Dr. Megan J. Palmer is a Senior Research Scholar at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University. She leads a research and practice program on risk governance in emerging technology development, with a focus on how security is conceived and managed as biotechnology becomes increasing accessible. Her current projects focus on assessing strategies for governing dual use research, analyzing the international diffusion of safety norms and practices, and the understanding the security implications of alternative technology design decisions.
Previously, Dr. Palmer spent 5 years directing the policy-related research program for the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (Synberc), a multi-university research center in synthetic biology. Within Synberc, she led and contributed to projects in safety and security, property rights, and community organization and governance. She has also held positions as the William J. Perry Fellow in International Security at CISAC, a research scientist at the California Center for Quantitative Bioscience at the University of California Berkeley (where she was also an affiliate of Lawrence Berkeley National Labs), and a postdoctoral scholar in the Bioengineering Department at Stanford University (when she first became a CISAC affiliate).
Dr. Palmer has created and led many programs aimed at developing and promoting best practices and policies for the responsible development of biotechnology. She founded and serves as Executive Director of the Synthetic Biology Leadership Excellence Accelerator Program (LEAP), an international fellowship program in biotechnology leadership. She also leads programs in safety and responsible innovation for the international Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition, which last year involved over 5000 students in 300 teams from 42 countries. Dr. Palmer also advises a diversity of organizations on their approach to policy issues in biotechnology, including serving on the board of the synthetic biology program of the Joint Genomics Institute (JGI).
Dr. Palmer holds a Ph.D. in Biological Engineering from MIT and a B.Sc.E. in Engineering Chemistry from Queen’s University, Canada.