Artificial Intelligence & COVID-19

Artificial intelligence (AI) and the current pandemic are both introducing huge changes and uncertainties. Both require collaboration across science and society to navigate the issues and create effective technology and solutions.   In a few projects, I'm examining Americans' opinions on view artificial intelligence (AI) applications across a wide-range of applications, especially in health contexts and for addressing  the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of this work involves creating nationally representative surveys and focus groups. I'm also studying how news in the U.S. and China covers COVID-19, from what topics news focuses on and who gets blamed in for negative outcomes related to the pandemic or credited with bringing about positive outcomes.

Deference & decision-making on science

Discussions in society about science and risk issues like AI and gene editing still tend to treat these issues as if they mainly about solving science problems -- and focus less on all the value-based and ethical issues connected to how we develop and use those technologies.  In this project, I'm studying, how do people view "science" broadly and science-related issues? And what does this mean for who they think should have a say in policy-making on those issues?  In particular, this project focuses on how we can better understand people's views of science in society. With these, I'm interested how we can communicate and have democratic decision-making about science and technology issues -- and their risks and potential benefits -- across those different viewpoints.

Newman, T., Howell, E. L., & Brossard, D. (2021). COVID-19 public health messages have been all over the place – but researchers know how to do better. The Conversation, April 14.

Howell, E. L. & Brossard, D. (2021). (Mis)informed about what? What it means to be a science-literate citizen in a digital world. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(15).


Howell, E. L. (2020). Science communication in the context of reproducibility and replicability: how non-scientists navigate scientific uncertainty. Harvard Data Science Review, 2(4).

Howell, E. L., Scheufele, D. A., Brossard, D., & Xenos, M. A. (2020). Deference and decision-making in science and society: How deference to scientific authority goes beyond confidence in science & scientists to become authoritarianism. Public Understanding of Science, 29(8): 1-19.

Wirz, C. D., Howell, E. L., Brossard, D., Xenos, M. A., & Scheufele, D. A. (2020). The state of GMOs on social media: An analysis of state-level variables and discourse on Twitter in the U.S.A. Politics and the Life Sciences. 1-16.


Howell, E. L., Kohl, P., Scheufele, D. A., Clifford, S., Shao, A., Xenos, M. A., & Brossard, D. (2020). Enhanced threat or therapeutic benefit? Risk & benefit perceptions of human gene editing by purpose & heritability of edits. Journal of Risk Research


Howell, E. L., Yang, S., Beets, B., Brossard, D., Scheufele, D. A., & Xenos, M. A. (2020). What do we (not) know about global views of human gene editing? Insights and blind spots in the CRISPR era. The CRISPR Journal. 3(3): 148-155.

Howell, E. L., Wirz, C. D., Scheufele, D. A., Brossard, D., & Xenos, M. A. (2019). Seeing through risk-colored glasses: Risk and benefit perceptions, knowledge, and the politics of fracking in the United States. Energy Research & Social Science. 55: 168-178.

Howell, E. L., Nepper, J., Brossard, D., Xenos, M. A., & Scheufele, D. A. (2019). Engagement present and future: Graduate student and faculty perceptions of social media and the role of the public in science engagement. PLoS ONE. 14(5): e0216274.

Howell, E. L., Wirz, C. D., Brossard, D., Jamieson, K. H., Scheufele, D. A., Winneg, K. M., & Xenos, M. A. (2018). National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report on genetically engineered crops influences public discourse. Politics and the Life Sciences. 37(2): 250-261.


Scheufele, D. A., Xenos, M.A., Howell, E. L., Rose, K. M., Brossard, D., & Hardy, B. W. (2017). U.S. attitudes on human genome editing. Science. 357(6351): 553-554. 

Howell, E. L., Li, N., Akin, H., Scheufele, D. A., Xenos, M. A., & Brossard, D. (2017). How do U.S. state residents form opinions about ‘fracking’ in social contexts? A multilevel analysis. Energy Policy. 106: 345-355.