Every so often, you get a really fun opportunity to interact with experts in a field at a casual level. I've had the pleasure of having several of these random moments, and one of my first involved neuroethics, an article by Danniell Dennett, the 2005 National Undergraduate Bioethics Conference, and some professor by the name of Paul Root Wolpe. Of course, it wasn't until later that I realized precisely who Dr. Wolpe was, at which point I promptly suffered from extreme mortification at my casual level of arguing - but I think that's half the fun of those hindsight situations.
I had the privilege of getting to know and occasionally work with Dr. Wolpe after that first random meeting, and my impression of him hasn't changed. He's extremely fun to talk to about a wide range of subjects, still has the coolest job title in bioethics (Chief Bioethicist of NASA!), and recently became the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Bioethics and Director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University. And maybe most importantly, Dr. Wolpe will still take the time to sit down and chat with someone interested in the field, even if they're a young and nervous undergraduate with more chutzpah than common sense.
Today, you don't need a random encounter to interact with Dr. Wolpe. He's hosting USA Today's Faith and Reason Forum, and will be popping online through-out the day to answer questions about all sorts of bioethical issues. The topic they're starting out with is predictable: a discussion of Nadya Suleman's decision to carry octuplets to term, and the wide range of ethical implications behind that decision.
So if you have time, pop on over and join the discussion. It's bound to be entertaining and educational.
And if you are lucky enough to live near the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, check out Dr. Wolpe's lecture on "Bioethics in Space: Thorny Ethical Issues at NASA". It's on April 29th, hosted by the UMBC Bioethics Student Association (led by our very own intrepid Dr. Andrea Kalfoglou), and directions and other details are on the website. But if you can say "bioethics in space" without hearing Muppets, you're a better person than me.