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Civic Science Fellow

Johns Hopkins University
Maryland, United States
Salary Not Specified
Closing date
Aug 23, 2021

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Position Type
Faculty Positions, Professional Fields, Library & Information Sciences, Public Administration & Policy, Science, Technology & Mathematics, Other Science & Technology, Social & Behavioral Sciences, Other Social & Behavioral Sciences, Political Science & International Relations
Employment Type
Full Time
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Job Details

The Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, in partnership with the Kavli Foundation invite applications for a Civic Science Fellow to focus on ethics, science, and society addressing issues in ethics of using new life sciences technologies in the development and use of neural (or brain) organoids. The appointment will be for 18 months beginning in September, 2021 and is based Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, with an annual salary of $80,000 plus benefits, and support for Fellowship-related travel.

The Civic Science Fellows program is designed to catalyze new partnerships, practices, leadership, and knowledge to advance meaningful, inclusive engagement on issues at the interface of science and society. The program brings together an interdisciplinary network of journalists, bench and social scientists, community-facing practitioners, content creators, public-interest organizations, and funders to develop evidence-based, human-centered approaches to better connect science with diverse communities. Civic science goes beyond science outreach, seeking to create equitable frameworks and relationships so people of every background are part of creating emerging science and making choices to guide it, so its power benefits all.

The Kavli Civic Science Fellowship at Johns Hopkins (JHU) will include the Fellow undertaking a project working with faculty in the JHU Kavli Neurodiscovery Institute (NDI) and the JHU Berman Institute of Bioethics, in conjunction with the Berman Institute’s iDeas Lab, focusing on ethical issues arising in the development and use of brain organoids.

Neural organoids raise numerous challenging issues around ethics, science and the public, from Frankenstein-ian connotations in the popular imagination to novel ethical issues for responsible science and public policy. Some of the potential reasons for creating and using such organoids, and the ethics and governance issues they raise were outlined and examined in a recent National Academies report, The Emerging Field of Human Neural Organoids, Transplants, and Chimeras: Science, Ethics, and Governance, available here: . As this area of science continues to emerge and the ethical issues become more pressing, it is critical to engage relevant aspects of the public. Little of that work has been done, however, leaving public perception, understanding, input and support of these technologies wholly dependent on limited communication efforts and media coverage. The newly established iDeas Lab in the Berman Institute of Bioethics proposes to bring 21st century content production and communications techniques together with the work of scientists, bioethics faculty, policymakers, and the public, to better communicate information and seek input on emerging technologies like neural organoids by engaging the public and policy makers.

The Fellowship will attempt to answer the following organizing question:

What is the pathway to responsible creation and use of neural organoids that accounts for and incorporates public perception and input of the ethics and policy implications of the technology?

The Kavli Civic Science Fellow will engage in an 18-month project to (i) work to identify which ethical and policy issues are important to the public in the research and development and proposed and potential uses of neural organoids,[1] (ii) evaluate the factors impacting public perception, understanding, and considerations of the ethical issues identified, and (iii) work with the support of the Berman Institute iDeas Lab to develop, field test, and make available content, create and carry out public-facing programs, and assess the impact and success of these efforts with the overall goal of doing publicly engaged and science-informed ethical analysis to inform the direction of this and other areas of emerging science.

We expect that the product of the 18-month project will inform work in the newly launched Berman Institute iDeas Lab and help to create a new area of focus for Johns Hopkins as we work to further develop expertise and a scholarly focus on ethics, science, and the public.

The Kavli Civic Science Fellow will be appointed in the Berman Institute of Bioethics and report directly to the Institute’s Andreas C. Dracopoulos Director, Prof. Jeffrey Kahn, with the expectation that the fellow will work closely with Prof. Kahn and other Berman Institute faculty who work on neuroethics, iDeas Lab faculty and staff (to be hired-iDeas Lab director search is currently underway), and leadership and faculty in the Johns Hopkins Kavli NDI, chiefly Prof. Dwight Bergles.

In addition, we expect that the Civic Science Fellow will engage with the relevant leadership and staff in the federal science policy community, with introductions facilitated to leadership and staff within the NIH Office of Science Policy and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The Fellow will participate in the Civic Science Fellows network of events and meetings and the Berman Institute, the NDI, and Johns Hopkins will be active participants in the host institution network.

Required Qualifications: Candidates must hold a Ph.D. or other appropriate terminal degree. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of this work, candidates must have significant training and relevant practical experience in either neuroscience or public engagement, with interest and/or experience in the complementary field.

Desired Qualifications: Desired qualifications include demonstrated skills in developing, evaluating, and implementing science communication or public engagement with science activities; demonstrated experience working in cross-disciplinary and/or multiorganizational teams including educators, scientists, social scientists, designers, and evaluators; and demonstrated experience with public deliberation and/or interfacing with policy-makers.

Application deadline is Aug. 20, 2021 with the Fellowship to begin by Sept. 14, 2021; applications should be submitted through Interfolio which is the University’s secure online search platform by clicking the "Apply Now" button and should include:

  1. A detailed cover letter that includes a description of the applicant's relevant experience and expertise (limited to 4 pages);
  2. A current Curriculum Vitae; and
  3. Contact information for three professional references (include name, title, affiliation, e-mail address, phone number).

This will include reviewing published literature and reports, as well as working with JHU researchers in an embedded ethics approach

The Johns Hopkins University is committed to equal opportunity for its faculty, staff, and students. To that end, the university does not discriminate on the basis of sex, gender, marital status, pregnancy, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status or other legally protected characteristic. The university is committed to providing qualified individuals access to all academic and employment programs, benefits and activities on the basis of demonstrated ability, performance and merit without regard to personal factors that are irrelevant to the program involved.

The successful candidate(s) for this position will be subject to a pre-employment background check.

If you are interested in applying for employment with The Johns Hopkins University and require special assistance or accommodation during any part of the pre-employment process, please contact the HR Business Services Office at For TTY users, call via Maryland Relay or dial 711.

The following additional provisions may apply depending on which campus you will work. Your recruiter will advise accordingly.

During the Influenza ("the flu") season, as a condition of employment, The Johns Hopkins Institutions require all employees who provide ongoing services to patients or work in patient care or clinical care areas to have an annual influenza vaccination or possess an approved medical or religious exception. Failure to meet this requirement may result in termination of employment.

The pre-employment physical for positions in clinical areas, laboratories, working with research subjects, or involving community contact requires documentation of immune status against Rubella (German measles), Rubeola (Measles), Mumps, Varicella (chickenpox), Hepatitis B and documentation of having received the Tdap (Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) vaccination. This may include documentation of having two (2) MMR vaccines; two (2) Varicella vaccines; or antibody status to these diseases from laboratory testing. Blood tests for immunities to these diseases are ordinarily included in the pre-employment physical exam except for those employees who provide results of blood tests or immunization documentation from their own health care providers. Any vaccinations required for these diseases will be given at no cost in our Occupational Health office.

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