Princess Sumaya bint el Hassan of Jordan visits UC Berkeley

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UC Berkeley hosted royalty in its own California Hall on Feb. 23 as Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya bint el Hassan of Jordan was presented with a Chancellor’s Citation in recognition of her work promoting scientific research endeavors.

Princess Sumaya serves as the president of Jordan’s main scientific body, the Royal Scientific Society (RSS), as well as a chair of the World Science Forum. After a Berkeley Global Science Institute delegation visited the RSS in Jordan, the BGSI established an agreement with the RSS in 2016 to develop extensive research collaborations in Jordan, start a research institute in Amman, Jordan and provide research opportunities for emerging scholars in the region.

According to the founding director of BGSI, UC Berkeley chemistry professor Omar Yaghi, the BGSI is an institution within the College of Chemistry that works to further research connections in the United States and abroad, including areas where research opportunities are nonexistent. The BGSI has also founded research centers in Vietnam and Saudi Arabia as well as instituted joint research programs in China, Japan and Korea.

UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof said in an email that the collaboration between the university and the RSS “will build upon each institution’s tradition of research excellence and scholarly innovation by leveraging the intellectual capital of both organizations.” He added that the purpose of the collaboration is to educate new scientists and perform high-quality research.

Yaghi said he would like to see the institute in Jordan become a “node of research” focused on finding solutions to problems concerning the environment, public health, and environmental sustainability in not only Jordan, but the rest of the world. He also emphasized the necessity of involving young people in research.

“I can’t see how we can achieve a better world without bringing these young people along, bringing them into programs (and) teaching young people how to reason, how to innovate, and how to enjoy the act of discovery and, hopefully, build a science culture based on facts and rational thinking,” Yaghi said.

The Chancellor’s Citation is awarded to distinguished persons whose achievements contribute to the campus. Mogulof stated in an email that “the (recipient) of this award highlights UC Berkeley’s recognition of Princess Sumaya’s work promoting science, research, and technology for the greater good.”

Yaghi said he believes Princess Sumaya was recognized for her dedication to supporting science and using it as means of improving human life. He also said the Princess was instrumental in bringing the World Science Forum to Jordan this November, making it the first Arab country to host the conference, which he views as a significant achievement.

“(Princess Sumaya) has spent all her life advocating the use of science to improve the quality of life of people and to bring peace to the world using the language of science … (which) transcends borders and differences among people,” Yaghi said.

Contact Michelle Perales at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @machellelucy.