Thornton Hall, A237-A P.O. Box 400744


Rosalyn W. Berne, PhD is the Anne Shirley Carter Olsson Professor of Applied Ethics and Director of the Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science (OEC) in the Department of Engineering and Society, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, where she has been a faculty member since 1999. She earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in Communication Studies and a PhD in Religious Studies-Bioethics, all from the University of Virginia. As a scholar, Berne explores the intersecting realms of emerging technologies, science, fiction and myth, and the links between the human and non-human worlds. Her research and writing span considerations of ethics in engineering practice, biotechnology and nanotechnology, and ethics in engineering education. Published under her name are two academic books -- Nanotalk: Conversations with Scientists and Engineers about Ethics, Meaning, and Belief in the Development of Nanotechnology (2006) and, Creating Life from Life: Biotechnology and Science Fiction (2014). Forthcoming in 2024 is her edited volume: Non-Human Animals, Ethics, and Engineering (working title). Other books authored by R.W. Berne are Waiting in the Silence, A SciFi novel with an ethics focus (2012); and two award winning books in the genre of body-mind-spirit: When the Horses Whisper (2013) and Waking to Beauty (2016), a winner of the Nautilus Silver Award. On leave from UVA from 2009-2011, Prof. Berne served as Vice President for Academic Affairs for the Institute for Shipboard Education. On leave from UVA from 2018-2020 she served as Director of the Center for Engineering Ethics and Society at the National Academy of Engineering, and as PI of the Online Ethics Center (OEC). In September 2020 the OEC was transferred from the NAE to UVA and Dr. Berne continues as director of the OEC.  She is an emerita advisor to the “Engineering One Planet” project of the Lemelson Foundation; advisor to the Kern Family Foundation KEEN (Kern Engineering Entrepreneurship Network) project, “Educating the Whole Engineer: Engineering Fundamentals, Character Education, and Entrepreneurial Mindset; a Standing Council Member, Engineering Research Visioning Alliance (ERVA); an emeritus member of the Education Committee, IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems (“The IEEE Global Initiative”); and serves on the Ethics Committee of the American Society for Engineering Education.


B.A. University of Virginia, 1979

M.A. University of Virginia, 1982

Ph.D. University of Virginia, 1999

"It’s the intersecting realms of emerging technologies, science, fiction, and myth, and the links between the human and the other-than-human worlds that have captured my imagination, fueled my scholarship, and inspired my teaching and writing. It’s in the living of life that I have come to appreciate the importance of ethics."

Research Interests

Science, Technology and Society
Engineering Ethics
Animal Welfare

Selected Publications

Waking to Beauty. Rainbow Ridge Books. BERNE, R.W. (2016)
“When an Explanation is Not Forthcoming: On including study of interspecies communication inside the academic domain of inquiry.” “WONDER AND THE NATURAL WORLD” (2016) INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE, SPONSORED BY THE IU CONSORTIUM FOR THE STUDY OF RELIGION, ETHICS, AND SOCIETY, HELD ON THE IU CAMPUS, JUNE 20-23.
"Ethics, Science, Technology, and Engineering: A Global Resource", 2nd edition. 4 vols. Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan Reference USA. BERNE, R.W. (2015). NANOETHICS. IN HOLBROOK, J.B., MITCHAM, C. EDITORS.
"Creating Life from Life: Biotechnology and Science Fiction" Singapore: Pan Stanford Publishing. BERNE, R.W. (2014). EDITOR.
"When the Horses Whisper" Rainbow Ridge Books. BERNE, R.W. (2013)

Courses Taught

STS 1500: Science, Technology and Contemporary Issues: Considering the Future through Fiction
STS 2500 Ethics in Nanotechnology Development
STS 2500 Religion and Technology
STS 2500 Science Fiction and the Future: The Frankenstein Myth in Emerging Biotechnology
STS 2500 Gender, Ethics, and the New Reproductive Technologies.
STS 3500/5500 Race Matters in Engineering and Technology
STS 4500: STS and Engineering Practice
STS 4600 Ethics and Engineering Practice
STS 2500 Engineering Ethics 2021-CURRENT


Featured Grants & Projects

Transforming Ethics Education. Online Ethics Enter (OEC), National Science Foundation $1,200,000