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Rebecca Wilbanks

Rebecca Wilbanks

Postdoctoral Fellow, Johns Hopkins University


Rebecca Wilbanks received her PhD in 2017 from Stanford’s Program in Modern Thought and Literature, and holds a BA summa cum laude in comparative literature and biological sciences from Cornell University. She is currently a Hecht-Levi postdoctoral fellow at the Berman Institute of Bioethics, and a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of the History of Medicine at Johns Hopkins. Addressing the intersection of science and culture, her work engages literary studies; science and technology studies; the history and philosophy of science, technology, and medicine; bioethics; and the environmental humanities.
Her current book project, “Life’s Imagined Futures,” explores the speculative science and speculative fiction of synthetic biology. Rebecca is also part of the Center for Bridging Infectious Disease, Genomics, and Society (BRIDGES) at Johns Hopkins, where she is interested in genetic modification as a tool to fight infectious disease, as in the case of mosquitos engineered to be resistant to malaria. Should communities have a say in whether genetically modified animals are released in their neighborhoods, and if so, what processes of public consultation and engagement should be used? Rebecca's work approaches these and other thorny ethical questions of the gene editing era through cultural and historical analysis, paying close attention not only to the values that underlie public support and opposition to biotechnologies, but also to those that motivate communities of scientists and technology developers.

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From This Author


If We Made Life in a Lab, Would We Understand It Differently?

What is life? For much of the 20th century, this question did not particularly concern biologists. Life is a term for poets, not scientists, argued the synthetic biologist Andrew Ellington in 2008, who began...

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