Recently, a professor at UCLA was terrorized because of his research involving animals. His car was set on fire in his driveway. (Thankfully, he wasn’t inside.) The L.A.Times, as well as other new agencies, have been covering the story.

This is far from the first time scientists on the West Coast (and at UCLA specifically) have been targeted. The scientists out here talk in hushed tones, if at all, about their work with animals. I was stunned when I came out here and discovered that researchers lived in fear. When I studied in the East and, before that, the Midwest, the culture was entirely different. Although scientists were still careful and security measures were still enforced, there was none of the fear and intimidation seen out here.

I understand the passion felt on both sides of this issue. I was a vegetarian as a kid and carefully researched the products I used to make sure they weren’t tested on animals. But I also know how animal research has led to advances that saved countless lives. The scientists conducting these studies are brilliant and could get much higher paying jobs in business, law, medicine. They choose to work long hours for little pay to help us understand life, and in doing so, understand diseases and develop drugs. It’s tragic that, out here, they must be constantly afraid.

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