UAB Bioethics Bowl team claims national title

UAB beat out teams from universities including Dartmouth, UCLA, Georgetown and Rutgers to win national championship in bioethics.

Written by: Tiffany Westry

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ethics2Professor and coach Gregory Pence, Kevin Shrestha, Melanie Nichols, Ameen Barghi, Brynna Paulukaitis and Eric Kim.The University of Alabama at Birmingham Intercollegiate Bioethics Bowl team defeated six teams to win the 2015 Bioethics Bowl on Saturday, April 11, in Tallahassee, Florida.

Seniors Ameen Barghi, Brynna Paulukaitis and Kevin Shrestha and freshmen Eric Kim and Melanie Nichols – all honors students – beat out teams from universities including Dartmouth, UCLA, Georgetown, Rutgers and Samford for the title.

Each year, undergraduate teams from around the country compete in the Bioethics Bowl, debating some of the most pressing bioethical issues of the day. During competition, teams discuss and debate their views on a series of case studies.

“These students had the motivation to excel because they will use bioethics as they begin medical school,” said Gregory Pence, Ph.D., team coach and chair of UAB College of Arts and Sciences Department of Philosophy. “They know that they will be facing situations similar to those they are asked to debate in competition. This bright group of students won because they’ve mastered bioethics at UAB and received great advice from other UAB faculty.”

UAB cemented its win with what Pence calls a passionate and articulate attack by Paulukaitis and Nichols regarding a Tallahassee judge’s 1996 decision to force a pregnant mother to undergo a Caesarean operation to protect her unborn child.

“Our success was a result of tons of hard work, dedication, guidance from Dr. Pence and, most of all, team camaraderie,” said Barghi, team captain. “We faced some tough competition and close rounds, but ultimately the time various UAB faculty experts donated to our preparation put us ahead.”

The Bioethics Bowl Championship is held in conjunction with the National Undergraduate Bioethics Conference. The UAB ethics bowl team is sponsored by the Department of Philosophy.

The UAB ethics bowl team won its last national championship while competing at Duke University in 2011.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment that exemplifies the world-class opportunities UAB offers to our undergraduate students,” said Provost Linda Lucas. “I want to thank Dr. Pence for his expertise and leadership and recognize these five talented students with very bright futures for representing UAB so well in such an important arena.”