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Desveaux is Melody's political science professor and the head of
the UCLA program in Washington. He says the selectivity of the program
guarantees that the students who are accepted are of the highest
caliber. "If you take students like that and spend the time
to show them the expectations and road map for an empirical-research
project, they're a quick study," Desveaux says. "It's
Washington Center's open atmosphere also helps forge bonds among
the students, who stay up to all hours exchanging ideas, working
together on their projects or engaging in thought-provoking discussions.
"All I did for the first few days was talk politics and things
- we had these late-night conversations about religion, finance,
physics and politics," Lunder says. "Interacting with
other students was an important part of the education I got here."
Ghassemi '03 says he even learned from his roommate how to play
chess. "Living with these guys has been a class in itself,"
he says. Ghassemi is one of the few science-oriented students (he
is majoring in political science but is premed) to take advantage
of the Quarter in Washington Program. His internship was with the
National Health Council and his research project was on federal
funding and its effects on stem-cell research. During his internship
he had the opportunity to meet James Thomson, whose research team
at the University of Wisconsin-Madison was the first, in 1998, to
successfully isolate and culture human embryonic stem cells, as
well as his "idol," Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) - not because
of his politics, Ghassemi quickly adds, but because Frist is both
a heart surgeon and a senator.
lot of science students think that to become a doctor, they need
to focus on the science and that's it," Ghassemi says. "But
there's a lot of politics in medicine. You also have to know the
policies behind the science and what is involved in getting certain
pieces of health legislation passed."
example, he noted during a Congressional hearing that the scientists
advocating for a broader use of stem cells failed to make a persuasive
case. It was difficult to judge their level of passion, Ghassemi
says, "just because their communication skills and their knowledge
of the legislative process wasn't there."