Rebecca Wilbanks, PhD


Rebecca Wilbanks received her PhD from Stanford’s Program in Modern Thought and Literature, and holds a BA summa cum laude in comparative literature and biological sciences from Cornell University. She moved to Baltimore to complete a postdoctoral fellowship in bioethics and the history of medicine at Johns Hopkins, where she is currently a lecturer in the Expository Writing Program. Addressing the intersection of science and culture, her work engages literary studies; science and technology studies; the history and philosophy of science, technology, and medicine; bioethics; and the environmental humanities.

Her current book project, “Life’s Imagined Futures,”  explores the speculative science and speculative fiction of synthetic biology. Rebecca is also part of the Center for Bridging Infectious Disease, Genomics, and Society (BRIDGES) at Johns Hopkins, where she is interested in genetic modification as a tool to fight infectious disease, as in the case of mosquitoes engineered to be resistant to malaria. Should communities have a say in whether genetically modified animals are released in their neighborhoods, and if so, what processes of public consultation and engagement should be used?  Rebecca’s work approaches these and other thorny ethical questions of the gene editing era through cultural and historical analysis, paying close attention not only to the values that underlie public support and opposition to biotechnologies, but also to those that motivate communities of scientists and technology developers.

Visit her personal website.


  • Ph.D., Modern Thought and Literature, Stanford University
  • B.A., Comparative Literature and Biological Sciences, Cornell University