Nora Kabbara: A Savior For The Sciences

Scientists are lost. Scientists of our age have forgotten the purpose of science: to educate and inform the world of their findings. They’ve become so isolated and narrow-minded that they can’t quite see the big picture. But Nora Kabbara, a candidate for Biological Sciences Representative, has reignited my near extinguished hope in the next generation of scientists.

I hope that the scientific articles I’ve written over the last couple of months have built up my credibility in your eyes as being familiar with the ins and outs of the scientific community. Like all communities, the scientific community of today has its strengths and weaknesses. Though scientists can boast a mastery over the arts of logical and methodical ways of seeing, they face serious communication problems. And when I say problems, I don’t mean getting the jitters before a PowerPoint talk. They’re far graver than that.

Scientists haven’t always been scientists. Most biologists, at one point in their lives, surely were oblivious as to what exactly a protein is or how natural selection acts. But these facts have become so second nature to them over the course of their careers that they can’t envision how anyone could be unfamiliar with these terms.

Scientists are unable to put themselves in the shoes of the average layman. The result is a complete disconnect between scientists and the general public, effectively causing science to fail in delivering novel facts and knowledge of our universe to the everyday man. People of this generation no longer spend their free time debating or inquiring into what makes our Earth go around, for instance. They simply gave up and stopped caring.

As some of the fundamental roles of an ASUCI School Representative are to propose and allocate University funding where deemed appropriate, Nora Kabbara has resolved to personally initiate a grassroots movement to bridge the great divide between scientists and the lay public. This articulate young lady earned my endorsement when I heard about her plan to bring together UCI biological science faculty, students and community members for roundtable hot-topic debates.

She hopes that by creating pressure-free, off-the-record opportunities for discussion, scientists and non-scientists will learn to appreciate how science can transcend the constraints of the classroom and blossom in every part of one’s life. Imagine the nuance of gathering around a roundtable in which everyone is deemed equal with no “king of the castle” enforcing a unilateral way of thinking. Whether you have a Ph.D., B.S., or think formal education is all BS, you’ll have a seat waiting for you. This is unheard of, yet this is exactly what we need.

Do you know what else we need? Charisma. It’s all too common that those in power are willing to go with the flow even if they know it’s not necessarily the best thing for those they represent. But I’m sure you’ll know the lovely Miss. Kabbara if you see her. If you’re a biology major, it’s beyond a doubt that you’ve shared one of those 400 student lectures with her and are a firsthand witness to the charisma she irradiates.

I recall an instance in which a timid girl toward the back row of one of those mega-lecture halls was struggling to get the professor’s attention so she could ask a question. Her arm would shoot up in excitement, only to be let down to her own melody of sighs of despair when the professor repeatedly ignored her. Miss. Kabbara noticed this girl’s struggle and flagged down this pseudo-legally blind professor by bolting up from her seat and waving her arms side to side as if reenacting a scene from “Castaway.” Imagine a representative who would do this at official ASCUI meetings anytime her constituents’ rights were being trampled upon?

As a graduating senior who’s apprehensive over budget cuts and the extent to which they’ll continue to violate students’ rights, I wouldn’t feel safe leaving my precious alma mater in the hands of anyone but people like Nora Kabbara.

 

Faisal Chaabani is a fifth-year neurobiology major. He can be reached at fchaaban@uci.edu.