Summer Internship for Native Americans in Genomics is now accepting applications for our 2014 program to be held at the University of Texas June 1-7, and co-hosted by the Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois. This follows on the heels of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) meeting here in Austin. Undergrads, grads, and Native American community members are eligible to apply for this program. SING involves five days of wet lab, dry lab, and biomedical ethics curricula focused on genomics involving indigenous people. This is a program for people interested in both the science and the ethics, and who are coming in at different levels and with different educational backgrounds.
I've been remiss in blogging this summer in large part because I've been traveling around the country working on a new research project, "Indigenous Scientists and Cultures of Expertise and Tradition." I'm interviewing Native American bio-scientists, including graduate students, their non-Native collaborators, and other non-Native scientists who work in collaborative research with tribal and other indigenous communities. My hypothesis is that such individuals work in ways that may help democratize scientific research practices, in part by asking more diverse research questions that serve not only the needs of non-Native scientists and scientific institutions but also or primarily the intellectual and community developments needs of indigenous communities. I am also interested to see if such individuals come to influence the take-up of science and technology in tribal governance. If all goes well this year, in the next two years I'll interview scientists in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. I'll present early findings at the American Anthropological Association's annual meeting in Montreal in November, where, by the way, my entire panel will be populated by Native American tribal citizens.
I also want to note a fantastic workshop I attended in July at the University of Illinois Institute for Genomic Biology. The Summer Internship for Native Americans in Genomics (SING) brought together established Native American scientists, graduate students in the bio- and social sciences, and community members from tribal and First Nations communities around the U.S. and Canada for one week of lectures, wet and dry lab training, and hands-on activities in ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) of genetic research. The ELSI activities were integral to the program and not simply tacked on as an afterthought to the "real" scientific training, as is too often the case. Students and faculty alike participated in vibrant discussions and role-playing in ways that also expanded the definition of "ethics" to include the idea that indigenous peoples are more than just potential research subjects who participate or resist accordingly. They can also be scientists. They are, of course, regulators, and tribal sovereignty in all of this is key. But they can also be funders of and investors in genetic research, thus shaping the questions that get asked; the methods that are used; and influencing whose institutions, communities, human resources, and economies get developed in research. The Navajo Times has just published an article on the workshop. I'll post a link here when when it's available online.
I did interviews in Minneapolis week before last. Boston is my next stop. Time to get up and out of this Janesville, Wisconsin Motel 6 and hit the road. I hope i can find some good coffee.
The SING Workshop is now accepting applications from Native American, Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native, or Canadian First Nation applicants (all expenses paid for those who are accepted). See http://www.igb.illinois.edu/conference/sing for complete instructions as well as information on the curriculum, advisory board members [I am one], and sponsors. According to the website, the goals of the program are as follows:
Go to http://go.illinois.edu/SINGworkshop to sign up for the mailing list. Applications open in January. Scholarships will be available. There will be both scientific instruction as well as advising in social and ethical implications of genome research.
is associate professor in the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta. I tweet about science, technology, environment, indigenous cultures, and governance @ http://twitter.com/KimTallBear. Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org