Biofuels With a Multi-Strain System"
Scott Ashmore, Vallari Somayaji, Matthew Ykema, David Reynolds, & Michael Waddington
Arizona State University iGem

"Sustainability, Substitution and Synthetic Biology"
Alice Benessia
Universite de la Vallee d' Aoste, Italy
Silvio Funtowicz
University of Bergen, Norway

"Transforming Meat for Environmental and Moral Improvement"
Dan Sarewitz and Rachel Levinson
Arizona State University


"Synthetic Biology as Open Science: Sharing Tools and Making Communities"
Ana Delgado & Silvio Funtowicz
Centre for the Study of the Sciences and Humanities, University of Bergen

"Evaluating the Benefit of Community Laboratories"
Ellen D. Jorgensen
Genspace NYC

"Beyond the Lab and Far Away: Engagement with the DIYbio Community"
Todd Kuiken
Woodrow Wilson Center

"Hacking Life? The Politics and Poetics of DIY Biology"
Morgan Meyer
Agro ParisTech

"The DIYBio Network: What Kind of Work We Are Doing Now and What Kind of Work We Want To Do"
Sara Tocchetti
London School of Economics and Political Sciences

Public Opinion and Values

"Nanotechnology Risk Perception and Public Participation Research as a Template for Synthetic Biology"
Barbara Herr Harthorn
Center for Nanotechnology in Society, University of California at Santa Barbara

"The Role of NPOs/NGOs in Building Science and Technology Social Capital Within Underrepresented Communities"
Sharon N. King
North Carolina State University

"Framing Responsible Innovation in Synthetic Biology: The Need for a Critical Discourse Analysis Approach"
Fujia Li, Richard Owen, & Elena Simakova
University of Exeter

"Synthetic Biology as Post-Normal Science: Lessons from Empirical Social Science"
Dietram A. Scheufele
University of Wisconsin--Madison

"Constructing a 'Futurology from Below': A Civil Society Contribution Towards a Research Agenda"
Jim Thomas
ETC Group

"Genetically Modified Medicine: Research Questions Related to New Possibilities for Treatment and Prevention"
Simone van der Burg
Radboud University Medical Center, The Netherlands

"Learning from Interdisciplinarity and Making It Public"
Britt Wray
Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, University of Copenhagen

Research and Innovations Systems Analysis

"The Moral Economies of Biotechnical Facilities: A Working Paper on Venues and Responsible Innovation"
Gaymon Bennett
Arizona State University

"The Need for Bioeconomy Data and Metrics"
Robert Carlson
Biodesic LLC

"Differentiating the discussion on Synthetic Biology"
Margaret Engelhard
EA European Academy of Technology and Innovation Assessment, Germany

"Biology Meets Engineering"
Emma Frow & Jane Calvert
University of Edinburgh, UK

"Synthetic Biology: A Whole Bunch of Balancing Acts"
Dov Greenbaum
Zvi Meitar Institute for Legal Implications of Emerging Technologies Interdisciplinary Center, Isreal, & Yale University

"Realizing Positive Network Effects in Synthetic Biology"
Linda J. Kahl
BioBricks Foundation

"Synthetic Biology in Global Health: Lessons from History and Anthropology"
Jennifer A. Liu
University of Waterloo

"Governing and Debating an Emerging Science: The Rise of Synthetic Biology in France"
Morgan Meyer
Agro ParisTech

"From Contribution to Co-Evolution: A Way To Promote Promote Responsible Innovation in Synthetic Biology?"
Eleonore Pauwels

"Social Science Contributions Compared in Synthetic Biology and Nanotechnology"
Philip Shapira, Jan Youtie, & Yin Li
University of Manchester and Georgia Institute of Technology

"Synthetic Biology as Social Construct: Imaginations as Accountable Material Democratic Social Formations?"
Brian Wynne
Lancaster University

Integration and Reflexivity

"Connecting Philosophy, Science and Sociology Through Example: Weak Emergence and Computation"
Ty Branch
University of Waterloo

"Experimental Collaborations"
Jane Calvert and Emma Frow
University of Edinburgh

"Towards Imperfection: Science Communication, Dialogue and Interdisciplinarity in Synthetic Biology"
Sarah R. Davies & Maja Horst
University of Copenhagen

"Grasping Synthetic Biology"
Jason Delborne
North Carolina State University

"High-Impact Social and Ethical Reflection Within Synthetic Biology Research"
Erik Fisher
Arizona State University

"Experiments in Practices: A Few General Lessons"
Megan Palmer
Stanford University

"Social Sciences and the Emergence of Synthetic Biology--The Need to Think Out of the (Black) Box"
Pierre-Benoit Joly
INRA and IFRIS, Paris

"Controlling Life? Implications of the Mathematisation of Biology & Other Topics"
Susan Molyneux-Hodgson
University of Sheffield

"Responsive Novelty: Taking Innovation Seriously in Research Agendas for Synthetic Biology"
Sujatha Raman
Leverhulme Making Science Public Research Programme & Institute for Science and Society (ISS), University of Nottingham, and Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, Arizona State University

"Societal Aspects of Synthetic Biology: Organisms and Applications Matter!"
Amy K. Wolfe
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Anticipation and Futures

"Moral Status, Illicit Bio-Economies, and Equity/Parity"
David M. Berube
North Carolina State University

"Context is Everything: Time Frames, Impacts, & Risk Communication in Synthetic Biology Decision Making Processes"
Margaret S. Race
SETI Institute

"The Monster and the Polar Bears: Constructing the Future Landscape of Synthetic Biology to Inform Responsible Innovation"
Lauren Withycombe Keeler
Institute for Ethics and Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research, Leuphana University, Luenburg  Rider Foley
University of Virginia

Informal Science Education

"Multi-Site Public Engagement with Science--Synthetic Biology"
Larry Bell & David Sittenfeld
Museum of Science

"Design Fiction as Public Engagement with Synthetic Biology"
Megan K. Halpern
Arizona State University

"NG-NNIN Societal & Ethical Implications Program Proposal"
Jameson Wetmore & Ira Bennett
Arizona State University

International and Inter-agency Collaboration

"China's Move Into Synthetic Biology: Will It Pay Off?"
Richard Applebaum
University of California at Santa Barbara

"iGEM as Laboratory in Responsible Research and Innovation"
Dirk Stemerding
Rathenau Istituut, The Hague


"Little Prevention, Less Cure: Synthetic Biology, Existential Risk, and Ethics"
Brian Patrick Green
Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and School of Engineering, Santa Clara University, California

"Sparse Information Mitigation Strategies for Managing Emergent Risk in Synthetic Biology"
George Khushf
University of South Carolina
in collaboration with Chris Anderson
University of California, Berkeley

"Risk Assessment of Genetically Engineered and Synthetic Biology Microorganisms by EPA Under the Toxic Substances Control Act"
Gwendolyn McClung
US Environmental Protection Agency

"Modeling Risk in Complex Bioeconomies"
Clark A. Miller
Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes, Arizona State University

"Synthetic Biology to Create Cyanobacterial Biocatalysts for Green Chemistry"
Wim Vermaas
Arizona State University


"An International Look at Regulatory Oversight of Synthetic Biology: Focus on Engineered Organisms with Intended Environmental Use"
Sarah R. Carter & Robert M. Friedman
J. Craig Venter Institute

"Where's Frankenstein? A Crowd-Sourcing Project to Identify How Frankenstein is Used in Policy Debates"
Robert Cook-Deegan
Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy

"Synthetic Biology or GMOS 2.0: Principles for Getting It Right, This Time"
Jaydee Hanson
International Center for Technology Assessment & Center for Food Safety

"Reimagining Responsibility in Synthetic Biology"
J. Benjamin Hurlbut
School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University

"Translational Governance Research for Synthetic Biology"
Jennifer Kuzma
Genetic Engineering and Society Center, North Carolina State University

"Synthetic Biology--An Opportunity for Soft Law Governance 2.0"
Gary Marchant
Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Arizona State University
Kathryn Scheckel
Office of the President, Arizona State University

"Synthetic Biology and EHS Governance: The Coordinated Framework Case"
Jeff Morris & Mark Segal
US Environmental Protection Agency

"Inclusion of Environmental Justice Communities in Discussion on Governance of Synthetic Biology"
Christina Ndoh
Department of Public Administration, North Carolina State University

"Synthetic Biology and the US Biotechnology Regulatory System"
Michael Rodemeyer
University of Virginia

"Research to Assist and to Understand International Biodiversity Governance"
Deborah Scott
Rutgers University

"Ability Expectation and Ableism Studies (short Ability Studies): An innovative approach to catalyze a new community of practice to monitor, evaluate and address Synbio linked ability expectation challenges to how society functions: The Issue of Ability Expectation Governance"
Gregor Wolbring
Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary


"Synthetic Biology, Many Meanings, Little New, and Not Needing Sociological Response"
Steven A. Benner
Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution & the Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology 


Collage Photo Credits

Top Row, left to right

Bottom Row, left to right

  • Frankenstein’s Monster (Boris Karloff), 1934, Public Domain, Wikipedia, (cropped)
  • Communities of Integration, 2013, CNS photo
  • Multipart BioBrick, Registry of Standard Biological Parts,
  • Artemisia annua, 2003, Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service (cropped & changed to B & W)
  • A/CA/4/09 Swine Flu Virus, 2009, Public Domain, CDC/C. S. Goldsmith and A. Balish
  • CNS Board of Visitors Meeting, 2013, CNS photo