Kirstin Matthews headshot


SURF Mentoring

Potential projects/topics: Vaccines are considered one of the top 10 health innovations of the 20th century. However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a large and sustained decline in childhood vaccinations. Furthermore, vaccine requirements for school, work and public spaces have become a political flashpoint linked with anti-mandate sentiment. These concerns about vaccines come during a time of political polarization in the United States, often promoted by conservative media and leaders. This project will focus on helping to understand major arguments against vaccines and vaccine requirements and finding ways to combat misinformation and hesitancy. Students will analyze public congressional testimony and bills filed that impact vaccine access and equity; conduct literature reviews to understand how vaccine misinformation is perpetuated and reasons for vaccine hesitancy; and write and edit policy reports and commentary.

Potential skills gained: Policy Research; Public Understanding of Science; Vaccine and Biomedical Research Policy; Writing; and Editing

Required qualifications or skills: Students from all majors can apply, preference for students who have taken introductory biology (AP credit and non-science courses count) and writing courses

Direct mentor: Faculty/P.I.

Student Project Titles List

Texas H.B. 810: Increased Access to Stem Cell Interventions or Unproven Medicine?

Research Areas

My research focuses on ethical and policy issues related to biomedical research and development. Specifically, I am looking at regulation and ethical issues related to emerging biotechnology, including genetics and stem cell therapies, and the development of scientific research collaborations. In addition, I am part of a research team with senior fellow Neal Lane and postdoctoral fellow Kenneth Evans, researching the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, federal funding and use of science and technology research and development.