Kristin Shrader-Frechette

University of Notre Dame

Faculty: Department of Philosophy and Department of Biological Sciences

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Distinguished 3TU Simon Steven Fellow (June 2013).


Kristin Shrader-Frechette has an undergraduate degree in mathematics, a Ph.D. in philosophy of science, and 3 US National Science Foundation-funded post-doctoral fellowships—in biology, in economics, and in hydrogeology. Before coming to Notre Dame in 1998 as O’Neill Professor, Department of Philosophy and Department of Biological Sciences, she held senior professorships at the University of California (Santa Barbara) and the University of Florida. Her research has been funded continuously for 28 years by the US National Science Foundation and has been translated into 13 languages. It focuses on (1) flawed models in contemporary population biology, radiobiology, and hydrogeology; (2) default rules under mathematical and scientific uncertainty; (3) quantitative risk-analysis models; and (4) how questionable methodological value judgments in science can undermine science-related ethics and policy. Author of 16 books and nearly 400 articles, Shrader-Frechette’s theoretical work appears in journals such as Biological Theory, Bioscience, Health Physics, Oikos, Philosophy of Science, Quarterly Review of Biology, Synthese, and Trends in Ecology and Evolution. Her practical work applies analyses of (1)-(4) to contemporary scientific controversies. It appears in journals such as Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Energy Policy, Modern Energy Review, Risk, Risk Analysis, and Science (3 pieces). Her work has caused the US Department of Energy, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the US National Academy of Sciences to appoint her to key boards and committees determining methods for human-health and ecosystem risk assessment, nuclear-waste-transport, and hydrogeological modeling. She advises many nations and many US government agencies on nuclear-waste management, radiation dose-response curves and regulations, research ethics, and science and ethics. Her books include Burying Uncertainty, Ethics of Scientific Research, Method in Ecology (coauthored with Earl McCoy), Nuclear Power and Public Policy, Risk Analysis and Scientific Method, Risk and Rationality, Taking Action, Saving Lives—which Oxford University Press nominated for a National Book Award—and What Will Work: Fighting Climate Change with Renewable Energy, Not Nuclear Power. As a result of her on-going, international, pro-bono scientific work to protect poor and minority communities from flawed risk analyses and pollution-caused environmental injustice, she has won many awards. In 2004, she became only the third American to win the World Technology Association’s Ethics Prize. In 2011, Tufts University’s gave her the Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award.