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Student Spotlight: Carolina Abboud

Author: Carolina Abboud

Biology and Society has been my academic home for six years. I’ve earned my undergraduate and graduate degrees here. And I have to admit that when I first showed up, I had no idea what I was doing. Of course, the name of the program helped me a bit—I was there to combine the study of biology with the study of society. Somehow.

Jane Maienschein and Carolina Abboud

But as anyone who’s spoken to me can attest, I’m not a big fan of doing science. I eked my way through two semesters of chemistry lab work during my undergraduate years, and at one point got hit by a bike on the way to class. A very appropriate omen, I thought. So at the start of all this, I was dubious that a program with a science in its name, even tempered by the more appealing “society,” was going to be a good place for me.

Three degrees later, I’m delighted to report my hypothesis was incorrect. (That’s how this science thing works, right?)

It turns out I wasn’t here to study science or to study society, although I ended up doing both of those things along the way. I was here to learn how to tell stories. My first semester introduced me to the idea that there is a history of science, a collection of stories that deepens our understanding of science, scientists, and society. I wrote some of those stories in the Embryo Project, and I eventually began teaching others the craft of spotting stories and bringing them to life. How you share a story and with whom can make all the difference in the world.

I documented that in my own PhD work. I wrote about stories that have shaped the legal rights of fetuses, women, and pregnant people, both historically and in the modern day. I hope my dissertation will be useful to those who read it, and its conclusion draws an end to my time in Biology and Society.

I plan to continue the story of my own life by attending Stanford Law School in the fall. Originally, I wasn’t too sure about going to law school, to be honest. But I think there might be a fair bit of story-telling involved in legal work, and I have a good handle on that, thanks to everyone I’ve met during my time in Biology and Society, one of my favorite chapters so far.