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The Harvard Neuroethics Hub Fellowship

Neuroethics is a highly interdisciplinary, burgeoning field that breaks down traditional barriers between neuroscience, neuroengineering, law, history, philosophy, sociology, nursing, social work, psychiatry, neurology, neurosurgery, bioethics, biomedical innovation, genetics, and human rights among others, to rigorously interrogate the many implications of advances in brain science.

Harvard has a wealth of academic scholars at senior and junior levels conducting high quality work in neuroethics, and the Harvard Neuroethics Hub was formed to catalyze longitudinal interdisciplinary scholarship, teaching, and mentorship activities. This Fellowship will allow students to work closely with a mentor in neuroethics, and further career development to become thought leaders within neuroethics. 

2022-2023 Fellowship Information

Applicants must have a strong interest in neuroethics and be willing to engage in the serious academic pursuit of fulfilling the responsibilities of this fellowship. Eligibility includes a range of stages of training such as undergraduate students, graduate students, professional students, medical students, post-doctoral fellows, and training clinicians (such as psychology interns, residents, and fellows).

Responsibilities of fellows will include collaborating to organize events with an interdisciplinary and diverse panel on a particular topic in neuroethics and working on a related written publication, such as a book chapter, written proceedings, or special issue of a journal.  Fellows will collaborate with a team of mentors who are experts in the field, and who will support and guide the process.

After satisfactory completion of the fellowship year, fellows will be paid $1,200.

2022-2023 Fellows

Katherine Bassil, MSc, completed her Research Masters in Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences at Maastricht University including an internship at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. She holds a bachelor in Biology and Psychology from the Lebanese American University. Katherine is currently finalising her PhD where she investigates the role of glucocorticoids and candidate genes involved in stress susceptibility to post-traumatic stress disorder. She is an active member of the International Neuroethics Society and co-leads the IEEE Wellness workgroup working on ethical guidelines for Wellness neurotechnologies. She is the founder of “Neuroethics Today”— a neuroethics educative platform— where she raises awareness on the ethical, societal, and legal implications of neuroscience and neurotechnology to both scientists and the general public. Her initial focus on neuroethics began while investigating biomarkers for PTSD susceptibility in a Dutch military cohort and thinking through the clinical applications and future ethical implications of this technology in relation to members of law-enforcement agencies. This shapes her current interests on the implications of predictive biomarkers to shape policy, cultural inclusion in biomarker research, ethics communication, among other themes. Katherine hopes to expand her skills and training in the field of neuroethics with a focus on the neuroethics of biotechnologies, in addition to public/community outreach and engagement practices as central aspects in the design, development, and dissemination stages of research.

Kacey Fang graduated from Yale College and completed a MSc in Psychiatry at Oxford University. She is a first-year student at Harvard Medical School. As an undergraduate, she conducted structural neuroimaging research related to loneliness and depression; as a postgraduate, she studied depression and suicidal behavior among psychiatric inpatients in China; and as a Fulbright scholar, she identified gaps in refugee mental health services in Malaysia. Kacey is interested in studying mental illness stigma, culturally responsive and trauma-informed mental healthcare for refugees and immigrants, and ethical implications of neurotechnologies and biomarkers for neuropsychiatric illness.

Kelsey Ichikawa graduated from Harvard College in 2020 with a BA in Neurobiology and Philosophy, summa cum laude. Currently she is the Lab Manager for the Harvard GenderSci Lab, which develops methods, concepts, and theories for the intersectional study of gender and sex in biomedicine. Previously, she has conducted research in social neuroscience, systems neuroscience, as well as science and technology studies, and written public-facing articles about functional MRI and virtual reality. Her research projects have addressed intergroup neuroscience and its implications for moral assessments of emotions like schadenfreude, sociology of the reproducibility crisis, and biological sex essentialism in law and policy. Kelsey looks forward to engaging and collaborating with members of the Neuroethics Hub, where she hopes to investigate the discourse of risk and predisposition to “violence” in neuroscience, psychology, and sociogenomics and how that informs federal policy and healthcare surveillance on “violent extremism.” In other parts of her life, she watches sci-fi, writes poetry, and works with the Japanese American community on political organizing.

Frannie Marin (she/her), BS, graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Integrative Neuroscience. She is currently working as a Clinical Research Coordinator at the Cambridge Health Alliance Center for Mindfulness and Compassion where she oversees a study on the use of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS) as a dual intervention for migraine. She is also preparing to launch a new study in patients with depression studying the effectiveness of Heart-Smile Training, a Korean body-awareness meditation program. Frannie has prior experience in the world of health psychology studying the effect of reduced caloric intake on attention to food cues. She also spent time investigating transcutaneous direct current stimulation (tDCS) as a treatment for people recovering from alcohol and opioid use disorders. Frannie is ecstatic about the opportunities that this fellowship will provide! She hopes to investigate either the ethics of neurospirituality research (e.g., how do we study religiosity and spirituality in a way that is non-reductive and that encompasses diverse groups and experiences?) or to investigate one of the many ethical questions that come along with the rise of psychedelic treatment and research (e.g., how can we make psychedelic treatment available to all without commodifying an experience that is intrinsically idiosyncratic and is based in millennia of indigenous tradition?). Frannie also has a strong interest in science writing and communication, and she hopes to hone these skills in the context of this fellowship.

J. Tanner McMahon, MD is a 2nd year neurosurgery resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School. He obtained a B.S. in Neuroscience at NYU prior to completing his M.D. at Emory University School of Medicine. Tanner’s research experience has focused on translational and clinical aspects of neurosurgical oncology and neurocritical care. He is passionate about the intersection of these disciplines with patient-centered care and the ethical dilemmas that arise for those suffering from the extremes of neurological and neurosurgical disease. Tanner is particularly interested in investigating decision-making as it relates to the possible sacrifice of neurologic function (be it motor strength, speech, memory, or even cognition) in exchange for improved overall survival. He hopes to expand his understanding of how these functions can be best preserved during surgery, and to establish best practices for discussing these seemingly impossible decisions with patients in a shared decision-making model.

Caitlyn Tabor, JD graduated from Albany Law School and is currently enrolled in the Master of Bioethics program at Harvard Medical School. Caitlyn is a Senior Researcher at the Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior at Harvard Medical School, and is a professor of bioethics, health law, and public health policy at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University. Caitlyn has written about issues at the intersection of law, human rights, neuroscience, and ethics and hopes to explore how neuroscience can be applied to existing asylum and immigration policies to reform these policies and develop more equitable protocols during this fellowship.

Meghana Vagwala (she/her), M.S., M.ScR, is a third year medical student at Harvard Medical School. A recipient of the Angier B. Duke full merit scholarship, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Duke University. As an undergraduate student, she designed her own major in “Neuroscience, Ethics, and Anthropology” with mentorship from Professor Walter Sinnott-Armstrong. She has first authored an empirical ethics paper on cognitive enhancement with Professor Ilina Singh in Neuroethics. She has conducted anthropological fieldwork in Nepal, studying sociocultural determinants mental health stigma in Nepali medicine, and in India, studying trauma and embodiment in women with a history of domestic abuse. In 2018 she was awarded a Marshall Scholarship, and earned a M.ScR degree in Medical Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh and an M.S. degree in Global Mental Health from Kings’ College London. At Harvard Medical School, she has been involved with the Neuroethics Hub since its inception earlier in 2022 and is currently working with Dr. Rachel Asher on a peer commentary for AJOB Neuroscience on power, history, and culture-related factors mediating the experiential salience of invasiveness of psychiatric treatment. After medical school, Meghana will pursue residency in psychiatry and hopes to have a clinical career with a specialization in combined psychodynamic psychotherapy and psychopharmacological practice. As a fellow, she is interested in ethical questions around the colonial influence of Western psychiatry and how this pertains to emerging neurotechnologies as well as clinical applications of bioethics and gene-ethics to the practice of child psychiatry.

Kee Hwan Yeo is currently an LL.M. candidate at Harvard Law School, and is working on a paper evaluating recent action in state legislatures to introduce a statutory exemption from the death penalty for the severely mentally ill. She holds a B.A. in Jurisprudence from the University of Oxford, and as an undergraduate, was a volunteer with several pro bono schemes both in the UK and Singapore. She was also an intern with the State Courts and the Attorney-General’s Chambers in Singapore over the summer. Through these experiences, she has developed a deeper understanding of the endemic problems plaguing indigent defense, especially given the power imbalance between the State and the defendant in criminal cases, which drives her current interest in addressing the lack of safeguards for some of the most vulnerable defendants caught in the criminal justice system.