Title: A Discussion of Professional Ethics
Dr. Frances A. Houle
From IBM Almaden Research Center,San Jose, CA
It is often assumed that science and engineering students can pick up the basics of ethical behavior during their education, and do not need direct instruction or even informal discussions to develop an awareness of important values. This lack of explicit focus on ethics can lead to unfortunate misunderstandings or even worse an impression that ethical thinking is unimportant. There are several levels of professional ethics that all scientists and engineers should understand and consider, ranging from fabrication, falsification and plagiarism which are defined as misconduct by the US government, to harmful behaviors such as failure to cite previous work in a paper. It is essential that all be well-equipped to make good decisions in these areas. This is achieved not only through knowledge of the elements of professional ethics, but also through development of good judgment by discussion of situations and examination of past events. In addition, it is important to understand how to handle suspicions or allegations of unethical behavior, and to be familiar with resources within one's institution to assist in such situations.
Frances Houle received the PhD in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology, and is a Research Staff Member in the Science and Technology department of IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose. Her current research interests include chemical modification of solid surfaces and films, materials and techniques for nanoimprint lithography, photolithographic image stability and pattern transfer on the sub 50 nm length scale, and development of stochastic methods for simulation of complex chemical reactions. She has received a number of IBM and external awards for her work on thin film and surface processing and simulation algorithms. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, Fellow of the AVS Science and Technology Society, and member of the American Chemical Society and Materials Research Society. Her recent professional service includes General Councilor and member of the Executive Board of the American Physical Society, and Chair of the APS Task Force on Professional Ethics.