One of the perks of being a student at UC Berkeley is the opportunity to attend talks by renowned researchers and experts in various fields. Last week on March 9, I attended Professor Frans de Waal’s talk on “Prosocial Primates.” Professor de Waal is listed as one of Times’ most influential people, and he has authored numerous papers and books about empathy and cooperation among primates. As I am currently taking the Psychology of Human Happiness class with Professor Dacher Keltner and topics of empathy, compassion, awe, gratitude, and social interactions are a staple of the course, I was excited for the talk and arrived with a friend before the 2:30pm start time in Sibley Auditorium.
Did you know that dolphins sleep on one side of the brain at a time, and that the two hemispheres take turns sleeping while the other is awake to control swimming and breathing? Or that cells in biology labs where the lights are on all the time can get jet-lagged? (“I’m so tired… It’s been day for 3 months!”) Or that there’s a fairly strong relationship between happy mood and increased activity in the left prefrontal cortex? I was having an amazing day a couple days ago, and I thought to myself that my left prefrontal cortex must really be tickled with all that happiness.
Academically, UC Berkeley is known as the number one public school in the United States. Number 1 is really just a number that hides many of the opportunities and experiences that are available to a UC Berkeley undergrad, and it is very easy to get lost in the numbers instead of the actual stories of social impact that contribute to all that makes UC Berkeley the number one public school. Number one means that we have the opportunity to listen to and meet extraordinary people who have accomplished so much in their lives for the general public and I had the exciting opportunity to meet one such person.