Shaping science, technology debates: U-M’s Shobita Parthasarathy
Shobita Parthasarathy was recently promoted to full professor at the Ford School of Public Policy...
Shobita Parthasarathy was recently promoted to full professor at the Ford School of Public Policy at University of Michigan. In doing so, she joined a small handful of Indian-American women professors and researchers of public policy at U.S. universities. Parthasarathy is a leading scholar of science and technology policy studies. Her last book, "Patent Politics: Life Forms, Markets, and the Public Interest in the United States and Europe," analyzes the growing concern that modern patents are not adequately serving public interests—public health, economic equity, morality and democracy. Michael Barr, dean of Ford School of Public Policy, called Parthasarathy an "outstanding, highly engaged scholar and an exemplary teacher." Parthasarathy spoke about her journey and her motivations to follow her passions
How did you become interested in a career in public policy?
I became interested in politics and law as a high school student. The biggest influence probably was the Junior Statesmen program where I spent one month at Georgetown University. The students met with policymakers and engaged in policy debates and multidisciplinary discussions and it gave me a great overview.
As an undergraduate, I chose biology as my major, but I wasn’t satisfied with the usual career paths available. I was really interested in the broader implications of science and wanted to make a difference in society. I also realized the emerging fields of genetics and biotechnology raised a number of policy questions and we needed more social scientific research about their social, ethical, economic and health implications.