Paul Farmer lives his life by one rule: the Golden Rule.Farmer, a Harvard-educated medical doctor, operates a clinic in rural Haiti. “If you were sick, you’d want someone to walk or be willing to walk five miles to see you,” he said in a 2003 e-mail from his clinic. “These patients do not live near roads. Someone has to go and see them. I think doctors should be among those willing to schlep a few miles (to see) a sick patient. Even if others disagree, I like doing it…”Read more here (Investors Business Daily)
The academic options can seem endless at Harvard, where each course can appear more exciting and challenging than the last. For a student, choosing a concentration, as majors are called at the College, is an exhilarating but potentially overwhelming process. Fortunately, each spring the Advising Fortnight makes all the departments and academic choices at Harvard accessible to freshmen during a two-week series of advising events.In Advising Fortnight, which started this year on April 5 and runs through April 18, Harvard’s 45 concentrations host information sessions, panels, and open houses where students learn about departments and committees.“The primary goal of advising, in my opinion, is to help an advisee explore, contemplate, and ultimately decide on what they are really passionate about,” said Robert Lue, professor of the practice of molecular and cellular biology and director of life sciences education. “The best advising is not simply about the immediate next step, it is also about the pathway and the doors that may open or close along the way.”Harvard College’s Advising Programs Office (APO) coordinates the logistics of all the events. Student input is essential to the Fortnight’s success, and the APO works with numerous undergrads to shape the format and programming and ensure that things run smoothly. Each concentration plans its own events to help students understand what a discipline studies and its methodologies.Advising Fortnight kicked off with a buffet extravaganza on April 5 in Annenberg Hall. All of the concentrations were lined up in long rows on one side of the dining hall tables, and students could drop by to speak with advisers.In addition to the concentration-specific events, the Fortnight also includes panel discussions with advisers from several departments covering broader fields such as the life sciences or the social sciences, so that students can compare different concentrations.“I was looking at psychology or social studies, and I knew that I wanted to do something in that realm. The panels are invaluable, so students can understand the decisions that they are making, take ownership of their decisions, and enjoy the academic experience,” said Kristina Dominguez ’10, a sociology concentrator who worked with the APO to plan this year’s Fortnight. “College is about a lot of things, but you have to enjoy your academics because it’s a huge part of the experience.”During the Fortnight, each first-year student must complete a required advising conversation. To do so, students participate in one of the concentration’s events or go to the concentration’s office hours to have a one-on-one conversation with an adviser. Advisers help students to narrow options and identify an area of study that sparks interest.“We’d like students to come away with some idea of the structure of the program, but also with an idea of what we might call the culture of the English concentration, and how they might fit in,” said Daniel Donoghue, John P. Marquand Professor of English. “Our three sessions offer different perspectives — from alums, from current concentrators, from the English Undergraduate Office — with the hope that students can find the information they need to make their decisions.”Advising Fortnight began five years ago, when the FAS faculty voted that concentration choice should take place during the first semester of the sophomore year, rather than the end of the freshman year. An amendment to that vote required students to have a “conversation” about choosing their concentration in the spring of freshman year. Because the Fortnight occurs at the end of the first year, and students choose their concentration the following fall, they still have time to plan and explore their options before making a final decision.First-year students vary widely in their certainty regarding their future concentration. Even students who think they know what they will concentrate in often reconsider their decisions.“Even though many students think they are going to do pre-med, it often changes after the first and second semester,” said Inge-Lise Ameer, assistant dean of Harvard College and interim director of the Advising Programs Office. “Even if they have decided on their concentration, there is a lot of decision making that goes on.”Freshman students who are certain of their future concentration will still find the Fortnight helpful, participants said.“I’ve been interested in psychology since the fourth grade, so today I’m interested in learning about lab work, thesis writing, and letters of recommendation,” said Esther Wu ’13 at the kickoff event. “I’ve also gotten advice on taking courses in other departments, which has opened my eyes to other possibilities.”
Joie Gelband wasn’t supposed to have a career as a union organizer. In 1985, the recent college graduate “tagged along” with friends to Boston and took a job at the Harvard Divinity School as a placeholder until graduate school.“My only goal at that point was to become a famous feminist theologian,” she said with a knowing smile. “That was my lofty ambition.” So when a co-worker approached her and invited her to a meeting about forming a union, Gelband passed.“I said — and I’m embarrassed to admit this — ‘I’m above that,’ ” she recalled. “I just hadn’t thought of the world of workers beyond my friends and I trying to get our first jobs.”That attitude didn’t last long. Her colleague persisted, and within a year of begrudgingly attending her first meeting, Gelband had quit her job to work on union activities full time.“I got very interested in the basic philosophy of this organizing drive,” she said. The nascent Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW), which finally formed after a worker vote in 1988, wasn’t just demanding more overtime pay or better hours, she said. “We were organizing around [the idea of] workers having a voice, and being in the room when decisions are made.”That mission has guided Gelband’s work over the past quarter-century. She may not be a world-renowned feminist scholar, but she has certainly changed women’s (and men’s) lives as an HUCTW organizer.After nearly two decades working as an organizer under the auspices of the union’s national affiliate, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Gelband came back on board as a Harvard employee in 2004.She now co-manages HUCTW’s Work Security Program, a partnership between the University and the union that helps to place laid-off workers in new positions around Harvard. Gelband trains case managers to work with the newly unemployed, coordinates with human resources and hiring managers, and serves as an advocate.“Harvard is an enormous and dynamic institution, and changes are going to happen all the time,” she said. Union jobs are especially susceptible to turnover. As grants expire, and as departments in the University expand and contract, support positions are frequently created, phased out, and reshuffled.“It saves the University to hire an experienced insider, and it’s the right thing to do for someone who’s facing job loss,” Gelband said.Gelband’s dedication to the program hasn’t gone unnoticed by the workers she has helped. Laverne Martinez became one of those people in July 2009, when Gelband helped her to land a job at the Office of Sponsored Programs. Gelband would call Martinez before and after every interview. She helped Martinez keep track of her many applications to provide necessary evidence of her job search to the union board. Gelband made calls on her behalf and set up informational interviews for practice.“Every single job that I’ve applied for, she has really been there, to the point where we would communicate every single day,” Martinez said. “She puts her heart into doing it.”Gelband also runs HUCTW’s School-to-Work Program, which places students from Cambridge Rindge & Latin School in paid internships around Harvard. Gelband trains HUCTW members to be intern supervisors and teaches a weekly seminar for the students to learn about workplace skills, labor issues, and collective action.She brings the union home, too. She and her husband, David Cort, a library assistant at Widener Library, met while working on the union campaign. Both work part-time to allow them to co-parent their two children, ages 15 and 7.“One of us is always available to do kid-related or dog-related things,” she said — like being the “resident union lady” at her daughter’s school. Every year Gelband teaches second-graders classic picket songs, including a few HUCTW originals. They’re the same tunes Gelband has been crooning since the mid-1980s, only in a classroom instead of at a rally: “Unions, unions, unions, u-u-u-unions! Unions are a woman’s best friend!”
The Simons Foundation has appointed Michael P. Brenner, Glover Professor of Applied Mathematics and Applied Physics at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), a Simons Investigator. Now in its inaugural year, the program offers an appointment of five years with a grant of $100,000 for research support per year, with the possibility of renewal for five additional years. A distinguished panel of scientists in physics chose Brenner for the award.Brenner, who was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study during 2011-12, also serves as the area dean for Applied Mathematics at SEAS. Along with colleague David Weitz, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and of Applied Physics, he is a co-creator of the famed “Science and Cooking” general education course. Brenner received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago in 1994, and came to Harvard in 2001 after six years as a faculty member in applied mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Over the past decade, Brenner has focused primarily on theoretical modeling in physical sciences and engineering. His research has examined the breaking of fluid droplets; sonoluminescence, the production of light from very high-pressure gas bubbles in liquid; the sedimentation of small particles; and electrospinning, a materials technique for producing small fibers. In addition to his appointment at SEAS, Brenner is a Kavli Scholar at the Kavli Institute for Bionano Science & Technology at Harvard University, a faculty associate at the Harvard University Center for the Environment, and a participant in the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at Harvard. Read Full Story
Read Full Story Massachusetts’ six years of experience with health care reform holds valuable lessons for the nation as it prepares to begin fully implementing the Affordable Care Act in 2014. In a September 5, 2012 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, Vanderbilt University’s John Graves and Katherine Swartz, professor of health economics and policy at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), suggest that new policies might be needed both in Massachusetts and the nation to help minimize long-term gaps in insurance coverage for certain groups of people.Graves, a recent graduate of Harvard’s Ph.D. in Health Policy Program, and Swartz said data collected both before and after Massachusetts implemented health care reform indicate that, while the lengths of uninsured spells were minimized for many Massachusetts adults relative to those living in neighboring states after the Massachusetts reforms, the percentage of long-term uninsured did not change dramatically. The authors suggest that low-income people who have access to, but cannot afford, employer-sponsored insurance plans may need increased eligibility for coverage from state-based health insurance exchanges.
During the summer of 2012, hundreds of Harvard Law School J.D. and graduate students benefitted from the largest pool of guaranteed funding offered by a law school for the broadest range of public interest summer work. A select group of 26 students worked in 19 countries under the aegis of the Chayes International Public Service Fellowships, dedicated to the memory of Professor Abram Chayes, who taught at Harvard Law School for more than 40 years. The program is co-administered by the Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising (OPIA) and International Legal Studies.Chayes Fellows typically work within the governments of developing nations, or with the intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations that support them. And they draw—before, during and after their summer placements—on the support, networking, and ongoing community offered by the Chayes program.On Thursday, November 29, several Summer 2012 Chayes Fellows will speak about their experiences abroad at a panel discussion on ‘Empowering Communities Through Law.’ The program, sponsored by International Legal Studies, will be held at 12 p.m. in Hauser 104.As in summers past, the work the Chayes Fellows undertook this summer was as wide-ranging as the places they traveled to. Read five brief portraits that reflect some of their experiences on the Harvard Law School website.
The Hasty Pudding Theatricals of Harvard University has named Emmy Award-winning actor Kiefer Sutherland as its 2013 Man of the Year. Sutherland joins Marion Cotillard, recently honored as 2013 Woman of the Year.The Man of the Year festivities will take place on Friday. The producers of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, Tyler Lewis ’14 and Peter Riley ’14, will roast Sutherland and present him with his Pudding Pot at 8 p.m. in Farkas Hall, before the opening performance of its 165th production, “There’s Something About Maui.” A press conference will be held at 8:30 p.m. following the roast.The Man and Woman of the Year awards are presented annually to performers who have made a lasting and impressive contribution to the world of entertainment. Established in 1951, the Woman of the Year award has been granted to many notable and talented entertainers, including Meryl Streep, Katharine Hepburn, Julia Roberts, Jodie Foster, Elizabeth Taylor, Anne Hathaway, and, last year, Claire Danes. The Man of the Year award was established in 1963. Its past recipients include Clint Eastwood, Tom Cruise, Robert De Niro, Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, Anthony Hopkins, Bruce Willis, Justin Timberlake, and, last year, Jason Segel.Sutherland is a prolific and award-winning actor who recently starred in the critically acclaimed Fox drama “24,” for which he won a Golden Globe, an Emmy, and two SAG awards. In 2011, Sutherland starred alongside Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Alexander Skarsgard in the apocalyptic drama film “Melancholia,” written and directed by Lars von Trier. He also starred on stage as James Daley in the revival of Jason Miller’s Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning play “That Championship Season,” which ran in spring of 2011.Currently, Sutherland stars as Martin Bohm in the Fox drama “Touch.” The American supernatural thriller television series was created by Tim Kring and debuted on Jan. 25, 2012. His other credits include the animated film “Monsters vs. Aliens” in 2009, opposite Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Laurie, and Seth Rogen; “The Sentinel” in 2006, opposite Michael Douglas and Kim Basinger; “Taking Lives” in 2004, opposite Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke; and “Phone Booth” in 2002, among many others.For more information about the event, please contact the Hasty Pudding Theatricals press and publicity manager Tyler Faux at 617.495.5205 or email@example.com.To purchase tickets to “There’s Something About Maui,” contact the box office at 617.495.5205, or order online. It will be performed at Harvard University’s historic Farkas Hall, 12 Holyoke St. The show continues in Cambridge until March 10. The company then travels to New York to perform at Hunter College’s Kaye Playhouse on March 15 and 16 (call 212.772.4448 for tickets), then to the Hamilton City Hall in Bermuda for performances on March 20-22.Press credentialing is now open for the Man of the Year event. Visit the website for press information and an online application form. For more information, contact Harvard Public Affairs & Communications by phone at 617.495.1585, or by fax at 617.495.0754.In addition to the annual Man and Woman of the Year Awards, The Hasty Pudding Institute will present the first Order of the Golden Sphinx award at a gala ceremony on March 4 at the Mandarin Oriental in New York. The Order of the Golden Sphinx — a traditional symbol of the Hasty Pudding Institute — will be given to Michael Lynton, the chief executive officer of Sony Entertainment Inc., for his deep appreciation of and dedication to enhancing the arts through both his personal commitment and arts education support.
A special notice regarding Harvard’s 363rd Commencement Exercises to be held May 29.Morning ExercisesTo accommodate the increasing number of people wishing to attend Harvard’s Commencement Exercises, the following guidelines are proposed to facilitate admission into Tercentenary Theatre on Commencement morning:Degree candidates will receive a limited number of tickets to Commencement. Parents and guests of degree candidates must have tickets, which they will be required to show at the gates in order to enter Tercentenary Theatre. Seating capacity is limited, however, there is standing room on the Widener Library steps and at the rear and sides of the Tercentenary Theatre for viewing the exercises.Note: A ticket allows admission into the theater, but does not guarantee a seat. Seats are on a first-come basis and cannot be reserved. The sale of Commencement tickets is prohibited.A very limited supply of tickets will be made available to all other alumni and alumnae on a first-come, first-served basis through the Harvard Alumni Association. Alumni and alumnae and guests are requested to view the Morning Exercises over large-screen televisions in the Science Center and at designated locations in most of the undergraduate Houses and graduate and professional Schools. These locations provide ample seating, and tickets are not required.Alumni and alumnae attending their College reunions (25th, 35th, 50th) will receive tickets at their reunions. Alumni and alumnae in classes beyond the 50th may obtain tickets from the College Alumni Programs Office by calling 617.496.7001, or through the annual Treespread mailing sent out in March with an RSVP date of April 15.Afternoon ExercisesThe Harvard Alumni Association’s Annual Meeting convenes in Tercentenary Theatre on the afternoon of Commencement. All alumni and alumnae, faculty, students, parents, and guests are invited to attend and hear Harvard’s president and the Commencement speaker deliver their addresses. Tickets for the afternoon ceremony will be available through the Harvard Alumni Association, or by calling 617.496.7001.— Jacqueline A. O’Neill University Marshal
On April 9 the members of the Faculty Council discussed multi-year financial planning and continued their conversation about University finances.The council next meets on April 30. The next meeting of the faculty is May 6 at 4 p.m. The preliminary deadline for the May 6 meeting of the faculty is April 22 at noon.
A new theoretical framework outlined by a Harvard scientist could help solve the mystery of how bacterial cells coordinate processes that are critical to cellular division, such as DNA replication, and how bacteria know when to divide.For decades, scientists have believed that cellular division is triggered when bacterial cells reach a particular size. The new model, described by Ariel Amir, an assistant professor of applied mathematics and applied physics, in a paper recently published in Physical Review Letters, suggests that cells coordinate the replication of their DNA not through size, but by how much they grow over time.“The focus of this work is on how bacteria regulate their size — how do they know when to divide, so they all remain largely identical,” Amir said. “The question is: How do they do that, and how does that couple with other processes in the cell, such as DNA replication?”Scientists have long known that bacteria can double their population in as little as 20 minutes, but a series of pioneering studies in the late 1960s revealed that it takes about an hour from the time DNA replication starts until cell division occurs.The remaining mystery has been in how those two processes are coordinated.“The answer is quite remarkable,” Amir said. “Earlier studies showed that what bacteria do is actually start the DNA replication process for subsequent generations. A single bacterial cell may actually be replicating DNA for its grandchildren, or even its great-grandchildren.”In the 1960s, researchers showed that DNA replication begins when cells reach a critical size, leading to the belief that bacteria somehow know how large they are, and that DNA replication is triggered at a certain size.Later studies, however, challenged that model with the finding that the size of bacteria at birth was correlated to the size of bacteria at division. Those findings — that smaller bacteria produced smaller offspring, while that of larger bacteria was larger — suggested that bacteria were measuring something other than their size.“What I propose is something that can reconcile these two pictures in a very simple way,” Amir said. “Rather than trying to reach a critical size, cells try to add a specific volume from the initiation of DNA replication to the next replication event. To do this, the cells need to measure a difference in volume, which is much easier, and they can achieve this in a biochemical way that doesn’t include any absolute measurement.”Though the exact biochemical process hasn’t been identified, Amir suggested that it might be similar to a system described in several studies in the 1970s.“Within this hypothetical model proposed in the ’70s, one protein is found at a constant concentration throughout the cell, and as the cell grows in volume the number of new copies it makes has to be proportional to the change in volume,” Amir said. “By thresholding the number of new copies, the cell can measure a change in volume.”Ultimately, Amir said, understanding how bacteria regulate their size could spur advances on a host of questions connected to the ways cells regulate biological processes.“This is a doorway to a larger question of how cells regulate and coordinate all the processes which occur in them, which is a huge question in biology,” Amir said. “This is an example where we can quantitatively understand some aspects of that, so I think this might lead us to some broader questions.”