News

From the College of Natural Sciences
Font size: +

Student Profile: Jessica Chang

Student Profile: Jessica Chang
The 2007 Stem Cell Symposium, which is being held at the University of Texas at Austin on April 13, was conceived in the aftermath of a high school debate gone wrong.

“The topic was stem cell research,” says Jessica Chang, now a senior biology major. “My team had done a lot of research. The other team hadn’t done any. We got up and made all of our detailed arguments, and the other team just said, ‘You’re killing babies!’ We lost unanimously."

For most high school students, that would have been that—a reminder that science often needs to be translated for the public. Chang, however, saw a problem, and she saw an opportunity. The problem was that voters and politicians were making decisions about science-related issues without even a basic knowledge of the science involved. The opportunity was to educate them.

During her sophomore year at The University of Texas at Austin, Chang began chatting with a few of her friends about doing some kind of educational event on embryonic stem cell research. The idea grew, and over the next few semesters Chang and her friends formed a committee to plan a symposium. It wouldn’t just be about the science of the issue, they decided, but about its ethical and political ramifications as well. Most importantly, all sides of the issue would be presented so that students would be educated rather than propagandized.

“They always say that UT students are the future leaders of America,” says Chang, “and we thought, these future leaders of America will be making decisions on science issues based on hearsay … and that’s scary.”

The symposium, which is part of this year’s Dean’s Scholars Distinguished Lecture Series, is designed with the idea of remedying the lack of knowledge. There will be three debates—one on the science of stem cell research, one on the ethics of it, and one on the policy—and each debate will feature opposing experts and a moderator. The point, says Chang, is not victory but clarity.

“We’re not trying to tell people what to think,” she says, “we just want them to be educated, to know why they’re on one side or the other.”
Three Professors Elected Members of National Acade...
Physicists Slow and Control Supersonic Helium Beam

Comments

 
No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Guest
Monday, 20 November 2017

Captcha Image