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Elias Oziolor, '12

Graduate Student at Baylor University

1) What are you doing now?

Right now I am starting my second year in a PhD program earning a degree in the field of Evolutionary Toxicology at Baylor University graduate school in Waco, TX.

2) How do issues of ethics and values enter into your professional role?

Ethical issues are a substantial motivation for my research and a driver for the funding of toxicology. As I am studying the impacts of legacy and emerging pollutants on populations of aquatic organisms, I am faced with the task of evaluating the risks and hazards of pollution in affecting the environment in the most subtle of ways. In my field I am often faced with the task to determine "acceptable" levels of pollution and that leads to the unending balance between industrial productivity and impacts of industrial waste on the environment. Is it ethical to cause slight disturbance if we know the ecosystem is not going to collapse? Do we know whether the impacts of that disturbance are not going to accumulate over time and cause catastrophic levels of contamination? Those are just some of the many important ethical questions that motivate my research direct my interests.

3) What societal ethics issues are most important for us to address and why?

As I am getting more involved in the emerging genetics and genomics fields, I become convinced that an important social issue that we are going to encounter very soon is the way we deal with the increasing availability of whole genome data. We are getting closer to being able to sequence our individual genomes and determine whether we are "prone" to diseases at a very cheap price. On the other hand, having that information at hand may change the way we lead our lives substantially and that is why I think this access to such scientific achievements should be very well discussed before it becomes publicly accessible.

4) Is there any advice you would give to current students?

There is one thing I heard from DePauw alumni that I never truly believed until very recently: "DePauw prepares you so well for further education!". Being through my first year in graduate school, I can only be thankful for my diverse and thorough education and experiences at DePauw. To any current student I can only say this: Make use of all the incredible resources that DePauw has to offer. Visit events, talk to your professors, visit the Prindle Institute because every one of those will give you that little bit of experience that may one day be of use to you. Never doubt that you are getting a great education and exposure to a variety concepts at DePauw!