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Congratulations to Professors Erwin and Travis who were selected as the two winners of the 2023 Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) Call for Paper Competition.

Professor Alex Erwin presented “Building Better Species: Assisted Evolution, Genetic Engineering, and the Endangered Species Act.”


On December 10, 2020, Elisabeth Ann, a black-footed ferret, was born. This was a momentous occasion, as it was the first time a native species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) had been cloned. This is the first major attempt to use biotechnology to aid in the conservation of an endangered species, but it will certainly not be the last. While cloning may only be relevant for a small subsection of species, other forms of biotechnology, like genetic engineering, could be used to restore lost diversity or make novel changes to genomes. Projects to modify coral to withstand warmer oceans, or to create resistance against chronic disease in amphibians, are already in progress in academic and industry labs. Despite the promise, the application of these techniques to wildlife conservation is controversial. The use of genetic engineering to intervene in evolution is contentious because it challenges humanity’s assumptions about the very meaning of Nature. Genetic interventions pit the goals of protection of species and preservation of functioning ecosystems against deeply ingrained views that wildlife should exist apart from our influence. Many threats that listed species face are unlikely to be abated using traditional conservation approaches, forcing us to perpetually manage rather than truly recover.

Professor Hannibal Travis presented “The Freedom of Influencing.”


Social media stars and the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) Act are clashing. Influencer marketing is a preferred way for entertainers, pundits, and everyday people to monetize their audiences and popularity. Manufacturers, service providers, retailers, and advertising agencies leverage influencers to reach into millions or even billions of consumer devices, capturing minutes or seconds of the market’s fleeting attention. FTC enforcement actions and private lawsuits have targeted influencers for failing to disclose the nature of a sponsorship relationship with a manufacturer, marketer, or service provider. Such a failure to disclose payments prominently is very common in Hollywood films and on radio and television, however. The Code of Federal Regulations, FTC notices, and press releases contain exemptions tailored to such legacy media. This Article addresses whether the disparate treatment of social media influencers and certain legacy media formats may amount to a content-based regulation of speech that violates the freedom of speech. Drawing on intellectual property law, consumer law, and securities law precedents, it argues that the more intense focus on disclosures by social media influencers infringes the freedom of influencing. It is irrational and discriminatory to impose greater obligations on influencers who are paid to mention or use products or services than on legacy media formats whose actors or directors mention or use similar products or services.