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For Ethiopian Benyam Kinde an interest in science began early

(UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND) — As a child, he spent weekends with his father, a veterinarian and microbiologist, performing necropsies (animal autopsies) in a lab. When his mother, dean of mathematics at San Bernardino College, couldn’t find a babysitter – she brought him into the classroom, and he performed basic math problems in the back. These moments had a considerable amount of influence on his career choice, said Benyam Kinde, but his experience afterward – specifically with University of Maryland Baltimore County’s (UMBC) Meyerhoff Scholars Program – transformed his early fascination into a research career.

“Coming to UMBC was the best decision I could have made for a career as a reseacher,” said Kinde.

Born and raised in Southern California, Benyam Kinde learned about the Meyerhoff Program, which was established to increase diversity among future leaders in science, technology, engineering and related fields, from his brother Isaac Kinde ‘05, now a 5th year M.D./Ph.D. student at the Johns Hopkins University.

Since enrolling in the program, Benyam Kinde has been able to pursue research opportunities he hadn’t imagined – which are now leading him to Germany. This summer, he will attend the 60th Interdisciplinary Meeting of Nobel Laureates. Selected from a pool of more than 20,000, he’ll join 500 young researchers and network with leading scientists in the fields of medicine or physiology, physics and chemistry. Kinde was nominated to attend by Peter Agre, a medical doctor, professor and molecular biologist at Hopkins who was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and received an honorary degree from UMBC in 2009.

“I’m excited to have been selected for such intellectual fellowship. This honor is a testament of the research opportunities and academic preparation available for UMBC students,” he said.

Kinde’s experience with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has provided a solid background for his research. Under the guidance of Michael Summers, HHMI investigator and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, Kinde is conducting leading research on HIV, developing protocols that allow for the elicitation (drawing out) from large RNAs (similar to DNA, a molecule called ribonucleic acid). This research provides insight into the life cycle of the virus and an understanding about where the virus spreads.

“Dr. Summers is more than just a powerhouse in the field of NMR spectroscopy; he also finds the time to be a fantastic mentor to his students with an office door that is essentially always open,” Kinde said.

In addition to his research at HHMI, Kinde performs research at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, where he studies neurophysiology and the importance of circadian rhythm – which allows us to wake and sleep. He will continue his work deciding between combined-degree M.D./Ph.D. programs and leaning toward Johns Hopkins. Kinde plans to specialize in neurology and continue to conduct research in the field of neuroscience.

Active on the UMBC campus, Kinde belongs to the Golden Key International Honor Society (serving as president), Minority Access to Research Careers Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (MARC U STAR) and Getting Everyone to Unleash Potential (GET UP! – founding member). He also volunteers, tutoring genetics in the Department of Biological Sciences, among other activities.

8 thoughts on “For Ethiopian Benyam Kinde an interest in science began early

  1. Ethiopian review should post more articles of young Ethiopian achievers. It is a pleasure to read and reflects the breadth and inter-connection of different aspects of real life.


  2. Born, raised, and educated in America, Benyam Kinde is a lost child when it comes to understanding the complex issues of his parents’ land, and there is no way he can be called an Ethiopian since he has never been exposed to the Ethiopian diverse cultures, languages, traditions, and ethnicities. I wander if he speaks one of the languages spoken in Ethiopia; however, Ethiopia should not expect great help from her lost children: They are foreign to her as she is to them.

    Very soon, he will be picked up by some rich countries to serve as a dean of one of their universities, offering him millions of dollars where he will not resist such a great offer and go instead to Ethiopia and help poor Ethiopians.

  3. #3 Assta B. Gettu you said:
    “Born, raised, and educated in America, Benyam Kinde is a lost child when it comes to understanding the complex issues of his parents’ land, and there is no way he can be called an Ethiopian since he has never been exposed to the Ethiopian diverse cultures, languages, traditions, and ethnicities.”

    How do you know if he has not been thought the value of Ethiopia by his parents? He is more Ethiopian than those so called Ethiopian leaders who are selling Ethiopia. You don’t have to be born and raised in Ethiopia to be entitled Ethiopiawinet status. Everyone who has a drop of blood in him is as Ethiopian as you and I. Before you criticize this fine young man, what have you done yourself for your country? Give credit when it due. Everyone should be proud of him.

  4. FANO #4,

    Indeed, I’m proud of him for what he has accomplished; in fact, I copied his picture with his story from Ethiopian Review and showed his picture and the story to my friends, and they were surprised by his accomplishments at this young age.

    What I’m saying, however, is that teaching one’s child in a foreign country the value of his/her mother or father land is not enough, and it is not the same thing as being born, raised, and educated in one’s own country, playing with one’s own Ethiopian friends, swimming in the Ethiopian rivers, watching the Ethiopian birds fly in the Ethiopian sky, eating the Ethiopian bread, drinking the Ethiopian water, hiking in the Ethiopian forests, climbing the Ethiopian trees or the Ethiopian mountains, celebrating the Ethiopian festivals, listening to the Ethiopian music, watching the Ethiopian farmers plow their farm land, gather their harvests, milk their caws, smell the caws’ dung, run to catch a running goat, wash one’s clothe in a running water, sleep in a straw bed, and wake up by the crow of a rooster. All these natural elements create in a child’s mind unforgettable love to, and a strong attachment with, his own country. Unfortunately, those Ethiopians who are born, raised, and educated in a foreign country may not have the same feelings about their mother land as those Ethiopians who were born, raised, and educated in Ethiopia.

    A foreign-born Ethiopian child will grow up playing with different Chinese- or American- or Japanese-made toys. An Ethiopian child will grow up playing with dust, grinding dust, running in the meadow, tending caws, goats, sheep, riding a horse or a donkey, picking up wild fruits, and chasing animals. I hope you can see the big difference between these two: foreign-born Ethiopian and home-born Ethiopian. Of course, both are Ethiopians; the only difference between the two is that the foreign-born Ethiopian is an Ethiopian in name only while the home-born Ethiopian is a natural Ethiopian.

  5. Assta. I do understand your fears and frustrations! I assure you Benyam and others like him will not forget where their root is and the history and culture of their parents. We simply have to rejoice and glorify his success as an Ethiopian. Trust me, once he is successful and settled he would remember those kids that he met in Lake Tana. Let us rejoice his success. Let us join his parents in their dreams and success that they worked hard to raise him and show him the way! His looks are his everyday reminder to him that he is indeed an Ethiopian! He won’t forget his country!

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