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UCLA professor to bring her Harvard course on adolescence to local high school

B. N. Horowitz, a UCLA cardiologist and professor of medicine, has taken up the role of researcher in residence at the Archer School for Girls in West LA. Horowitz said she hopes to inspire young girls to get involved in scientific research through the position. (Courtesy of Joanna DeGeneres)

By Sarah Nelson

Feb. 7, 2020 12:31 a.m.

A UCLA professor said she hopes to inspire young girls to get involved in scientific research through her new position at a Los Angeles secondary school.

B. N. Horowitz, a cardiologist and professor of medicine, has taken up the role of researcher in residence at the Archer School for Girls in West LA, where she will be paired with one faculty member from Archer.

Horowitz, who is also a visiting professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University, is currently teaching a course called “Wildhood: Coming of Age on Planet Earth” at the university. She plans to teach this course at Archer as researcher in residence next year said Archer’s Head of School Elizabeth English.

The course at Archer will be adapted from the current curriculum at Harvard.

“We will be the first high school that is offering this course,” English said. “There’s such an air of possibility working with her. We are going to try this model, so that other schools can use this curriculum as well.”

This course at Archer, as well as at Harvard, is based on Horowitz’s 2019 book “Wildhood,” centered on the breadth of changes that take place in the mind, body and social atmosphere of maturing individuals. Wildhood is not unique to humans, and neither is adolescence, Horowitz said.

There is an often overlooked connection between animals at the same developmental stage, despite their lack of a common, shared ancestor, Horowitz said.

From puberty to adulthood, the journey into wildhood is an interspecies experience, a coming-of-age story shared by several species across the globe.

“Wildhood” co-author Kathryn Bowers said her and Horowitz’s research into adolescence was catalyzed by their own experiences as mothers.

Both professors at UCLA, with teenage kids of their own, Bowers and Horowitz sought to realize the wild and wacky period of life that is adolescence, which was translated into “Wildhood.”

“We really wanted to probe into that truism that adolescents take risks, to figure out if that is really true,” Bowers said. “Is it just because of their brains, or is there something else going on there? And so looking at populations of wild animals, kind of control for human culture and human exceptionalism that focuses a lot of thinking on humans, and humans as animals.”

Horowitz is currently teaching about adolescence at Archer, English said.

“Recently, she has been mentoring students in our honors research program, on a project specifically looking at menstruation across species,” English said.

This project is helping students prepare for an evolutionary science conference at the International Society for Evolution, Medicine & Public Health’s yearly meeting in Georgia later this year, where they will be able to present their findings, English said.

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, fewer than 30% of researchers are women.

Horowitz said by fostering research skills in young women, she hopes to individually engage them in studies concerning female health and evolution.

“Archer school is deeply committed to advancing science education and giving students cutting edge opportunities,” Horowitz said. “I was really excited to launch this project in association with the girls at Archer.”

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