Publications

Recent work

When all research is dual use

It is a time for a change in the way we understand the relationship between science, security, and society. In my recent piece in Issues in Science and Technology, I argue that we need systemic modifications to our biosecurity governance system, and that the new National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology is a good venue to instigate those changes. For most of the last century, the science and policy community… Read More »When all research is dual use

ACS Synbio 11(2)

Making Security Viral: Shifting Engineering Biology Culture and Publishing

The ability to construct, synthesize, and edit genes and genomes at scale and with speed enables, in synergy with other tools of engineering biology, breakthrough applications with far-reaching implications for society. As SARS-CoV-2 spread around the world in early spring of 2020, researchers rapidly mobilized, using these tools in the development of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines for COVID-19. The sharing of knowledge was crucial to making rapid progress. Several publications… Read More »Making Security Viral: Shifting Engineering Biology Culture and Publishing

iGEM and Gene Drives: A Case Study for Governance

Less than a year after the first published paper on CRISPR-CAS9 gene drives, an undergraduate team in the international Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition were trying to create one for their project. While we within the iGEM Safety and Security Committee were caught off-guard by the project, our adaptive safety and security system enabled us to iterate a governance procedure and reflect on the larger changes other organizations might consider… Read More »iGEM and Gene Drives: A Case Study for Governance

Stakeholder Engagement Workshop on the Implementation of the United States Government Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern: Workshop Report

This report documents the discussions of the 2017 Stakeholder Engagement Workshop on the Implementation of the United States Government Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern. It is not an official record of the Stakeholder Engagement Workshop. It was compiled to assist the research and policy communities as they consider updating U.S. Government (USG) policies on Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC). Neither the National… Read More »Stakeholder Engagement Workshop on the Implementation of the United States Government Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern: Workshop Report

Embrace Experimentation in Biosecurity Governance

One of the biggest lessons we can learn from the current pandemic is the need to learn lessons without a pandemic. We can do that by taking a more experimental approach to biosecurity.

Comment for the Department of Commerce ANPRM on “Review of Controls on Certain Emerging Technologies”

This is a copy of my comment for the Department of Commerce ANPRM on “Review of Controls on Certain Emerging Technologies”. Read more about why Commerce asked for comments on how they govern security concerns in emerging technologies, and why it’s important. Download this comment as a PDF. You can also find this comment in the official docket for the ANPRM. 10 January 2019 Matthew S. Borman Deputy Assistant Secretary… Read More »Comment for the Department of Commerce ANPRM on “Review of Controls on Certain Emerging Technologies”

Anomaly handling and the politics of gene drives

Back in 2015, Megan Palmer and I agreed to write a paper as part of an NSF grant on Gene Drives: A Deliberative Workshop to Develop Frameworks for Research and Governance. Over many iterations, we whittled down our ideas to expounding on the different ways groups have been debating what a gene drive is, and how that definition relates to how gene drives should be regulated. The result is this article… Read More »Anomaly handling and the politics of gene drives

Knowledge and Security

The new Handbook of Science and Technology Studies is now available, and I was lucky enough to work with a set of colleagues on a chapter about “Knowledge and Security”. This chapter discusses the STS contributions to security studies. The literature that comprises this chapter is grouped around four main themes and questions: 1. Imagining security: the scope, boundaries, and discourse of security; 2.Knowledge, non-knowledge, secrecy, and ignorance; 3.Knowing citizens:… Read More »Knowledge and Security

Biosecurity Governance for the Real World

Current efforts to limit the dissemination of dual-use biological research results are rooted in simplistic understandings of how such knowledge becomes dangerous. I argue in an article appearing in the Fall 2016 Issues in Science and Technology that it’s time for a new approach. Read the full preprint. With little fanfare, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine set up a committee earlier this year on Dual Use Research of Concern: Options for… Read More »Biosecurity Governance for the Real World

Book chapter on ‘Taking Care’ in synthetic biology

Synthetic biology, from its early stages of development, has had an explicit focus on biosafety and biosecurity concerns. These concerns are being identified and addressed in different ways, including strategies that ‘take care of’ them by getting them off the mind, and approaches that attend to and ‘care for’ concerns in more open-ended ways. In this chapter, we look at the shaping of concerns and non-concerns relating to biosafety and… Read More »Book chapter on ‘Taking Care’ in synthetic biology