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Director's Letter

By Shobita Parthasarathy

Happy Fall! As we begin a new academic year, I am excited to share many new developments here in the STPP program. In April, we released What’s in the Chatterbox? Large Language Models, Why They Matter, and What We Should Do About Them, the third report from our Technology Assessment Project. Our research, funded by the Sloan Foundation, finds that while there is great potential for these machine learning algorithms to benefit society, they likely could reinforce inequalities, tax the environment, and place still more power in the hands of tech giants. I also did a Q&A with Nature about how these technologies may transform scientific practice.

Our Community Partnerships Initiative is growing! Since partnerships coordinator Kristin Burgard joined our team in January, we have established partnerships with several advocacy organizations, including Detroit Disability Power, We the People Michigan, and the Michigan Collaborative to End Mass Incarceration. In addition, we recently released a memo about community and policy considerations related to ShotSpotter and other acoustic gunshot detection systems, written by STPP and MPP student Jillian Mammino, who recently started a new job at the U.S. Department of State.

Meanwhile, I am honored to serve on two committees for the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. The first aims to develop a governance framework for emerging science, technology, and innovation that centers on equity. The second is developing a reference manual for federal judges, summarizing what they need to know about science and technology to perform their duties.

Our fall event with Kade Crockford of ACLU Massachusetts will be in-person in Weill Hall and streamed online, free to watch anywhere. On Monday, October 3rd from 4-5:00 pm, Crockford will have a conversation with STPP Managing Director Molly Kleinman about technology, surveillance, and civil liberties. We hope you’ll join us!

STPP Community Partnerships
Featured Partner: Detroit Disability Power
The mission of Detroit Disability Power (DDP) is to leverage and build the organizing and political power of the disability community to ensure the full inclusion of people with disabilities in Metro Detroit. STPP is proud to partner with DDP on projects dealing with accessible voting technology, algorithmic bias in hiring, and inclusion of people with disabilities in climate resilience and emergency preparedness planning.
Group photo in front of a colorful mural, fists raised, holding a banner that says "Interdependence is survival - Naomi Ortiz. Disability Justice IS Racial Justice IS Environmental Justice"
Student Research Corps
To support our growing Community Partnerships Initiative, we have launched a Student Research Corps where STPP students from across campus can participate in applied, project-based work that supports the needs of our partner organizations. Learn more about the Student Research Corps.
Upcoming Events
STPP Lecture Series

A conversation with Kade Crockford about technology, surveillance, and civil liberties

October 3, 2022
4:00 - 5:00 pm
Betty Ford Auditorium

And Live Streamed 
Join STPP for a discussion on technology, surveillance, and civil liberties with Kade Crockford, director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts.
New Research
What’s in the Chatterbox? 
Large Language Models, Why They Matter, and What We Should Do About Them

In STPP's most recent Technology Assessment Project report, we analyze the social, ethical, and equity implications of large language models—machine learning algorithms that can recognize, predict, and generate human languages on the basis of very large text-based data sets.
STPP in the Field
STPP Students Write Policy Brief for NSPN Competition
Organized by the InSPIRE student group, STPP students Natasha Dacic (Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering Ph.D. Candidate), Christina Del Greco (Genetics and Genomics Ph.D. Candidate), Natalia Harris (Biological Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate), Kelsey Kochan (Pharmacology Ph.D. Candidate), and Elena Levi-D’Ancona (Immunology Ph.D. Candidate) wrote about combating barriers to abortion in the U.S. for the National Science Policy Network memo competition.  
STPP Student Zachary Quirk Appointed JSPG Associate Editor
Zachary Quirk (Earth and Environmental Science Ph.D. Candidate, STPP Certificate Student), was recently appointed as a new Associate Editor of the Journal of Science Policy and Governance. He joins recent STPP graduate Jason Albert (Pharmaceutical Sciences Ph.D. '22, STPP Certificate '20).

Quirk is a National Science Foundation Fellow and PhD Candidate in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at U-M. His research focuses on leaf trait evolution and plasticity in living and fossil monocot flowering plants.
STPP Student Zack Sluzala Interns at Heritage Foundation
Zack Sluzala, (Neuroscience Ph.D. Candidate, STPP Certificate Student) took a leave of absence from U-M to complete a health policy fellowship with the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. and wrote an essay about the experience.
STPP in the News

STPP Director Shobita Parthasarathy Nature Q&A
In an interview with Nature magazine, STPP Director Shobita Parthasarathy warned that software designed to summarize, translate and write like humans might exacerbate distrust in science.
STPP Featured in State & Hill 
STPP was featured prominently in the Ford School's Spring 2022 State & Hill issue on science, technology, and policy. Read articles about the history of the STPP program, science and technology policy research happening at the Ford School, and the experiences of Ford and STPP students who attended the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow.
STPP Community News
Alumni News
Alex Kate Halvey (Materials Science and Engineering Ph.D. '22) is a Congressional Science Fellow at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, sponsored by the American Institute of Physics.

Andrew Schroeder (MPP '07) is helping to lead two organizations, WeRobotics and CrisisReady

Ricky Buch (MBA '09), Co-Founder of powertrust, just completed a startup accelerator run by Equinor and Techstars, and is now looking for investors as he raises his seed round.
Faculty Affiliate News
Assistant Professor of Public Policy Kaitlin Raimi co-authored a paper in Energy Research & Social Science on the effects of learning about carbon dioxide removal on perceptions of climate mitigation in the United States. 

H. Marshall McLuhan Collegiate Professor of Digital Media Christian Sandvig and his research group were featured in a BNN Bloomberg article. Sandvig's research recently informed a U.S. Department of Justice change in charging policy for hacking, following a Supreme Court ruling that cited his research last year. 

J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Professor of Public Policy Barry Rabe received a 2021 Distinguished Research Award from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration and the 2021 Louis Brownlow Award for the best book on public administration.

Keep In Touch with STPP

As always, we want to hear about your professional and life updates! You can find us on Twitter and LinkedIn, or email us at

Our mailing address is:
Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
University of Michigan
735 South State Street | Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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University of Michigan Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program · 735 S State St · 4204 Weill Hall · Ann Arbor, MI 48109-3091 · USA

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