Winning Essays

From the hundreds of essays received since the start of the contest, organizers recognize the following authors for their outstanding essays submitted to the Neuroethics Essay Contest. Thanks to all the students who have entered the contest and to its generous supporters.


News & Coverage /

Top student essays on ethical issues in brain science selected in the Neuroethics Essay Contest – October 2023

Winning Neuroethics Essayists Widen the Conversation – Nicky Penttila (Dana Foundation) April 19, 2024

Awards Presentation /

Academic / Winner

‘Mental Health Advance Directives in Psychiatry: Cultivating Autonomy in Mature Pediatric Patients’
Kathryn Petrozzo, University of Utah (United States)

Kathryn Petrozzo is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Utah. Her research interests lie at the intersection of neuroscience, psychiatry, technology, and law. Primarily, she is interested in how the institutions of science, medicine, and the law interact and negatively impact marginalized groups. Kathryn is currently finishing her dissertation in which she employs philosophical tools to analyze how mental illness is conceptualized in the contexts of agency, rationality, neurobiology, and responsibility.

Academic / Honorable Mentions

‘The paradox of credibility assessments for deeply traumatized asylum seekers’
Caitlyn A. Tabor, Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics; The Neuroethics Hub at Harvard Medical School; The Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at Harvard Medical School (United States)

‘Human-Animal Chimeras: An Ethical and Regulatory Crossroads in Neuroscience and Transplantation’
Jennifer L. Brown, University of Minnesota (United States)

‘All in our heads: Cognitive biases as psychological barriers to the successful adoption and use of medical artificial intelligence’
Cindy Chenxin Zhang, University of British Columbia (Canada)

General Audience / Winner

‘Advances in Objective Measures of Pain at the Cost of the Patient’s Voice’
Jada Wiggleton-Little, Cleveland Clinic (United States)

Jada Wiggleton-Little is a neuroethics fellow at Cleveland Clinic. She graduated with her PhD in Philosophy from the University of California San Diego. She was also a Sadler Scholar with the Hastings Center and a visiting scholar with the John L. Lynch, MD Center for Ethics’ Program for Neuroethics and Clinical Consciousness. Her research interests lie in pain communication, particularly in the context of racial and gender disparities in pain management.

General Audience / Honorable Mentions

‘Exoskeletons – Wave of the Future or Bearer of False Hope?’
Jessica Marengo, Harvard Medical School (United States)

‘A blood test to predict depression’
Arish Mudra Rakshasa-Loots, The University of Edinburgh (India / South Africa / United Kingdom)

‘Taking risks without knowing it – Ethical and legal consequences of self-perception disorders in Alzheimer’s disease’
Thomas Tannou, Centre de Recherche de l’Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal (Canada)

High School / Winner

‘TDCS: The Intriguing, Uncertain Future of Direct-to-Consumer Brain Stimulation Treatments’
Abena Amoakowaa Opoku (United States)

I am a senior at Colonial Forge High School in Virginia with a keen interest in science, medicine, and research. My passion is researching disparities in medicine caused by factors including socioeconomic status and race, which drove my research on the ethics and cultural context behind self-administered transcranial direct current stimulation. I am a leader in my school’s Science National Honor Society, TED-Ed Student Talks Club, and Leo Club for community service.

High School / Honorable Mentions

‘Ethical Considerations in the Application of Nanotechnology for Brain Mapping and Understanding Neural Circuits’
Caiqi Li (United States)

‘Early-Stage Deep Brain Stimulation in Parkinson’s Disease: Balancing Therapeutic Potential and Ethical Dilemmas’
Adam Mulugeta (Canada)

Video / Honorable Mention

‘Epilepsy and stigmatization: a perspective from a low-and-middle-income country’
Abdul Karim Bah, Ministry of Health And Sanitation (Sierra Leone)


Release: Top student essays on ethical issues in brain science selected in the Neuroethics Essay Contest – September 1, 2022

Academic / Winner

Attributing sentience to organisms is not a harmless academic exercise
Katharina Dornenzweig, Universität Leipzig / Uppsala University (Germany / Sweden)

Academic / Honorable Mention

Freedom in Choice: The ethical approach to supporting individuals with neurological disabilities
Ashley Pratt, NIH/NICHD (United States)

Ethical Considerations for Artificial Intelligence Approaches to Predicting Alzheimer’s Disease in Cognitively Normal Older Adults
Younghoon Seo, Bowdoin College (Republic of Korea / United States)

On the Metaphysical and Ethical Discourse of Reproductive and Human Germline Genome Editing Technologies: A Novel Account and Addressing the Non-Identity Problem with CAFEIAT
Vishruth M. Nagam, Stony Brook University (United States / India)

General Audience / Winner

The Song of the Unconscious Brain: Ethical Aspects in Disorders of Consciousness
Spatika Jayaram, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali (India)

Spatika Jayaram profile photo
Courtesy of Spatika Jayaram

Spatika Jayaram is an incoming Felix Scholar in neuroscience at the University of Oxford. She graduated from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali, with a BS-MS degree in biology. Her MS thesis conducted at the Centre for Neuroscience, Indian Institute of Science, examined learning and memory formation in Caenorhabditis elegans. Her research interests lie in behavioural and affective neuroscience.

General Audience / Honorable Mention

Supervised Learning and Schizophrenia: The Ethical Implications of AI in Mental Disorder Diagnosis
Helena Lieu, Oregon State University (United States)

When do we cease to be alive?
Catherine Pepin, Université Laval (Canada)

High School / Winner

The Story of Aducanumab and Its Accelerated Approval: Maximizing the Freedom of Choice or Endangering the Patient’s Dignity
Ante Čolak (Croatia)

Ante Čolak profile photo
Courtesy of Ante Čolak

I am a high school senior studying at II. gimnazija in Zagreb. During my secondary education I was fascinated by exciting discoveries in the field of organic chemistry and neurobiology. Interest for neurodegenerative diseases led me to conduct a research paper which focused on assessing different treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, where I compared the efficacy of Aducanumab and symptomatic pharmacological therapies. That research paper provided me with the opportunity to attend 12th ISABS conference this summer in Dubrovnik. In my free time, I compete at various debate competitions and enjoy traveling.

High School / Honorable Mention

If You Give a Man a New Head: The Ethical Boundaries of Neurotransplantation
Benjamin Cohen (United States)

‘Neurocriminology: An Ethical Review of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Neurolaw’
Shalmali Rao (United States)

Morality versus Entropy: Can Humans Be Held Morally Responsible?
Ariya Patel (United States)


Release: Top student essays on ethical issues in brain science selected in the Neuroethics Essay Contest – September 16, 2021

Academic / Winner

Nathan Luke Higgins profile image
Courtesy of Nathan Luke Higgins

Continued access to invasive neural devices: lessons from the AIDS epidemic‘ (pdf / article)
Nathan Luke Higgins, Monash University (Australia)

Academic / Honorable Mention

Exploring the relationship of neuroethics and religion: mapping out the trajectory of Islamic perspectives on neuroethics
Noorina Noorfuad, Hamad Bin Khalifa University (Qatar)

Redefining indigenous brain health: de-centering Western science, colonialism, and normative ethics
Naryeong Kim, Stanford University (South Korea)

General Audience / Winner

Erin Morrow profile photo
Courtesy of Erin Morrow

Beyond Disinformation: Deep Fakes and False Memory Implantation‘ (pdf / article)
Erin Morrow, Emory University (United States)

General Audience / Honorable Mention

‘Minorities Left Out of Historic Alzheimer’s Treatment’
Sanjana P. Padala, Vanderbilt University (United States)

Neurotechnology Will Worsen the Socio-economic Divide if we Let It
Cody Slater, Columbia University (United States)

High School / Winner

Rafael Hiu Nok Au profile photo
Courtesy of Rafael Hiu Nok Au

Exploring the Ethical Implications of Neurotheological Studies‘ (pdf / article)
Rafael Hiu Nok Au (Hong Kong)

High School / Honorable Mention

The Rise of Neuro-Enhancing Drugs: An Ethical Quandary of Nootropics and How It Can Impact Society As We Know It
Pragya Kumar (United States)

Magic Medicine? A Multi-faceted Approach to Justifying Psychedelic Therapy
Akshara Sankar (United States)

The Neuroethics of Predictive Policing: Exploring How Human Bias Affects Predictive Policing Algorithms
Arush Adabala (United States)


Release: Top student essays on ethical issues in brain science selected in the Neuroethics Essay Contest – September 10, 2020

Academic / Winner

Sarah Zinn profile photo
Courtesy of Sarah Zinn

Obesity, Cognition, and Society: Ethical Warnings from the Sordid History of Eugenics and Scientific Racism
Sarah R. Zinn, University of Chicago (United States)

Academic / Honorable Mention

‘How Empirical Data on a Brain Death Case Informs the Conceptual Discussion Around Epistemic Injustice of African-American Patients in the U.S. Healthcare System’
Isobel Butorac, King’s College London (United Kingdom)

‘Machine Learning and Neural Signals: Potential Problems of Low Interpretability’
Asad Beck, University of Washington (United States)

‘Thoughts, Thinkers, and a Hollow Substitute for Mental Privacy’
Justin Wong, Harvard University (United States)

‘Clear and Present Danger: Neuroethical Concerns About Governmental Policy on E-Cigarette Usage Among Adolescents’
Anna Elizabeth Ulrey, University of Alabama at Birmingham (United States)

General Audience / Winner

Eddie Jacobs profile photo
Courtesy of Eddie Jacobs

What if a Pill Can Change Your Politics or Religious Beliefs?‘ Published with Scientific American (Submitted under title: ‘God, Politics, and Death: How a New Medicine Raises Age-Old Questions’)
Eddie Jacobs, University of Oxford

General Audience / Honorable Mention

‘Synapses that Sell! Exploring the Ethics behind Consumer Neuroscience’
Inchara M., Christ University (India)

‘The Gut Microbiota and Brain: A Story of a Dialogue Opening Up Neuroethical Issues’
Laure Tabouy, University of Paris-Saclay (France)

‘Neuromarketing and the Potential Misuse of Data for Political Maneuvering’
Connie Y. Lu, Harvard Medical School (United States)

High School / Winner

Cherie Fernandes profile photo
Courtesy of Cherie Fernandes

Redefining Justice: Updating Criminal Law to Reflect a New Understanding of the Mind
Cherie Fernandes (United States)

High School / Honorable Mention

‘Common Consequences: The Case for Patient-to-Patient Education during Deep Brain Stimulation’
Yuanmeng Zhang (United States)

‘Equity, Equality, and Restraint: The Ethics of Neuroenhancement in Education’
Yashwanth Gokarakonda (United States)

‘Innocent Before Proven Guilty? Unconscious Implications of Race in the Criminal Justice System’
Angelina Xu (United States)


Release: Top student essays selected in the Neuroethics Essay Contest – September 18, 2019


CNS Intervention in the Courtroom: An Ethical Evaluation of the Rehabilitative Potential of SSRIs
Khayla Black, New York University Shanghai

General Audience

Growing Brains: Warnings from a Cell Line that Became Immortal
Sunidhi Ramesh, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

High School

The Right to Neurotechnology: Exploring the Government’s Role on Societal Stratification in the Future of Human Enhancement
Prithvi Nathan, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology

Three students holding certificates with two contest organizers;
Winning authors 2019: Khayla Black, Sunidhi Ramesh and Prithvi Nathan; pictured with contest supporter Dr. Michael Patterson, far left, and Hank Greely, past president of the INS, back row second from right.



Personhood: Projection or Perception?
Soren Vale Evers, North Carolina State University

General Audience

Not Our Problem? The Neuroethical Implications of Youth Detainment
Jean Ngoc Boulware, The University of Chicago



Neuroethics in Neurolaw: Exploring notions of duality and the implications for evidence and ethics
Joseph J. Avery, Princeton University

General Audience

A Medical Solution to Reducing Police Brutality
Natalia Montes, University of Washington



Addicted and Attached: A Neglected Perspective on Neuroscience Research Linking Addiction and Love
Monique Wonderly, Princeton University

Oops, There Goes My Childhood: Identity and Ethical Issues in the Selective Erasing of Memories
Kaitlyn McGlothlen, University of Washington



The Suffering of Mice and Men: A Utilitarian Approach to Animal Experimentation
Jennifer Lee, McGill University

Neuroethics in Neuroscience Series: A Brief Examination of the Ethical Concerns Associated with Language and Communication Impairments in Legal Proceedings
Joseph Wszalek, University of Wisconsin-Madison



Location of the soul and acceptance of brain death in the East and West
Qing Yang, Yale University School of Medicine.

Exploring the Ethical Implications of the Commercialization of Physiological Computing
Katie L. Strong, Emory University.