Alexandra Levitt

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"I am a rising senior at Duke University, pursuing a self-designed major entitled “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Modern Science.” Most relevant to my position as a HASTAC scholar is my specific interest in the intersection of genomics and society: how the public perceives and processes genomic information, and its place in popular culture and imagination. It is becoming increasingly likely that most people will deal with some form of genetic information during their lifetime, most likely in a healthcare setting. How can we create genomically literate citizens capable of dealing with this information? My senior thesis project directly relates to this problem. I spent this past summer working at Science magazine on an online science education project designed to adapt primary literature for undergraduate and high school classrooms. Continuing with this work, I hope that by exposing students to the nature of the scientific process and knowledge in this manner, the resource would help to address misconceptions of simplicity and genetic determinism, better preparing students to engage with genetic data they encounter. A major component of this resource is its online nature, which can be used to connect students to a scientific concept through time and space, emphasizing the importance of collaboration within the scientific enterprise.
In addition to questions of genomics, I am interested in the history and philosophy of science in general. I believe that taking an interdisciplinary approach is really the best –and only—way to fully appreciate and understand this enterprise, as well as our best hope for advancing it."

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