Her work, titled “Identical Prescriptions, Disparate Treatment: Anticonvulsant Usage in Frontal Lobe Epilepsy and Bipolar I Disorder,” received the Early Career Scholar in Neuroethics Award. She presented her work at the International Neuroethics Conference at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, on Oct. 24-25, 2012.
Esplin said it was an unexpected delight to be recognized for her work at the international level.
“It's an honor and very encouraging, but it's also a larger recognition of the caliber and commitment of Boyd's professors,” she said. “I simply wouldn't have received the award without Professor [Stacey] Tovino's support and guidance.”
Her paper discusses the advances in neuroscience and legislation that can affect the diagnosis and treatment of the conditions she studied.
“I conclude that, working in tandem, breakthroughs in neuroscience and legislative interventions can enhance understanding and access to care, helping to dismantle the philosophical heritage of persistent stigma,” she said. “This work is an outgrowth of a directed research project supervised by Professor Tovino.”
Esplin said that she became interested in researching this topic for the same reason she got into law school: being able to direct change to systems that need it.
“Part of the impetus for pursuing a J.D. is my belief that legal training affords the ability to effectuate meaningful, necessary change. Of particular concern to me is the marginalization of individuals with mental illness, which has been and continues to be reiterated and reified,” she said. “It's irrefutable that the categorization of physical versus mental illness as evidenced by Epilepsy and Bipolar Disorder is both problematic and conspicuously arbitrary.”
She added that she feels her work articulates why unequal treatment in health care and legislation is such a problem and how it impacts not just those afflicted, but the public at-large.
“More importantly, it proposes solutions to disparity and offers new modes of thinking and reconciling difference,” Esplin said.
As for post-graduation plans, Esplin hopes to continue working on things she finds to be fulfilling.
“I've been lucky to do the things I find enjoyable irrespective of whether they're lucrative or sustainable. More and more I realize there are so many paths to take post-law school, so I can't say which I'll follow,” she said.