We aim to develop a new, practicum-based science ethics training program which will be particularly appropriate for the diverse, practically oriented student population at the University of Houston. This project, "Experiencing Ethics", is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Click here to read more about this effort.


I. Pavlidis, A.M. Petersen, and I. Semendeferi published an article in the October 2014 issue of Nature Physics. The article, entitled "Together We Stand", articulates policies that will harmonize academic structure, function, and ethics in the team science era. This harmonization involves rethinking graduate education and research. More information can be found here. This paper has received press coverage.


Atypical Combinations and Scientific Impact

Professor Brian Uzzi

Dec 8, 2014
11:00 A.M. - 12:30 P.M.
232 Philip G. Hoffman Hall

Often purported but rarely tested is the claim that science is spurred on when atypical ideas are united, inspiring fresh thinking to problems. Yet, many scientific ideas and innovations intentionally build in convention, rather than remove it. Here, we analyzed all 17.9 million research papers in the web of science, circa 1945–2005 using a methodology that characterizes each paper’s conventional and novel combinations of prior work. We find that the premium often expressed for papers with novelty is at odds with the reality that most scientific work typically draws on highly conventional, familiar mixtures of knowledge. Especially virtuous combinations are not characterized by novelty or conventionality alone. Rather, the highest impact papers interject novelty into otherwise unusually conventional combinations of prior work, and remarkably, are twice as likely to top the citation distribution. Finally, teams are more likely than solo scientists to interject novel combinations into their papers, suggesting that the exceptionalism of teams is an ability to incorporate novelty. Finally, these empirical regularities are largely universal, appearing across fields and decades, suggesting fundamental rules about creativity in science. At root, our work suggests that creativity in science appears to be a phenomenon of two extremes. At one extreme is conventionality and at the other is novelty. Curiously, advancing to the frontier of science appears best served not by efforts along one boundary or the other but with efforts that reach toward both frontiers. Read more...

  • Featured Blog

    Ethical Considerations of Genome Sequencing

    By Sudad Kazzaz | November 19, 2014

    Over the last two decade, the field of genomics has advanced tremendously due to the improvement of DNA sequencing technology. The first DNA sequence took fifteen years and three billion dollars to produce, while nowadays a sequence can be obtained in four days for less than $1000. Traditionally, medical research has aimed to provide “one size fits all” drugs that are able to treat any person. However, complex diseases such as cancer have shown that such methods can have significant downsides, and that personalized treatments are needed. Read more ...

  • Featured Blog

    The Power of Neuroscience

    By Sonia Jiwani | December 8, 2013

    The brain is the most complex organ in our bodies. It consists of millions of inter connected neurons that work together to give us our personalities, motivations, memories, etc. The brain is capable of things beyond our imagination; we have just started to see what it might be capable of doing. However, the complexity of the brain also makes it a very difficult organ to study because we are still unaware of all of its functions. As scientists, we have to be extremely careful about how we deal with the brain and what advances we make public because any wrong decision could become detrimental and costly for the human race. Read more ...

  • Featured Blog

    Ethical authorship: Dilemmas and practices in medicine

    By Shyam Panthi | December 12, 2013

    “Publish or Perish” has become a norm in the academia these days. Not only that, to enter the academia itself, one needs to show a list of publications before he is even considered for a post. Whether a person with higher quantity or quality gets an academic post all relies on the mindset of the committee who decides on who gets the job. After getting an academic post say an assistant professorship, that person has to prove himself again to get in the higher ladders of the academia. For all of this, from the very beginning of getting to a job, to reaching and surviving at one peak level like a tenureship requires ‘publications’. Read more ...

  • Featured Blog

    Cyborg Cockroaches Create Controversy

    By Jakaria Mostafa | December 12, 2013

    Researchers from North Carolina State University have recently developed a wireless biological remote sensing interface that would let you control the movement of your very own cockroach, or let’s say “Robo-roach”! Dr. Alper Bozkurt, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and his project team came up with a device which put the cockroaches into autopilot mode after mounting a small computer chip on the roach’s back and implanting electrodes to its antennae. Using a remote control, Bozkurt and his colleagues can direct the Madagascar hissing cockroaches where to crawl. Read more ...

  • Featured Blog

    The "Monster study

    By Rahul Goel | December 8, 2013

    What causes stuttering? Is it because of the genetics or is it a learned behavior? Dr. Wendell Johnson, a strong proponent of general semantics and a professor at University of Iowa in 1930s was one of the most influential speech pathologists in his area. He was a very popular professor in his university, he himself used to stutter and he strongly believed that it is a learned behavior influenced by the environment, for example parent’s criticism of their child’s slightest of stammering. He himself tried hard to overcome his stuttering while he was young using contemporary speech therapy and chiropractic available at that time, but failed. Read more ...

  • Featured Blog

    Ethical Concerns about direct to consumer genetic testing

    By Kristen Bowles | December 8, 2013

    Advances in science and technology are typically met with excitement by public. Scientific advancements making genetic testing more affordable and mainstream have proven to be no different. Genetic testing will ultimately be integrated into the medical field as the promise of personalized medicine comes to fruition, and I for one, believe this is a great advancement! However, as with any great scientific advancement we, the scientific community, have the ethical duty to inform the public of the realistic short comings and the unknowns of such advancements. Read more ...

  • Featured Blog

    The Golden Rule

    By Lauren Gulley | December 8, 2013

    From a very young age most people are taught some form or version of the “Golden Rule”, essentially that one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. This code to live by has been pressed upon me through my parents and relatives, religion, and schoolteachers throughout my life. The Golden Rule serves as an ethical code for everyday living. It suggests that the relationship between you and other people is a reciprocal and equal relationship; both parties are responsible for their treatment of the other. Similar to this is the concept of karma, cause and effect – you get what you deserve. If you treat others poorly it will come back to you, and the same if you treat others nicely. Read more ...

  • Featured Blog

    The mysterious case of Little Albert

    By Madhumitha Mahadevan | November 17, 2013

    Can humans also be conditioned just like the dog in Ivan Pavlov’s experiments? Intuitively, it looks like humans can be conditioned, but nothing much was known about the same until behaviorist John B Watson’s infamous ridiculously ‘novel’ experiment on a human infant!

    The “Little Albert” experiment is a famous experiment conducted by John B Watson and his graduate student Rosalie Rayner, which set the platform for behaviorism in the field of psychology. Watson proposed that the human psychology can be explained by the process of classical conditioning. Read more ...

  • Featured Blog

    By | December , 2013

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Featured Course

Ethics in Science (Fall 2014)

The course focuses on historical perspectives and current practices of ethics and professional responsibility in science. It includes a practicum component in a science or medical lab.

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