Science Education: A Personal History

“Jubilation: One of the reasons that we do Science”
– Peter Agre, Nobel Laureate, quoted from his talk at UBC on Nov 2nd, 2006

Each year, the announcements of the Nobel prizes brings us a moment where everybody stops and thinks about Science. It’s an exciting moment – where the wonder of science captures many minds. Every Nobel laureate that I’ve known, from Dr. Michael Smith, Dr. Sulston, Dr. Wieman, to Dr. Agre, have been committed to science education. These and other influential scientists have spent careers engaging bright minds with their science. When I’ve heard these men speak they all understand the value of connecting their science with people and real life in efforts that I’ll call, “Science Education”.

Listening to Dr. Agre speak last November sparked me to think about my own personal history with Science Education.

As a student, I have distinct memories about not being satisified with textbooks. We all wanted to know, “How does it really work?” I can remember having a conversation with a professor about how excited I was about research and science. We talked about how lucky we were to, “know all these things.” He knew exactly what I was talking about. I was a keen undergraduate and he was a great scientist. How thankful I am, to have had Dr. Frank Jirik as one of my early mentors. He was a wonderful PhD supervisor, who taught me about sharing knowledge, the importance of learning, and how to foster good scientists.

As a graduate student at the CMMT, I had many unique chances to share my flare for Science. The CMMT is led by Dr. Michael Hayden, a visionary, who is passionate about connecting his world leading science with real people’s lives. I started by volunteering for tours given to patient groups, donors, and the press. Then, I started getting calls from the flourishing movie industry in Vancouver. One of my favorite experiences was sharing expertise and late night pizza with the talented team from the, “The 6th Day.” Back at the CMMT, Michael connected me (and other scientists) with the Electric Company. These talented artists created, “The Score,” a play (and then film) that fuses science and theatre in an experiment of exploration. The results were outstanding on so many levels.

Science education is a two way street for me. The more I talk with people about Science, the more I learn. I learn about my own creativity. I explore deep aspects of science seen from many different perspectives. I share with people the enthusiasm and hope that my current research projects bring into my daily life. These conversations are wonderful ones that I hope to keep having my whole life through.

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