Introducing the Geoscience & Ethics Series

By Kevin Shionalyn, PhD 2026

What are the broader impacts of your research? What should be the role of diversity in university admissions? What responsibility does a scientist have to communicate their work to the broader public? How should publication authorship be determined?

Intro: As physical scientists, we in the Jackson School face many ethical questions at almost every step of our research journey. While hard science is often our driving factor and motivation, it is nearly impossible to separate our research from the society in which we live. With this outlook in mind, the Science, Y’all! editorial team is proud to present Geoscience & Ethics, a new series that looks into these questions and others at the intersection of science and society.

The goal of Geoscience & Ethics is to consider various ethical issues faced by geoscientists, share a variety of viewpoints on these issues, and explore their impact on society. While this is a new series for our blog, it is easy to connect many of our previous posts to this subcategory, including: Experiences of Pregnancy in the Field of Geoscience (upcoming),  Accessible and Accessorized: Tips for Affordable Field Work, and #ShutDownSTEM #Strike4BlackLives #BlackLivesMatter Jackson School of Geosciences Edition.

Inception: The idea behind Geoscience & Ethics began last spring in the Broader Impacts course taught by Jackson School Writer in Residence Adam Papendieck. During the course, Adam and his students designed a Science and Society Writing Program. The program was setup for scientists to write about and publish articles on ethical issues while carefully considering the possible career impacts of publishing their views on controversial topics. After the course ended, Adam approached the Science, Y’all! team about continuing this program – a discussion that ultimately led to the creation of Geoscience & Ethics.

Your Contributions: Contributing to Geoscience & Ethics will be similar to other contributions to Science, Y’all! – just flag the “Geoscience & Ethics” flag on our contribution form. If a submission is of a possibly controversial nature, a JSG faculty internal advisor will review the post along with the Science, Y’all! editorial team and the contributor before publication.

Possible Topics: Here is a non-exhaustive list to get you started thinking about possible topics to publish in Geoscience & Ethics:

  • Ethical sampling
  • Indigenous land use and statements
  • Diversity and inclusion in the university setting
  • Field work and accessibility
  • Removing biases from biased data collection
  • Machine Learning: ChatGPT, plagiarism, and original content
  • Climate change, energy, and working in the geosciences
  • Collective action: student activism, strikes, and unions
  • Power imbalances and mentorship in graduate school
  • Authorship practices and problems
  • Frontier exploration, data collection, and geopolitics: the poles, space, and beyond
  • Broader impacts and participatory science
A screen shot of a user asking ChatGPT to "design a photo for a "Geoscience & Ethics" blog series, with ChatGPT response.
A screenshot of the Science, Y’all! chief editor using ChatGPT when stuck for creative ideas. Have you used Chat GPT in your research? How is it transforming learning, teaching, and research?