By building a unique interdisciplinary program that aims at transparency and inclusion of diverse perspectives in long-term, rigorous dialogue, NC State, through the creative visions of Dr. Jennifer Kuzma and Dr. Fred Gould, will have a global impact on the design and development of genetically engineered organisms. By combining expertise in biological sciences, social sciences and the humanities, we will help citizens and policymakers make informed decisions by giving them information developed through detailed research and thorough deliberation.

Other goals of the center are to increase the research being done in these academic areas on NC State’ campus, to partner with industry partners doing research so that the GES Center will be the destination for anyone who is interested in the science, policy, history, market or business or environmental and health impacts of genetic engineering.


Research Leaders

Dr. Jennifer Kuzma

Jennifer Kuzma

Jennifer Kuzma is the Goodnight-NCGSK Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Public and International Affairs, and co-director of the Genetic Engineering and Society Center, at NC State University.  Prior to this, she was associate professor of science and technology policy at the University of Minnesota (2003-2013); study director at the U.S. National Academies of Science (NAS) (1999-2003); and an AAAS Risk Policy Fellow at the USDA (1997-1999). She has over 100 scholarly publications on emerging technologies and governance and has been studying this area for over 25 years.   Kuzma currently serves on several national and international advisory boards, including the World Economic Forum’s Global Futures Council on Technology, Values, and Policy and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences Committee on Preparing for Future Biotechnology.  

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She has held several other leadership positions, including the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) Council Member and Secretary, Chair of the Gordon Conference on Science & Technology Policy, Member of the US FDA Blood Products Advisory Committee, and a Member of the UN WHO-FAO Expert Group for Nanotechnologies in Food and Agriculture. In 2014, she received the SRA Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer Award for recognition of her outstanding contributions to the field of risk analysis and in 2017-2018 she was awarded the Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Science Policy at the University of Ottawa.  She is cited and interviewed frequently in the media for her expertise in biotechnology policy, including the New York Times, Science, Nature, NPR, Washington Post, Scientific American, The Boston Globe, PBS Nova, Wired, and ABC & NBC News.

Her research focuses on governance systems for emerging technologies, particularly genetic engineering for environmental, agricultural, health and industrial applications. Currently, emerging technologies are moving at a rapid pace, but often societal responses lag behind. Understanding the social-ecological-technological systems and the underlying dynamics can help to guide decisions-makers and the public towards better governance models. With these goals in mind, she explores the values, organizations, and outcomes associated with existing oversight systems in order to inform future policy-making. Her work draws on developing methods for integrating multiple disciplines in a policy sciences approach. It is also translational, striving to engage and serve stakeholders and citizens who come from a variety of perspectives and expertise areas. As such, she and colleague Professor Fred Gould founded the Genetic Engineering and Society Center to help support bi-directional learning and communication among academe and public and private organizations.

Jennifer earned her B.A. with high honors from the College of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN in Chemistry and Biology and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She went on to become a Life Science Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Plant Molecular Biology at The Rockefeller University in New York. Prior to moving into public policy and social science in 1997, from 1986 to 1997, she was a natural scientist doing research in microbiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology. She holds a patent for the discovery of bacterial isoprene emission from her Ph.D. work in biochemistry, and her postdoctoral work in plant molecular biology resulted in a publication in the journal Science. Learn more about Dr. Jennifer Kuzma.

Dr. Fred Gould

Fred GouldDr. Fred Gould, co-director of the center, is a University Distinguished Professor of Evolutionary Biology in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, who has done cutting-edge research in the area of ecology and evolutionary biology. An elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, Gould studies the ecology and genetics of insect pests to improve food production and human and environmental health. Dr. Gould was the Chair of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) groundbreaking study on  Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects, which reevaluated and compiled all available research on GE crop safety.

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He serves on the NAS committee on “Public Interfaces of the Life Sciences.” He also serves on the National Research Council Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources. One of his research projects involves genetically modified mosquitoes that have reduced capacity to carry and spread dengue fever. He has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, among others, for his work.Gould participated in policy development for transgenic crops at the national and international level. He sees a need to develop more inclusive and transparent approaches for building, assessing and regulating transgenic pests. Gould has authored or co-authored more than 160 refereed publications. He has been invited to present papers at numerous conferences, symposia and seminars.

In 2007, he won the George Bugliarello Prize from Sigma Xi for his article on genetic manipulation of pests for control of human disease vectors. In 2004, Gould received the Alexander von Humboldt Award, which is presented annually to the person judged to have made the most significant contribution to American agriculture during the previous five years.

In 2011, Gould received NC State’s Holladay Medal, the university’s highest award for faculty achievement. Gould has served on National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council committees to study the environmental effects of the commercialization of genetically modified plants and develop recommendations on genetically modified pest-protected crops. He has also served on Environmental Protection Agency panels on genetically modified crops. Gould is a member of the Entomological Society of America, the Society for the Study of Evolution and Sigma Xi.

Born in New York, Gould earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Queens College and a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He came to NC State as a research associate in 1978, was named full professor in 1990, and was named Reynolds Professor in 1993. Gould was the 10th faculty member from NC State to win the O. Max Gardner Award since 1996.

Learn more about Dr. Fred Gould on his faculty page. To find out about his research, go to his lab website.

Dr. Todd Kuiken

Dr. Todd KuikenDr. Todd Kuiken joined the Genetic Engineering and Society Center as a Senior Research Scholar in August 2016. He previously was the principal investigator on the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Synthetic Biology Project, where he had numerous projects evaluating and designing new research and governance strategies to proactively address the biosafety, biosecurity and environmental risks associated with synthetic biology and genetic engineering.

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Todd received a BS in Environmental Management & Technology from RIT, an MA in Environmental Resource Policy from George Washington University and a Ph.D. in Environmental Science from Tennessee Tech University. He conducts research at the intersections of technology and society where he explores the scientific and technological frontier, stimulating discovery and bringing new tools to bear on public policy challenges that emerge as science advances, with a particular focus on the environmental and biosecurity impacts.

In September 2016 he received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to facilitate interactions between the emerging ‘makers in biology’ ecosystem and formal regulatory institutions to ensure safe, responsible innovation. He is a member of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Ad-Hoc Technical Expert Group on Synthetic Biology.  He is an executive member of the human practices committee at the International Genetically Engineered Machines competition and a founding member of its biosafety/biosecurity committee. In addition, he is collaborating with DIYbio.org on a project to ensure safety within the rapidly expanding community of amateur biologists and the growing network of community laboratories. The initiative is analyzing and developing programs around the potential biosafety and biosecurity threats associated with such a diffuse community. Learn more about Dr. Todd Kuiken.

Dr. Jason Delborne

Jason DelbourneDr. Jason Delborne is Associate Professor of Science, Policy, and Society in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources in the College of Natural Resources. Jason received an A.B. in Human Biology from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the University of California, Berkeley. He joined the NCSU faculty in 2013 as part of the Genetic Engineering and Society Cluster. His research, which draws on the interdisciplinary field of Science, Technology, and Society (STS), explores highly politicized scientific controversies with particular attention to interactions among policymakers, scientists, and the public.

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In particular, he investigates how communities, stakeholders, and publics can be engaged in the governance of emerging technologies. One current project, including collaborators from the natural sciences and the EPA, investigates how communities in eastern North Carolina can engage with research and decision making regarding the application of wastewater to forested lands as an alternative to standard municipal wastewater treatment systems.

As a member of the GES cluster faculty and executive committee, much of Jason’s research and teaching relate to genetic engineering. He leads a collaborative NSF grant to study the genetically modified American chestnut tree, potentially the first GMO designed to persist and spread in the environment with the restoration of a species as its goal. He is also serving as lead editor for a special issue of the Journal of Responsible Innovation that will focus on research and governance needs for gene drive technologies, a project that emerged from an NSF workshop grant led by the GES Center Co-Directors. Relatedly, Jason served on a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committee on gene drive research, which released its report in June 2016 (Gene Drives on the Horizon). In terms of teaching and mentoring, Jason advises two Ph.D. students in the GES IGERT program, serves on several Ph.D. committees for other GES students, co-directs the GES graduate minor program, and teaches a required class in that curriculum, “Emerging Technologies and Society” (GES 508). Learn out more about Dr. Jason Delborne.

Dr. Zachary Brown

brownDr. Zachary Brown serves as an Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. He will also teach and advise students in the NSF-funded Ph.D. minor program in Genetic Engineering and Society. At NC State, Brown’s research focuses on the interactions between economic and biological systems, including the implications of biotechnology innovation in economic development.

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From 2011 to 2013, Brown served as an economist at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, France. At OECD he conducted policy analysis in the Environment Directorate, guiding a project examining the implications of behavioral economics for environmental policy, and overseeing the analysis of a household survey focused on the household consumption patterns and environmental attitudes. He received his Ph.D. in 2011 from Duke University. Advised by Randall Kramer, Zack authored a dissertation examining the economics of malaria control programs in Africa. For this work, he was awarded the 2009 Peccei Prize from the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna, Austria and the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association’s 2012 Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award. Brown has published peer-reviewed articles in publications such as Environmental Science & Policy, the Journal of Economic Entomology, and Energy Economics. In 2011 the American Journal of Agricultural Economics awarded Brown and coauthor Marc Bellemare its “Outstanding Article” award. Zack has also served as a postdoctoral research associate at the Duke Global Health Institute. Learn more about Dr. Zachary Brown.


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