Lessons for UT in principles of renowned scientist, rights advocate | UToledo News

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Lessons for UT in principles of renowned scientist, rights advocate

The University of Toledo could learn a great deal from the courage and high-minded pursuits of a renowned scientist, educator and human rights advocate, said UT President Lloyd Jacobs as he introduced Dr. Zafra Lerman Dec. 10.

Dr. Zafra Lerman, right, talked to faculty and students in the Chemistry Department as Dr. Nina McClelland, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, listened.

Dr. Zafra Lerman, right, talked to faculty and students in the Chemistry Department as Dr. Nina McClelland, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, listened.

Lerman, distinguished professor of science and public policy and head of the Institute for Science Education and Science Communication at Columbia College Chicago, spoke about her efforts to fight for the freedom and rights of chemists around the world in a lecture titled “Scientific Freedom and Human Rights: A Personal Odyssey.”

“My tenet in life is that science education is a human right that belongs to all and, therefore, I devote a good part of my life to make science education accessible to all, especially the underprivileged,” Lerman said.

The chair of the American Chemical Society Subcommittee on Scientific Freedom and Human Rights for more than 20 years, Lerman has risked her life to free scientists detained against their will in China, Somalia, Turkey and the former Soviet Union.

In his opening remarks, Jacobs praised Lerman for the strength of her convictions: “I am proud to share the stage, even for a moment, with someone who possesses that strength in her convictions. I am pleased that Zafra may be a contributor to cartoons that mocked the university president — the quintessence of free speech!

“Zafra’s causes and risk-taking have not been for paltry prizes or trivial purposes,” Jacobs said. “Our own blogs and utterances should aspire to the high purposes that Zafra has espoused. Any hint of racism or mean-spiritedness runs exactly contrary to the high and noteworthy commitments of Zafra Lerman.”

Lerman concluded her visit Dec. 11, touring UT’s Chemistry Department and meeting with students.

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