The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties is pleased to announce the winners of our First Annual Civil Liberties in Science & Technology Award winners!

For the first time, the ACLU invited all senior division participants in the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair to apply their interest and skills in science to address the civil liberties dimensions of their work.

ACLU’s 2009 Civil Liberties in Science & Technology Award Winners

Honorable Mention
Kit Haggard
Rui Jin

Project Essay Awards
Two $500 prizes awarded to essays that explore the implications of the student’s science fair project relative to the concepts of protecting and preserving civil liberties.
– Sharona Silverstein, Patrick Henry High, “The Effects of Volunteering on Humanitarian Missions on Pre-Dental Students’ Attitudes: Implications for Resolving an Ethical Problem”
– Michael Vredenburgh, Carlsbad High, “Ethical Concerns Regarding Patient Access to Critical Health Information”

Technical Award
A $1000 prize awarded to a project that directly incorporates the concepts of protecting and preserving–or reducing harm to–civil liberties.
– Anna Simpson, Patrick Henry High, “A Mobile Autonomous Chemical Detecting Robot”

Anna built a robot, a “mobile autonomous chemical detecting” one. Simply, the robot has the capability to detect chemical spills. In her essay, she explored ways that her invention could either enhance or infringe upon civil liberties, depending on how the humans operating the robot chose to operate it. She noted that without proper vigilance, it would be easy to employ the robots to conduct warrantless searches. Conversely, the civil liberties benefits could allow reasonable searches that are less intrusive than current technologies or practices allow, while also increasing security. Searches conducted by a robot might also mitigate instances of racial profiling.

Not only did Anna create a substantial technological design, she also clearly and persuasively explored the pros and cons of the effects her creation might have on an individual’s rights, and its impact on the betterment of society as a whole.

Special thanks to our distinguished panel of judges:
– Professor Walter Munk, Professor Emeritus, UCSD
– Dr. David Higgins, ACLU Board
– Dr. Michael Kalichman, UCSD, Director, Center for Ethics
– Dr. Jamie Rhodes, UCSD, Engineering and Public Policy
– Greg Rose, Vice President, Technology, Qualcomm Inc.
– Jake Sticka, 2009 graduate, Preuss School
– Dr. Paul Strauss, Psychiatrist

Anna Simpson’s Prize-Winning Essay

Anna Kornfeld Simpson essay.pdf