Scientist tells RE students to think ... huge

Silicon Valley scientist Tiffany Vora urged Upper School students to build a better future for themselves by employing exponential thinking and out-of-the box solutions rooted in digital technology. Vora, the Faculty Director and Vice Chair of Medicine and Digital Biology at Singularity University, admonished students during an assembly at the Lewis Family Auditorium on April 2 to aspire to change the world dramatically, not incrementally.
"The future is not something that happens to you," Vora said. "It's something that you build, it's something that you design, it's something that you make."

Vora also addressed the entire RE community, returning to campus in the evening to share her expertise at the intersection of genetics, biology and digital technology. She works at Singularity University with Chris Cowart '89, a faculty member in design and corporate innovation.

Vora explained the operating philosophy at Singularity University, whose headquarters are at NASA Research Park at Moffett Field, Calif., is to look for moonshots, transformative ideas that are so big, she said, they are sometimes called "loon-shots" and "you sound like a crazy person when you start talking about" them. She provided examples of companies tackling major problems in innovative ways in fields related to sustainability and climate change, animal protection, space exploration and disability care.

"We're not just trying to make the world a little bit better," she said. "We're trying to make it completely different."

Vora earned undergraduate degrees in biiology and chemistry at New York University and did her PhD research in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, eventually moving into the emerging fields of genomics, systems biology, and computational biology. She worked at American University of Cairo as a visiting assistant professor and also served as an instructor for the Department of Bioengineering at Stanford University. 

Vora, who attended a number of science classes on April 2 and 3, stressed that her passion was to solve problems democratically so that everyone – not just those with financial means – would benefit. She maintains that doing the right thing for humanity can be profitable.

"Making money and making the world a better place are not mutually exclusive," she said. "They really can go together."

Added Vora: "'Everything is going to be fine' is not a plan."

Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.