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New HEEP Initiative Makes First Faculty Hire

The Rock Ethics Institute has hired the first researcher for its new HEEP initiative. HEEP s an effort to look at the ethical issues surrounding human health comprehensively. Christine Costello, whose PhD is in civil and environmental engineering, will join Penn State in December.
by David Price Nov 04, 2019
New HEEP Initiative Makes First Faculty Hire

Christine Costello

The Rock Ethics Institute has hired the first researcher for its new HEEP initiative.

HEEP—which stands for Health Ethics, Ecology, and Policy—is an effort to look at the ethical issues surrounding human health comprehensively.

“By putting ecology in the title, we wanted to convey that we’re thinking not only of healthcare in the narrow sense but also of the broader network of relationships within which our health is embedded,” said Ted Toadvine, director of the Rock Ethics Institute. “This includes environmental factors, such as agriculture and climate change, as well as industry, economics, politics, and our larger culture.”

Christine Costello, whose PhD is in civil and environmental engineering, will join Penn State in December. She will be seated in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering in the College of Agricultural Sciences and will be a Research Associate in the Rock Ethics Institute.

Costello’s research interests include systems sustainability, specifically the evaluation of greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient flows, water and land use associated with current and potential agricultural systems, and management options.

Costello uses life cycle assessment and fate and transport models to study agricultural and food systems. She is particularly focused on food consumption and the role of human behavior as a driver for agricultural production. Specifically, she uses environmentally-extended input-output life cycle assessment (EE-IO LCA) techniques to evaluate environmental impacts throughout production supply chains in the U.S. economy.

As a multi-discipline collaboration, the HEEP initiative will have far-reaching impact across the University. “Penn State is uniquely positioned to lead this research and to train a new generation of interdisciplinary and ethically informed practitioners, researchers, and citizens,” Toadvine added.

Alongside the addition of Costello in December, HEEP is currently searching for a researcher in the area of neuroethics with the Center for Neural Engineering, which is a joint collaboration of Penn State’s College of Engineering and College of Medicine.

HEEP intends future hires in collaboration with the College of Nursing in the area of rural health and with Penn State Law in health law and policy.