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In My Own Words: Caroline Santoro '19

By Caroline Santoro '19

As a member of Pingry's Journal Club, I read scientific papers on a regular basis. Near the end of many of these papers, the authors dedicate a few sentences to speculate on the ethical implications of their research. For example, in a paper I read about the possibility of head transplantations, the author devoted a mere five sentences to addressing the potential ethical dilemma of defining "personhood"—is the patient identified by his/her head or his/her body? The limited coverage of this important issue terribly disappointed me. How could the author not say more about such an intriguing idea? My experiences reading this paper and many before it kindled my passion for bioethics.

Bioethics focuses on the moral ramifications of medical and biological research. It includes age-old dilemmas like euthanasia and cloning as well as cutting-edge issues like gene editing and xenotransplantation. In a world in which the science fiction of even 10 years ago is now scientific fact, bioethics will impact our lives for many years to come. When I discovered how passionately I feel about bioethics, I knew that I could use Pingry's myriad opportunities to share my passion with others.

I looked first to Pingry's science club, fyi sci, whose mission is to make science accessible and understandable. This club seemed like a perfect vehicle to introduce the Pingry community to bioethics. The club's leader, Ally Pyne '18, welcomed my idea with open arms and gave me the opportunity to publish a bioethics column on their website. I was elated to write about and share my thoughts, and I immediately wrote my first article, which was about at-home DNA tests. I was so intrigued by my research that I even participated in 23andMe's Health & Ancestry test.

As excited as I was about my column, I wanted the people who read it to be able to contribute their own thoughts on these topics. I reached out to my English teacher, Mr. Varnes, and with his passion for philosophy and ethics, he generously agreed to advise a bioethics club. By the time Dean Ross approved my idea for the Pingry Bioethics Society, I had already planned its first meeting.

At the Club Fair in September, 73 of my classmates signed up to join me in this endeavor. The Pingry Bioethics Society will meet once a month, following the publication of my fyi sci column, and we will discuss and debate the issues raised by my articles as well as other issues of interest to the club's members. The Pingry Bioethics Society will be a great way to stimulate discussion about some of science's most compelling issues, and it will give me a chance to share my passion with my classmates and friends.

For the past two years, I have seen the wonderful opportunities Pingry provides its students, but my experience with bioethics this year has demonstrated to me how fortunate I am to attend school here. I discovered a passion, and everywhere I looked I found teachers and students supporting me and encouraging me to pursue it. Pingry has not only accommodated my interest, but it has also nurtured and grown it, and for that I am truly grateful.

Contact: Andrea Dawson, Senior Writer,