Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Inspiring Lecture

I thought I have to pen this down before I forget though I am racing against time to complete my revision for 18hours worth of upcoming exam papers starting next Monday. Never have I experienced such an inspiring lecture in my life. Though I have encountered lots of insightful and dedicated lecturers in NUS, however, they are no where near the passion or humor displayed by some of my lecturers here in Cal.

Today, during my General Endocrinology class, my Black lecturer, Hayes, a Harvard graduate was giving his first power point lecture on his research studies. His research topic was "The effects of pesticides on frog development." He started by saying he's a man of few heroes in his life and those heroes whom he dedicate his achievements to are his mum, grandmother, wife and children which was very heartwarming. He then moved on to share how he cultivated his interest and curiosity in frogs, his findings on his research studies and showed us majestic pictures of the different landscapes where he did his field research studies. Pictures from the sky, at ground level and all the different angles you can do with your camera. Didn't know research studies can be so fun and interesting as well. Get to explore and embark on amazing adventures while you conduct your studies. Cool.

Just as we were absorbed in his adventures of his research, he threw us a surprise out of the blue. He showed us a blank slide with just a line in the middle of the screen. He asked the class what's the thing on the screen. Somebody answered "a line" and here's where the excitement starts to buildup. "This is not just a line, but "the" line. The reason I show you guys this is because I have just crossed the line and I have good reason for it." He moved on to express his displeasure on not being able to get his papers published despite the concrete evidences he had gathered and favorable peer review he got from his fellow colleagues because of political reasons. He made a statement I still remembered, "They tell you as researchers, you just focus on your research and let the management make the decisions." Next up, he showed us the hierarchical structure in getting journal papers published for scientists, all the organizations and committees involved. Here is the stunning part. He plastered photos of the same person who was chairing in several of those organizations and committee and expressed he was the reason why he could not get his papers published. He moved on to debunk the arguments made by this person and his team of research scientists in verification of his findings on his research and contest on each of their reasons for rejection, which were very convincing. How courageous can you go. Well, this is America. Land of the free. Freedom of speech. Individual rights above anything else. But, I respect him not just because of his courage but the charisma he displayed while fighting for his cause. He wasn't degoratory or sarcastic in his rebuttal but he was a real gentleman who expressed his unhappiness in an amicable, persuasive manner.

In rounding up his lecture, he showed us why we should fight or even care about such things. He fights because he knows his research findings, which revolves around pesticide has a great impact on our environment and people. He fully utilizes the images of people and mother nature to capture the soft spot in our heart and empathize with him. And guess what happened at the end of his lecture. No prizes for the right guess. The whole class just stood up to give him a standing ovation which lasted close to a few minutes. Just amazing. You could hardly find such charismatic lecturer in NUS.

One key difference I observed between the lecturers in NUS and Cal is that Cal lecturers know how to mix fun with their work and are more eloquent or "animated" in sharing their passion, thus inspiring more students to pursue their fields of studies. Some food for thought. Hmm.

I leave you guys off with an quote I got from Hayes, "Each of us should remember that we are writing our eulogies everyday of our life."

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