UC Berkeley faculty are amazing. Not only are they world-renowned scholars, literary geniuses, and creative innovators, they also have incredible heart and enthusiasm for their students, teaching, and research. Whether in class, during office hours, at faculty-student events, or even around campus, interacting with UC Berkeley professors is a vibrant, memorable experience.
Although it’s been a year and a half since I’ve taken Chem 3B with Professor Pedersen, I still remember how he made organic chemistry seem practical and pertinent to everyday life with his “molecule of the day” examples, and how he inspired us with a clip from Pocahontas on the final day of class and told us we could change the world. I remember eating dinner with Professor Schekman my freshman year (two years before he won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine) in the Foothill dining commons and asking him what he found intriguing about biology. I also remember my excitement when learning about the longitudinal studies on facial expressions and positive emotionality in Psych 156 (Psychology of Human Emotion) with Professor Keltner.
More recently in the past two weeks, I’ve had memorable experiences eating lunch with Professor Carlson and playing ultimate Frisbee with Professor Healy during RCSA (Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholars Association) events.
While reading professors’ bios or their papers is interesting, nothing beats talking with them and asking about their experiences and research in person! During the hour-and-a-half lunch, Professor Carlson shared about his rich travel experiences (he’s conducted research with and provided medical care to 40 different ethno-linguistic groups in 15 countries). He talked about partnerships with local communities and host scientists and the importance of ensuring that projects are sustainable after returning to the US. As someone who loves traveling and hopes to do research or practice medicine abroad at some point, I was fascinated by his stories.
Professor Carlson also showed us the camphor tree, and we had an animated discussion about apples (there are thousands of different kinds of apples) and the connection between almonds, peaches, and cherries (they’re all a part of the genus prunus). I got very excited during the fruit discussion because I had no idea apples were so diverse! You can learn interesting facts in the most unexpected situations sometimes.
Another joy of interacting with professors in person is learning about their hobbies and interests. A few RCSA scholars played a game of ultimate Frisbee with Professor Healy and his graduate student Eda on Memorial Glade last week. Professor Healy and Eda taught us a variety of throws—backhand, forehand, and the impressive looking upside-down, over-the-head hammer throw. Professor Healy had previously won two national championships in ultimate Frisbee, and he was a pro during our game on Memorial Glade last week!
I’ve learned about a variety of topics talking with professors in class and during more casual settings. Their immense passion for what they do, from biology research to ultimate Frisbee, is super inspiring. The professors here are another reason why Cal is an amazing place to be!