Social ill

first_imgWomen who live in neighborhoods lacking in close ties are more likely to have coronary artery calcification, a key marker for underlying heart disease, than those who live in more socially cohesive neighborhoods, according to a study led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researcher Daniel Kim. Women who lived in the most economically deprived neighborhoods had more than double the odds of underlying heart disease.The study was published online last month in the American Journal of Epidemiology.Men appeared to be less affected by their social environments, with only those living in the poorest neighborhoods showing an impact. The study adds to the growing body of evidence that the physical and social environments in which people live and work can play a big role in health.The researchers examined health data from nearly 3,000 women and men aged 32 to 50 participating in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study and living in four United States urban areas: Birmingham, Alabama; Chicago; Minneapolis; and Oakland, Calif. They found heart artery calcification in about 11 percent of the women and 29 percent of the men. Perceived neighborhood cohesion was based on a survey in which study participants were asked to rate how well their neighbors get along and trust one another. Also taken into account in the study were Census data on income, education, and occupation grouped at the neighborhood level.“This is the first study to look at the relations between neighborhood socioeconomic deprivation and low social cohesion with coronary calcification in the United States,” said Kim. “Our findings are striking in that they show that these neighborhood factors can predict underlying heart disease in people without symptoms, as early as middle age.”According to the researchers, social cohesion, defined as strong, trusting relationships between neighbors, can improve people’s health by lowering stress and depression, fostering the sharing and reinforcing of healthy behaviors, and strengthening a neighborhood’s effectiveness in advocating for improvements in local services. Weak social cohesion took a toll on women’s health in both rich and poor neighborhoods, which may be related to women spending more time in their neighborhoods than men due to domestic roles such as raising a child and household chores, magnifying their exposures to any neighborhood hazards, according to the study.“If these neighborhood effects are in fact present,” said Kim, “interventions and policies to reduce the gaps in neighborhood social and economic conditions may be powerful ways to address the higher risks of heart disease and other conditions such as obesity that those living in poorer neighborhoods disproportionately appear to face.”Ichiro Kawachi, professor of social epidemiology and chair, Department of Society, Human Development, and Health at HSPH, was a co-author of the study.last_img read more

Tripping the arts fantastic

first_imgOn a recent afternoon, amid the buzz of preparations for Harvard’s annual Arts First extravaganza, the man who helps pull it all together sat in his office, surrounded by posters of past undergraduate performances and mementos from previous student-run shows, and made a surprising admission.When he was courted by Harvard 11 years ago for a leading arts position, Jack Megan left the campus after several rounds of intense interviews with a job offer, but also with a nagging hesitation.“I remember feeling like I still really didn’t have a sense of what the Office for the Arts (OFA) at Harvard did, or what the arts were like at Harvard.”Administrators told him to take time to think about his future and suggested he stop by Arts First. He did, and it struck him like a thunderbolt.A stellar piano concert in the Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum’s sumptuous courtyard, a riveting Asian-American dance presentation in Lowell Lecture Hall, and an inspiring performance by Harvard’s Kuumba Singers in Sanders Theatre, along with other performances, hooked him cold.“They were making art; they were doing it,” recalled Megan, director of OFA. “It was soul-lifting.”The annual arts showcase, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a bonanza of art, dance, poetry, music, film, and more, will run from April 26 to 29. Saturday’s Performance Fair, with multiple acts at 30-minute intervals in a dozen venues, is a movable feast of student talent.It all started with the dream of an alumnus who just wanted to bring a little festival to campus.Twenty years ago John Lithgow ’67, in collaboration with Harvard’s Board of Overseers, and the OFA’s then-director Myra Mayman, decided to organize a celebration of the arts scene at Harvard. Two decades later, the event, backed by Harvard President Drew Faust’s commitment to weaving the arts into the fabric of daily life on campus, has become an annual extravaganza.Approximately half of Harvard’s 6,600 students take part. This spring, more than 225 free events, diverse offerings including organ recitals, Irish dancing, jazz performances,  improv comedy, and pottery demonstrations, will take place at locations all around campus, with most open to the public for free.Harvard Arts Medal to JonesThe event will kick off with the annual Harvard Arts Medal ceremony at Sanders on April 26 at 3 p.m. This year, the award ceremony features two former Harvard student actors who will be together on stage once more. Lithgow, the annual master of ceremonies, will moderate a conversation with his former acting partner and Academy Award-winner Tommy Lee Jones ’69. The two performed in several theater productions while at the College.Faust will award the medal.Lithgow’s devotion to Harvard runs deep. He is forgoing a performance of his current Broadway show for the event, said Megan, who praised the actor’s lasting dedication. “He told us, ‘I have to be at Harvard.’ ”Dancing, super slow-motion styleAfter artist David Michalek’s spellbinding work “Slow Dancing” debuted last fall on campus for an event welcoming Harvard’s new director of the OFA Dance Program, Jill Johnson, Megan and company started making plans to return to Harvard.“We thought it would be incredible to offer it at full scale in conjunction with Arts First, in the dead center of the campus,” said Megan. And that’s where it will be.Beginning this Friday and continuing nightly from 7 to 11 p.m. through April 29, visitors to Tercentenary Theatre will be greeted by the impossibly slow movements of a host of professional dancers whose giant images will be projected on the façade of Widener Library.“Slow Dancing” premiered at New York City’s Lincoln Center Festival in 2007. For the series of slow-motion video portraits, Michalek captured each subject’s movement (approximately 5 seconds long) with a high-speed, high-definition camera recording at 1,000 frames per second (standard film captures 30 frames per second). The result is approximately 10 minutes of extreme slow motion. If viewers watch closely, they might see Johnson at work. She was one of the 43 dancers and choreographers involved in the project.“There are astonishing counterpoints and alignments and amazing recursive shapes that happen because of the slow motion,” said Johnson. “To be able to bring it to Harvard is such a thrill.”“We are indebted to President Faust and Campus Services for their support in mounting ‘Slow Dancing’ here,” said Megan. It’s a great example of the spirit of collaboration that the arts are capable of generating in the Harvard community.”Arts in the curriculumWhat can dancing the tango reveal about history? How does working with clay connect to anthropology? How do the Harvard Art Museums inspire new music?Visitors to Arts @ 29 Garden, Harvard’s new art space near the Radcliffe Quad, will find the answers to those questions on April 27, from 2 to 5 p.m. during “Breaking Boundaries: Arts, Creativity and the Harvard Curriculum.” The Quad Express Arts Shuttle will ferry people to the space every 10 minutes. Once there, visitors will encounter a range of art projects and presentations. The innovative, cross-disciplinary work is funded by the Elson Family Arts Initiative, inspired by Harvard’s 2008 Task Force on the Arts that called for greater inclusion of the arts and of art making in all disciplines.Over the years, Arts First has expanded to include more artists and performers, more types of performances and art making, and more space for art to unfold. And it has united many members of the Harvard community and beyond around the arts.“The community-building aspect of Arts First, that’s only gotten better over the years” said Thomas Lee, director of the OFA’s Learning From Performers program.Megan agreed.“It’s our annual opportunity to make a collective statement for the evolving arts and their life in this University.”last_img read more

Where horseplay is the point

first_imgThe Harvard Polo Club has enjoyed a revival over the past six years, following a 12-year hiatus. Since the husband-and-wife coaching team of Crocker and Cissie Snow took the reins in 2006, the program, which dates to early in the 20th century, has blossomed to include both men’s and women’s varsity and junior varsity squads.The club is a blend of the competitive and the collegial. It faces off against some of the top college teams in the country and welcomes all skill levels. Beginners start by swinging a mallet while standing on the ground, then graduate to a wooden polo pony, and eventually to the real thing.“What’s most gratifying for me is working with so many interesting, sharp, and committed undergraduates,” said Crocker Snow ’61, who, like his wife, is an accomplished player. “Unlike many college teams, most of our players have no polo experience at all, and some have no riding at the outset. Those who get hooked put in a lot of hard work riding and practicing to the point that the varsity teams now have winning records.”At a practice in Hamilton, Mass., last fall, the more experienced riders and players helped the newcomers to ready the horses, and rode in tandem with them in an enclosed outdoor arena.“I have a longer way to go than most people on the team,” said freshman Ethan Samet, who had only ridden a handful of times before signing up. “But I feel like I have been getting better and better each time.”Recently the ponies hobnobbed on campus with polo enthusiast Tommy Lee Jones ’69, the recipient of this year’s Harvard Arts Medal. An avid polo player, Jones regularly hosts members of the polo club at his Texas ranch and at his home in Florida, and has donated numerous ponies to the Harvard program. The actor took part in the “Adopt a Horse Auction” held at the Murr Center to support the club’s efforts to purchase a permanent base, a small farm with a barn and riding ring adjacent to the Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton, where the club has its home competitions.This summer, members of the club will head to Europe for a series of matches in Italy, Switzerland, France, and in England, where they will compete at the famed Guards Polo Club against a team from Yale University. Goal setting In the match, Amanullah reaches for the ball, eventually working her way toward her first goal. Minor adjustments Snow leans over to adjust a player’s saddle strap before heading to the arena. Out in the country Cissie Snow (on right, wearing vest) coaches her junior varsity women before their match against the University of Pennsylvania at their home arena in Hamilton, Mass. Snow and her husband, Crocker Snow Jr. ’61, lead the polo club. Horsing around The Harvard University Polo Club dates back to the early 20th century. Three of today’s players Jane Amero (from left), Mike Kapps, and Katie Gamble roll their ponies’ bandages before riding. Mallets Polo mallets stand at attention. Jockeying Roden (left) and Samet cast late-day shadows on the boards of the arena. Rose Lincoln/Staff Photographer Watchdog Poppy, one of the Snows’ two Labrador retrievers, keeps watch while ponies and riders circle inside the arena. Fanfare Players and parents watch on the offensive end of the arena as the women’s junior varsity team goes on to beat UPenn. The art of the mallet Isabella Roden ’13 (left), a varsity player, teaches newcomer Ethan Samet ’15 how to hold his mallet in the arena. Horse whisperers Heavy duty New rider Ethan Samet struggles with his saddle and saddle pad. Hoisted Helping Harvard’s Sarah Amanullah (right) get a leg up is opposing player Spencer Marston of the University of Pennsylvania. They competed at Harvard’s home arena in Hamilton, Mass. Idyllic The sun sets behind ponies and riders at the Harvard University Polo Club.last_img read more

Carbon counter

first_imgAtmospheric scientists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Nanjing University have produced the first “bottom-up” estimates of China’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, for 2005 to 2009, and the first statistically rigorous estimates of the uncertainties surrounding China’s CO2 emissions.The independent estimates, rooted in part in measurements of pollutants both at the sources and in the air, may be the most accurate totals to date. The resulting figures offer an unbiased basis on which China might measure its progress toward its well-publicized CO2 control goals.The findings were published July 4 in the journal Atmospheric Environment.“China’s emissions of CO2 are of central concern in efforts to combat global climate change,” says lead author Yu Zhao, a former postdoctoral researcher at SEAS who is now a professor at the Nanjing University School of the Environment in China. “But despite all of the attention to China’s CO2 emissions, they’re less well-quantified than most people realize.”Existing estimates for these emissions are calculated “top-down,” based on annual energy statistics that are released by the Chinese government. The nation has only once officially estimated its CO2 emissions, based on national energy statistics from 1994, although it is now constructing a data system to produce periodic national greenhouse gas inventories. Non-Chinese organizations, such as the U.S. Department of Energy and the Netherlands Environment Agency, produce widely cited CO2 estimates for China (among other countries), but these are also based on the national energy data.A study published last month by a China–U.K.–U.S. team in Nature Climate Change spotlighted a large disparity in estimates of Chinese CO2 emissions when the numbers were based on national energy statistics versus summed provincial data. To illustrate the contrast, those researchers had applied a standardized U.N. protocol for estimating the emissions of any developing country by sector.The new Harvard–Nanjing study goes deeper, however, constructing a “bottom-up” emission inventory that is specific to China’s energy and technology mix. It combines the results of Chinese field studies of CO2 emissions from diverse combustion processes with a plant-by-plant data set for power generation, independent research on transportation and rural biomass use, and provincial-level energy statistics for the remaining sectors.The Harvard-Nanjing team believes provincial energy data to be more accurate than national statistics because the provincial data have been empirically tested in peer-reviewed atmospheric studies that compare the expected emissions of conventional air pollutants to actual instrumental observations by satellites and ground stations. Provincial statistics also take into account the large quantities of coal produced by small, illegal mines.“There are several different ways to estimate emissions of greenhouse gases or air pollutants, from those designed to support policy processes to those made by scientists researching atmospheric transport and chemistry,” explains co-author Chris Nielsen, executive director of the Harvard China Project, which is based at SEAS.The former methods suit the needs of policy, attributing emissions to identifiable sources for actionable controls, but the latter are often more environmentally accurate, according to Nielsen.“The methods used by atmospheric scientists can be more complete, incorporating new research on dispersed sources that are poorly represented in official statistics or weakly targeted by policy — such as the burning of crop wastes in fields or biofuels in poor, rural homes,” Nielsen explains. “The data are also more detailed in spatial terms. This allows a comparison of emission estimates to the pollution levels measured at the surface, or from space, testing the underlying energy data in the process.”The new study capitalizes on prior tests and a bottom-up data framework that has been demonstrated for conventional air pollutants to produce a more thorough estimate of China’s CO2 emissions.The new study also quantifies the uncertainty of the emission totals, applying formal statistical methods. For instance, the team found that the 95 percent confidence interval for the 2005 CO2 estimate lies between −9 percent and +11 percent of the central value. This relatively wide range means that measuring China’s achievement of its national CO2 control targets may be more difficult — and potentially more contentious—than generally recognized by Chinese and international policy actors.“The levels of uncertainty indicate that Chinese domestic frameworks to set control targets for CO2 emissions at scales larger than individual factories, such as provinces or sectors, may reflect unwarranted confidence in the measurability and verifiability of the impacts of policy interventions,” says senior author Michael B. McElroy, Gilbert Butler Professor of Environmental Studies at SEAS.“Such levels of uncertainty aren’t unique to China among developing and emerging economies,” Zhao cautions. “All have less-developed data systems than those that have been built up over decades to serve energy markets and environmental regulation in the United States and other industrialized countries. It’s critical that international agreements to limit CO2 emissions recognize these differences in national data conditions.”Beyond the policy implications, the availability of accurate estimates of China’s CO2 emissions (and the related uncertainties in the data) can improve scientists’ understanding of the global carbon cycle and the physical processes driving global climate change.The work was funded by the National Science Foundation.last_img read more

Beyond the horizon

first_imgHarvard, a university deeply involved in exploring and explaining the world and changing it for the better, is on the cutting edge in myriad fields. Harvard is making a difference now, and planning to lead the way in the next decade.Here’s a look at where the University and the world that it embraces are likely to be 10 years down the road, in five areas: health, science, education, the arts, and globalization.In many cases, as the examples below indicate, the future is now, and the road ahead already well-marked.HealthBy Alvin Powell, Harvard Staff WriterIs the long-envisioned future of health care finally coming? You know the one: full of high-tech wizardry, miracle drugs knocking out tumors with precision, medical care tuned to your DNA, and your DNA tuned to improve your health.It’s the future where stem cells affirm the vast interest in them and help you get well, where aging is delayed, and where medical gains continue against AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, while perhaps eliminating an age-old enemy, polio.GSAS student Ryoji Amamoto performs research sectioning axolotl brains in the lab of Morris Kahn Associate Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Paola Arlotta. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerHarvard specialists in health and medicine say that dramatic advances in tools, technology, methods, and basic knowledge over the past 20 years will bring some of that future to reality over the next 10 years. In some cases, it’s already here.The future won’t be all roses. Despite expected advances, age-old impediments to health will remain. Institutional inaction still will allow preventable diseases to kill millions. Some neglected diseases will continue to bring death and disability to millions more. People will continue to undermine their own health, smoking, eating too much, and exercising too little. In a pernicious wrinkle, the obesity and diabetes epidemics may morph into afflictions of the poor.Amid this mix of hope and heartbreak, health experts say that the labs, faculty, and students at Harvard and its affiliated institutions will keep breaking new ground, nurtured by the region’s academic brainpower, biotech prowess, and pharmaceutical research. Even experienced scientists, assessing recent research and looking at the decade to come, are excited by what they see.“If you look at the pace of progress and of discovery over the last few years, and if it continues to move at the same pace, it’s very exciting,” said Daniel Haber, the Kurt J. Isselbacher/Peter D. Schwartz Professor of Oncology at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and head of the Cancer Center at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).Since miracle cures often fizzle, Harvard faculty members offered their thoughts on what’s to come with a note of caution, summed up by Walter Willett, Fredrick Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), who said, “There’s nothing so hard to predict as the future.”Custom-tuned treatmentOne shift that seems certain is that patients will get ever-more-personalized care, based on their genetic profiles — and those of their ailments.George Church, the Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics at HMS, said that decoding a person’s genome will get dramatically cheaper. As that cost goes down and the reliability goes up, Church expects genetic analysis to become common.“It probably will happen all at once,” Church said. “There will be a change in thinking by physicians, by doctors, and hospitals. And if patients read in the paper that a parent got an answer for their kids’ illness, others will want it. [There may also be a change] if health care providers see ways to save money.”Church expects exponential improvements in DNA technology to allow analyses of our microbiome and of our environment, and for genomics’ tools to be bent toward prevention as well as treatment. New genome-editing technology — already in use in his lab — may one day edit harmful genes, such as the mutations that cause breast and ovarian cancers, out of the genome entirely.‘One of the things that is unique about Harvard is its collaborative nature. The interactions are going to pay off.’A deeper understanding of disease genetics will help scientists at Harvard and its affiliated hospitals devise treatments in major areas such as cancer care, according to Haber, who a decade ago was among the first to trace a lung cancer drug’s effectiveness to the tumor’s genetic profile. Haber said researchers have just tapped the tip of the iceberg of that targeted approach. He also predicts an expansion of immunotherapy, which mobilizes the body’s immune system against tumor cells, and advances in early detection by finding cancer cells circulating in the blood — a focus of his lab.Leonard Zon, professor of stem cell and regenerative biology and Grousbeck Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard-affiliated Boston Children’s Hospital, said the future of stem cell-based regenerative medicine appears bright. Stem cells have already sparked a revolution in the lab, easing the study of diseases by allowing researchers to create cell lines afflicted by various ailments. Zon is cautious about over-promising treatments based on stem cell work, but said that it’s appropriate to get excited about recent developments concerning induced pluripotent stem cells.“What’s going on is very impressive,” Zon said, adding that the atmosphere at Harvard makes it an exciting place for such work. “One of the things that is unique about Harvard is its collaborative nature. The interactions are going to pay off.”Even as medicine gets more personal and the approaches to illness more targeted, researchers such as HMS Genetics Professor David Sinclair want to address several conditions at once by attacking aging.Sinclair, named among Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in April, tracked the longevity effects of caloric restriction and the red wine molecule resveratrol on  DNA. He found a set of genes, called SIRTs, that are activated by resveratrol and caloric restriction. Sinclair believes that small molecules developed to mimic and magnify their function will work to fight some effects of aging.Promising drug candidates are being tested in human trials, and Sinclair is hopeful one will prove itself within the next decade.“This isn’t wishful thinking, it is real. The question is whether, over the next 10 to 15 years, we can make practical use of it,” he said.We’ll still be what we eatThe global obesity epidemic has a less promising future, according to Willett. The well-off and better-educated appear to be heeding advice about healthy eating and exercise, but there’s no slowdown in weight gain among poorer populations, here or abroad. Improvement among those populations may require addressing not just education but barriers such as the higher cost of healthier foods and lack of access to them in neighborhoods far from grocery stores.In the coming years, Willett expects science to continue to inform medicine and the public. The long-term Nurses’ Health Study and its successors have great potential to shed light on health. New cohorts are enrolling as the original ones now highlight ailments of aging, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Modern analytical tools give researchers more ways to explore findings, using blood samples and cheek swabs for DNA analysis, and fecal samples that permit analysis of the microbiome.Though lifestyle-related ailments and chronic diseases are growing fields of interest, infectious disease remains a major concern. Dyann Wirth, the Richard Pearson Strong Professor of Infectious Disease, director of the Harvard Malaria Initiative, and chair of the HSPH’s Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said age-old scourges and newer plagues, such as AIDS, will be part of the infectious disease landscape over the next decade.Still, modern scientific tools are illuminating pathogens, disease vectors, and the immune response as never before, Wirth said. Drug-discovery efforts are expanding hope for new treatments against tuberculosis, malaria, and other ailments, and eradication of polio and guinea worm disease appear possible. Political will, however, is as important as medical advancement, Wirth said.“I think the next decade is going to be a very exciting time because the tools and methods developed over the last two decades are really being brought to bear on infectious disease,” Wirth said.ScienceBy Peter Reuell, Harvard Staff WriterAstrophysicist Dimitar Sasselov likes to say that all science is a quest to answer three basic questions: What is the origin and nature of the universe? What is the nature of life? Where does consciousness come from?Researchers across Harvard, from physicists to neurobiologists, are working to answer those questions, and many say that the next decade may offer breakthroughs in a host of fields, from the development of robotic exo-skeletons designed to help people walk, to novel, renewable methods of generating energy.Sasselov, the Phillips Professor of Astronomy and director of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative, has dedicated much of his professional life to the search for exo-planets, which lie beyond the bounds of our Solar System.Recent research, he said, shows there may be as many as a billion exo-planets resembling Earth in our galaxy, which means that many of them are relatively near, opening the door to much closer exploration of their atmospheres, and possibly finding answers to questions about life itself.“We don’t actually have a definition of the nature of the phenomenon we call life,” he said. “What we have is only one example — ours — and we know in science that can lead us to create paradigms that suggest it will always look the same.To help answer those questions, Sasselov said that over the next decade Harvard researchers will turn to two new space telescopes. The first, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, will enable researchers to perform a wide-reaching survey aimed at identifying potentially habitable planets nearby. The James Webb Space Telescope, meanwhile, will serve as a replacement for the Hubble scope, and will be used to explore the atmosphere and other characteristics of nearby planets.“In order to conduct a search for alien life successfully, we need to learn more about what life is,” he said. “We created the Origins of Life Initiative to facilitate collaboration between astronomers and biologists, biochemists, and molecular biologists. We shouldn’t expect that life on other planets will be a carbon copy of life on Earth. I think this idea is starting to sink in, and we are on the threshold of some very important discoveries.”Understanding the inner brainWhile Sasselov predicts that the next decade will hold vast insights into our place in the universe, Jeff Lichtman, the Jeremy R. Knowles Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Santiago Ramon y Cajal Professor of Arts and Sciences, believes those 10 years also will offer an unimagined new understanding of the brain’s inner workings.Using the “high-throughput” electron microscopy technique developed in his lab, Lichtman and his colleagues hope to produce a connectome, or wiring diagram, of the brain offering insights into everything from how memory is stored to how certain degenerative diseases affect the brain. With today’s technology, Lichtman said, the process is fast enough to capture approximately a billion pixels of data per second, enough to soon map the brains of small mammals like mice.“With today’s technology, it’s still out of the question to do a human brain,” Lichtman said. “But if we look 10 years into the future, then one could begin to think about doing even larger brains. But at some point, we hope to get to a level of detail where it’s predictable what’s going to be in the next piece we haven’t yet cut. We hope to see enough of the wiring diagram that the structure will begin to pop out from the noise.”That day may be approaching faster than many realize, he said.In a recent study that examined just three-billionths of a mouse brain, researchers found evidence of organized structure, suggesting that the brain’s connections proceed according to predictable patterns. A decade from now, Lichtman predicted, researchers will be imaging entire brains, and the resultant insights will shed light on fields as varied as criminal justice, religion, sociology, and politics.“When you think of something like addiction or criminal behavior, from a neuroscience perspective we have always appreciated that they are probably related to the way the brain works. And once the brain becomes an objective reality as opposed to a black box that we will never get into, then you have to start thinking about these things differently.”Much cheaper renewable energyWhen Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy Dan Nocera thinks about the next decade, two words come to mind: distribution and storage.As the cost of renewable technologies continues to fall — photovoltaics could soon drop below 50 cents per kilowatt hour — Nocera anticipates that their adoption would continue to grow, leading to a far better-distributed system of energy generation than exists today.“I think the most transformative thing that will happen in the next decade is energy is going to get more distributed,” he said. “As that happens, there are going to be large social consequences that come with it. There will be new business models that will be developed, as well as new issues of policy and law that will have to be understood. And Harvard is in a position to play a role in all those areas.”In recent years, Nocera has led the charge toward solar fuels, with the development of his “artificial leaf,” a device that uses artificial photosynthesis to create renewable fuels. Synthetic biologists at Harvard Medical School (HMS), meanwhile, have focused on new methods for generating liquid fuels. Researchers at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have made strides in developing flow batteries and have proposed a device that could take advantage of Earth’s infrared emissions to generate electricity.“Harvard has real strength in renewable-energy generation, through the development of new materials, new methods of photovoltaics, and manufacturing processes. But the other area is storage, both in batteries and in fuels,” Nocera said. “Harvard is going to be a player in each of those fields. We already have expertise in those areas. Some of the strongest faculty members on campus are working to address those areas.”As energy generation becomes more distributed, Nocera said, the issue of storage — and not just in batteries — will become ever more pressing.In the developed world, families one day may generate the electricity they need through roof-mounted solar cells or fuel cells in the backyard, but a key part of the technological picture will be the ability to store excess energy in the grid. By comparison, the developing world has relatively little infrastructure, so Nocera predicts that technologies for generation will be matched with those for local storage of power.“Storage, in my estimation, is the key to renewables,” Nocera said. “There is no question in my mind that will be a major area of development for renewable energy, because once you can store energy, it becomes a commodity. That plays directly into Harvard’s strengths in renewable energy and research into new technology, as well as the “One Harvard,” one-world vision of the University. The energy challenges of the next decade are global, and Harvard will have a large role in addressing them.”Robotics on the cusp“We’re at a tipping point,” said Conor Walsh, assistant professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering, about the current state of robotics. “I started working on robotics and exoskeletons as a graduate student at MIT, and it seemed as though the real-world applications were a very long way off. Walking robots weren’t walking in labs, they were falling. And exoskeletons were good exercise machines.”In the last decade, however, the field has grown by leaps and bounds and is now poised, Walsh believes, to enter an age of development and application.While the vacuuming Roomba is still the most common robot with which humans interact, Walsh predicts that the next decade will go a long way toward changing that.“As a field, robotics has been around for a long time,” he said. “Robots are pervasive in industry and manufacturing settings. Robots are welding and painting cars. They are very widely used in industry. But they’re not commonly used in settings where they have to interact with people, and I think we’ll see that change in the next 10 years.”Recently, researchers have demonstrated concepts as varied as using robotic exoskeletons to help injured people to walk, and robotic “bees” that are capable of controlled flight. Over the next decade, Walsh predicts that such “co-robots” will become increasingly common, with one potential application being to assist people with limited mobility by helping them to walk farther or faster than they might otherwise be able to do.“Robotics is definitely an area that’s growing at Harvard,” Walsh said. “Harvard, in particular, is a leader in the area of ‘soft’ robots. What we’re trying to do is take a fresh look at robotics. If we want to design them for people, how do we make them soft? How do we make them light? How do we make it easier for them to interact with people?”The move toward quantum computersWhile such robots are on the cusp of the future, the technology that most people interact with on a daily basis is the computer, and Amir Yacoby, professor of physics and applied physics, expects the next decade to bring important changes to the digital devices.Yacoby is one of several researchers at Harvard working to create quantum computers, which take advantage of quantum mechanics to encode bits of information as both one and zero simultaneously, and perform multiple computations in parallel, making the devices far more powerful than conventional computers.“We are at a place today that is far ahead of where we anticipated we would be,” Yacoby said. “Today we have several ways of implementing quantum bits,” units of quantum information, “all of which look very promising.”At present, he said, researchers are investigating a handful of systems. They range from ones that use electron spins in semiconductors, to ones that find atomic-scale impurities in diamond crystals called nitrogen-vacancy centers, to those that rely on superconducting circuits to trapped ions, and within each implementation researchers have created several working quantum bits.In addition, researchers have developed new paradigms for quantum computation, in recent years creating materials called topological insulators. When brought into contact with traditional electrical insulators, Yacoby said, the laws of physics demand that conduction electrons be found at the interface of the two materials. By exciting those electrons, he said, in theory scientists can create quantum bits that can perform calculations.Though it is unlikely that quantum computers will replace conventional desktop computers by 2024, Yacoby said he expects to see various implementations of quantum systems continue to improve as researchers become more adept at creating quantum bits.“Right now, we’re pushing the forefront on all the different applications,” he said. “Harvard is very much at the forefront in using spin quantum bits and in research into NV [nitrogen vacancy] centers and applications using them. Harvard is also among the leaders in research into the topological approach. The field is growing exponentially, and I can only see it expanding further and further into the future.”EducationBy Christina Pazzanese, Harvard Staff WriterAfter centuries of relative torpor, technology breakthroughs have begun to reshape teaching and learning in ways that have prompted paradigm shifts around pedagogy, assessment, and scholarly research, and have upended assumptions of how and where learning takes place, the student-teacher dynamic, the functions of libraries and museums, and the changing role of scholars as creators and curators of knowledge.Michael Sandel, Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government, teaches a popular interactive course, “Justice,” which is also an online course available across the globe. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer“There are massive changes happening right now,” said Robert A. Lue, the Richard L. Menschel Faculty Director of the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning and faculty director of HarvardX. “What has brought it into particularly tight focus now is that the revolution in online education has raised a whole host of very important questions about: What do students do with faculty face-to-face; what is the value of the brick-and-mortar experience; and how does technology in general really support teaching and learning in exciting, new ways? It’s been a major catalyst, if you will, for a reconsideration of how we teach in the classroom.”While the Web is 25 years old, education has been slower than most fields to embrace the Internet’s transformational power. Traditional ways of thinking about how humans learn and about which teaching strategies are most effective had dominated educational discourse for centuries.“I think in education there is, perhaps understandably, a conservatism built around the privileging of how knowledge is communicated and the concern that new modes of communicating, of connecting, of sharing, may somehow lose or diminish the rigor of the exchange,” said Lue.Dynamic, practice-based learningClassrooms of the future are likely to resemble the laboratory or studio model, as more disciplines abandon the passive lecture and seminar formats for dynamic, practice-based learning, Harvard academicians say.“There’s a move away from using the amphitheater as a learning space … toward a room that looks more like a studio where students sit in groups around tables, and the focus is on them, not on the instructor, and the instructor becomes more the ‘guide outside’ rather than the ‘sage onstage,’ facilitating the learning process rather than simply teaching and hoping people will learn,” said Eric Mazur, Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.It’s a shift that’s changing teaching in the humanities as well. “It’s a project-based model where students learn by actually being engaged in a collaborative, team-based experience of actually creating original scholarship, developing a small piece of a larger mosaic — getting their hands dirty, working with digital media tools, making arguments in video, doing ethnographic work,” said Jeffrey Schnapp, founder and faculty director of metaLAB (at) Harvard, an arts and humanities research and teaching unit of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society.Massive open online courses, peer-to-peer learning and mentoring, computer-based testing, and flipped classrooms will make for a newly dynamic and individualized classroom experience.The flipped classroom, where students view lectures before attending sessions focused on problem-solving and group activities, will become widely integrated, predicted Sherri Rose, assistant professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, one of dozens of faculty who gathered in April for a workshop sponsored by the Harvard Initiative forLearning and Teaching to consider and share ideas about teaching statistics and machine-based learning and curricula.“This type of teaching is already being embraced, but becomes increasingly feasible given the continuing technological leaps that allow faculty to record lectures in their offices and share videos easily via various online platforms,” Rose said in an email. “Interactive classroom frameworks are adaptable to many disciplines, and can be particularly useful in STEM [science, technology, engineering, math] courses where students are forced to confront the boundaries of their knowledge and grasp of the material while learning from students in other concentrations.”How and when learning is measured also are likely to undergo a major shift.“I do think testing will change and become more focused on testing higher-level cognitive skills — problem-solving, writing, open-ended questions, and the like,” said James E. Ryan, dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, in an email.“I also think that the uses of testing will expand and that we will see more frequent, low-stakes assessments that will help guide instruction and will be one way to make instruction more personalized,” he said. “So instead of once-a-year, high stakes tests, we are likely to see more weekly, or even daily, brief assessments to gauge mastery of a topic, which, once reached, will allow a student to move to the next topic.”Too often, officials say, exams still test skills like memory and rote problem solving that are no longer necessary, since smartphones and computers have taken up those tasks.“I think in higher education, particularly at an institution like Harvard, we should focus on higher-order thinking skills, skills that are related to judgment, analysis, creativity, and not the lowest-order thinking skills like memory and procedures,” said Mazur. “I think that will force us to completely reconsider our approaches to assessment, especially in the sciences.”An expansion of the i-labLearning that takes place outside of the classroom will play a more critical role, as projects now underway — such as the renewal of 12 undergraduate Houses to include wired, dedicated spaces and expansion of the Harvard Innovation Lab (i-lab) — will broaden the collaborative possibilities.Now three years old, the i-lab has proven a wildly popular beehive, where students and faculty nurture the spark of entrepreneurial ideas through lectures and workshops, work and meeting spaces, and connections with partners. This summer will see the opening of the Harvard Launch Lab, a new space that offers the i-lab experience for alumni, and plans are afoot to bring the i-lab concept to locations beyond Cambridge, and online.For scholars, the growing importance of statistics and big data are altering the way ideas are studied and communicated both inside and outside the academic community. As tools such as data visualization and text mining penetrate research, scholars will learn by doing and become the curators of physical and digital collections, producing visual artifacts in what will be a newly-critical skill set in scholarship, said the metaLAB’s Schnapp, a Dante scholar.“Those artifacts that are created, if they’re well designed and well conceived, not only can convey forms of knowledge that are being argued about, interpreted, and produced, but they are also artifacts that are very accessible and sometimes appealing even to all kinds of audiences that might not be engaged by a standard narrative, argumentative scholarly form of practice.”The boundaries that separate the library, the museum, and the classroom are likely to dissolve as the first two entities continue to evolve from a knowledge repository model to an activity and services model.The old notion that libraries generally exist to support research and that learning only happens in the classroom, Schnapp said, “is giving way to a model where the walls are very porous, and where the teaching and research happens all over the place, it’s ubiquitous, and it happens right in the presence of physical collections that may be housed over in the library, or they may be housed in the museum. But the sense is that all of these institutions are engaged in a common endeavor.”ArtsBy Colleen Walsh, Harvard Staff WriterHalf a century ago, a sweeping, curved concrete structure opened next to the iconic Georgian Revival-style Fogg Art Museum. Architectural purists howled. The Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, architect LeCorbusier’s only building in North America, defied a beloved aesthetic. But it also set off a critical discussion about creativity, and helped to spur an exciting era for the arts at Harvard. By 2024, the arts at Harvard promise to be equally daring, with myriad changes in how they are practiced, studied, and displayed.According to several scholars and administrators, the University’s future curriculum is likely to feature courses that fuse traditionally disparate areas such as music and neuroscience, building on current efforts to incorporate art and art-making into a range of formerly walled-off disciplines. It is likely that undergraduates will find new arts concentrations and secondary fields, beyond the visual arts, theater, and architecture. Graduate students will have more arts-related courses and more ways to incorporate the arts into dissertations and theses.Students will connect to Harvard’s collections in original, dynamic ways, officials say. The University’s physical campus will evolve too, with new spaces for viewing, studying, and making art. Interdisciplinary collaborations will explore ways in which the arts at Harvard can help to change the world by fueling the next generation of cultural entrepreneurs.In the curriculumIn 2007, Harvard President Drew Faust assembled a task force to explore how the arts could fill a greater role in campus life. The following year, the committee released a report saying the arts needed to be an “integral part of the cognitive life of the University.” In the years that followed, in line with those recommendations, scholars began offering a range of courses that merge art-making with the humanities, the sciences, and the social sciences.“If I were to imagine the University in five, 10 years’ time, it would be one in which artistic and humanistic practice is incorporated in the discrete fields that practice the arts and humanities, whether it’s literature or filmmaking or art-making or art criticism, but further, in which humanistic and artistic practices are in dialogue with other fields,” said Diana Sorensen, Harvard’s dean of arts and humanities.“It could be engineering and the visual arts; it could be science and philosophy; it could be questions of economics and the study of local cultures. … The University of the future has to think of intellectual problems, which are in and of themselves worthy of disinterested attention, but also — this I would underline — the world as posing problems that can only be addressed and resolved by bringing all the disciplines together.”“In five or 10 years’ time, Harvard would really look like an arts school in addition to being everything else that it is already,” Sorensen said.Like Sorensen, Jill Johnson, director of Harvard’s Dance Program, envisions an arts landscape that blends artistic practice and study with other fields. Dance, Johnson said, can influence motion capture design, urban planning and architecture, biomechanics and cognition, “not to mention the fiscal impact of the arts on community and economic development, or dance’s metaphorical place is business or lawmaking.”“At Harvard, dance, the arts, and the humanities can be a part of an integrated course of study that helps us prepare students to negotiate the world.”Art as scholarship will play a role in Harvard’s future, according to Robb Moss, chair of the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies. As professors increasingly incorporate art into their classrooms, he said, encouraging students toward creative outlets like making a film instead of writing a paper, the very nature of scholarship can be potentially redefined.“There’s a thought out there that’s gaining some kind of momentum that it might be possible for visual and audio of a different sort, work that we traditionally think of as art, to move into the arena of scholarship that perhaps offers differing ways of knowing the world,” said Moss. “It’s an open possibility, and the work itself will begin to define the field in the next 10 years.”For much of Harvard’s history, the arts have been considered part of the extracurricular realm, with thousands of students participating in more than 100 student-led musical, performance, and visual arts groups supported by the Office for the Arts. But this year, for the first time, students received College credit for participation in the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra. Many observers consider that change a milestone for the intellectual legitimacy of the arts.“This migration represents a validation of this work as a serious, University-worthy, academic endeavor,” said Jack Megan, who directs the Office for the Arts.On the near horizon for Harvard students is a new concentration in theater, dance, and media that blends historical and theoretical study with arts practice. The future may bring a master of fine arts program or graduate programs in the arts that would capitalize on Harvard’s strengths in areas such as documentary film or creative writing and encourage artists to work across various fields.There is an advantage in creating something like that from scratch, said Cogan University Professor Stephen Greenblatt, chair of the Task Force on the Arts.“We have the human resources, and we have the intellectual power to do something amazing, truly at a global scale. We are in the position to be able to rethink in a completely innovative way the redrawing of the boundaries of arts and the humanities and the sciences.”The physical spacesIn the future, Harvard will have even more performance, exhibit, and art-making spaces. One suggestion would organize an arts corridor along Garden Street with housing for artists in residence, a creative-writing center, art studios, and greater collaboration among the nearby Harvard Dance Center, Arts @ 29 Garden, and the American Repertory Theater(A.R.T.).Arts officials expect to see more public art installations on campus, building on the success of the Common Spaces initiative that introduced a collection of colorful chairs and theater and music performances into the Old Yard and the renovated Science Center Plaza.“I’d like to see more art all around us,” said Lizabeth Cohen, dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, who helped to develop a biennial public art competition in which students from across the University compete to build a site-specific installation in Radcliffe’s Yard. “In 10 years, I would hope to see a Harvard campus that is very stimulating aesthetically and reminds us as we move through it that our campus is a canvas that should reflect the same brilliance and creativity that we find in the University’s museums, libraries, and classrooms.”In November, the renovated and expanded Harvard Art Museums will allow students, faculty, and the public to engage with and study their vast collections in dynamic new ways.Some in Harvard’s arts community envision a space like the popular i-lab, replicating an incubator of innovation and entrepreneurship, dedicated to the arts.“I think there is an opportunity to do something extravagant and wonderful in Allston,” said Moss. “The nanotechnologists are walking next to the sculptors are walking next to the anthropologists are walking next to theoretical physicists. … For me, that would be a kind of dream, to integrate the arts into the sciences and social sciences in some structural, architectural way.”An international rippleTen years out, more artists will be at Harvard for broader residencies, bringing with them more global perspectives. Musicians have led the way. Jazz artist Herbie Hancock delivered this year’s Norton Lectures, an arts tradition since 1924. Over the past four years, trumpeter and lecturer Wynton Marsalis connected listeners to the cultural currents and critical history behind decades of groundbreaking music and dance.Scholars see a bright future for the Deans’ Cultural Entrepreneurship Challenge, which awards grants for projects that help to promote and sustain the arts. Developed in partnership with Harvard Business School, the division of arts and humanities in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project, a nonprofit inspired by the cultural exchange along ancient Eurasian trade routes, the competition has spawned a host of creative startups, including last year’s grand prize winners, who developed an online platform that connects users to art and artists in their area.Improving the world is a driving ethos for A.R.T. artistic director Diane Paulus. In planning her performance season, Paulus told the Gazette last year, she searches out works that will “catalyze dialogue, catalyze debate, shows that will reach beyond the stage into an energy that will bring a community together around an issue, a topic, a point of view.” She is pushing the boundaries of the stage, collaborating with departments and Schools from across the University.“It’s not arts in a silo,” said Paulus. “It’s arts actively reaching across to crack open the most important issues of our times.” Paulus will continue to collaborate with artists beyond Harvard. The A.R.T. is developing a project called “Nomad Two Worlds” with artists from Australia working with Harvard undergraduates.“The notion of a global Harvard is something I’ve taken to heart. We now live in an age where we can collaborate with artists from all over the world.”GlobalBy Corydon Ireland, Harvard Staff WriterOn May 9, 1761, Harvard Professor John Winthrop packed up two telescopes and a pendulum clock and boarded a sloop in Boston Harbor. He and two students were on their way to a hilltop in Newfoundland to observe a rare astronomical event, the Transit of Venus, when that planet crosses between the Earth and the sun. Their 13-day journey was the first international trip sponsored by Harvard. In his journal, Winthrop reflected on the next transits — in 1874, 1996, and 2004. He wrote, “How Astronomy transports us into distant futurity!”Winthrop, the Hollis Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, could hardly have envisioned how international Harvard would become. During the presidency of Charles W. Eliot (1869-1909), Harvard moved to increase the diversity of its students. Still, the Class of 1914 included only eight international students; the Class of 2014 includes more than 400, counting dual citizens. University-wide, the number of international students since 1998 has shot up 35 percent. Today, there are nearly 55,000 international alumni from 180 countries, a fifth of all living graduates.Harvard Business School (HBS) has the most international alumni of the University’s Schools, more than 50,000. In its first year, 1908, HBS accepted its first two international MBA students, from Paris and Shanghai. Today, students from 68 other countries constitute a third of M.B.A. students in the Class of 2014.HBS has eight global centers on five continents, and more than 60 percent of its faculty-written case studies have a global perspective, from treatises on French wines and Japanese earthquakes to privatized power in Nigeria.Nearly 900 international research projectsMore broadly, Harvard as a whole sponsors 13 international offices, 113 international alumni clubs and contacts, close to 300 study-abroad and exchange programs, and nearly 900 international research projects.But to use Winthrop’s prescient word, what about “futurity” of global Harvard? A dozen University voices say that the short answer is that within a decade there will be more, including more students from abroad, more students going abroad, more classes taught abroad, more research in more countries and regions, more outreach to do more good around the world, and more global influences on a Harvard education.“There are any number of ways the University’s wings will span the world even more 10 years into the future than today,” said Jorge Dominguez, Harvard’s vice provost for international affairs. “Harvard will come to be seen as the world’s first public university.” That means “universal access,” he said, with acceptance of the world’s brightest students that is “passport-blind, need-blind, and all degrees.”To be the world’s university also means expounding what Harvard is known for already, offering “a public good for the world,” he said. “We are generating knowledge. New ways to cure Parkinson’s will be just as good to a Swede as to someone in the United States.”“Harvard also has a geographic bet,” he said, “and it’s called the world.” So instead of establishing international branch campuses, Harvard is more likely to reach deeper into the world through research, centers, and courses. “There is no region in the world we are writing off, none,” said Dominguez, who hopes for expanded footprints in the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Europe. “We’re not doing any of this backing away or reducing.”Comparative literature scholar Martin Puchner, the Byron and Anita Wien Professor of Drama and of English and Comparative Literature, as well as general editor of “The Norton Anthology of World Literature,” said, “There is an intense international interest in what we do. And at the same time there is an immense need to send our students out into the world and make them learn about the world.”Expanded reach for the humanitiesThe University’s global reach in the humanities will leap outward in the next decade, Puchner said. The Harvard-based World Literature Institute holds monthlong summer intensives abroad for graduate students, a model “that could extend to undergraduates tomorrow.” Within a year or so, the University will have its first professor of Anglophone literature — focusing on work in English by non-native speakers. The course “Masterpieces of World Literature” debuts next spring and will go online by the fall of 2015. “It’s so exciting,” said Puchner, “teaching a course in world literature that will be taught to the world.”Extending Harvard’s reach internationally is exciting, but vital too, said Felix Oberholzer-Gee, the Swiss-born senior associate dean for international development at HBS. The flow of knowledge no longer streams exclusively from mature economies to developing ones, and by 2024 this cross-fertilization will be “quite dispersed geographically,” he said, a trend suggesting there will be many HBS research centers around the world. At the same time, “The class we graduate every year will be more global,” said Oberholzer-Gee, who is also the Andreas Andresen Professor of Business Administration. “We will see people who come through different models of education.”By 2024, there will also be more global outreach through more online courses, “but the nature of the courses will have changed,” he said, by answering a crucial question that bedevils distance learning today: How do you produce commitment in students? Normally that results from their being on campus together, responding in class, taking exams, and otherwise interacting. Real-time, online analogs are being developed at HBS, including an experimental room where “instead of 60 chairs we have 60 screens,” said Oberholzer-Gee.Reaching out globally means grasping another dimension, he said, “the big shift from knowing to doing … getting better at using the knowledge that we have to really contribute to the solution of world problems.” The curriculum of 2024, said Oberholzer-Gee, will be “very rich in experiential learning,” which in turn often means travel abroad to understand the cultural challenges of working together.Dominguez extolled the learning at Harvard that takes place abroad, often mixed with the business of doing good. For instance, public health initiatives in Botswana and Tanzania have been underway for years, as has biodiversity fieldwork active in Kenya.Instructing ­­— and learning from — the worldThe field of design also will extend its reach in the next decade, sharing Harvard’s research and in turn learning from other cultures. “Our engagement is going to intensify globally,” said Ali Malkawi, a Jordan-born professor of architectural technology at the Graduate School of Design (GSD) and director of the new Harvard Center for Green Building and Cities.“GSD already has a footprint all over the world.” That will get larger, he said, in part because the research-based center will be sharing what it learns about design simulation, sustainability, and energy efficiency in the built environment. In an era of climate change, said Malkawi, energy efficiency has acquired critical edge, since 40 percent of power use worldwide goes to heating and cooling buildings.By next summer, inaugural programs in sustainable design practices will be in place in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Research is underway in China to reduce energy consumption in fast-growing cities. Citing booming India and Brazil, Malkawi said, “Our goal is to try to influence the building industry and globalized practice.” As a measure of how design is going global, the new center already has about a dozen multidisciplinary staffers, and will have 30 by the end of the summer.Merilee Grindle, the Edward S. Mason Professor of International Development at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) and director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, said that 10 years from now, “My dream would be that every student and every faculty member would be extraordinarily adept at crossing borders,” whether of geography, culture, time, or intellectual engagement. “The journey is already being engaged.”When John Winthrop sailed to Newfoundland, Harvard was a parochial college for New England’s ministers, merchants, and lawyers. By its 200th anniversary in 1836, it was self-consciously a national place of learning. By 1936, Harvard proclaimed itself a world university, eager for an expanded global profile.Today, that trend has hit warp speed. For students and faculty alike, spending all their time on campus is already “almost unthinkable,” said Oberholzer-Gee, and will be more so by 2024. “This idea of staying put in one place will look very antiquated.”last_img read more

Harvard professor explores marine biology with teens

first_imgThe ocean holds 97 percent of the Earth’s water and covers 71 percent of the Earth’s surface. Twenty percent of the protein that the human race consumes comes from the ocean. Yet more than 95 percent of the ocean remains unexplored. In fact, we have seen more of the surface of the moon — which is approximately 240,000 miles away — than we have of the ocean floor, which is seven miles at its deepest.According to Peter Girguis, professor of organismic and evolutionary biology (OEB) at Harvard University, the ocean’s various challenges, unexplored terrain, sheer enormity, and vast importance in issues such as transportation, commerce, food, and even climate change make the the study of marine science more relevant today than ever before.  Girguis hosted nearly two dozen high school students from Cambridge Rindge & Latin School (CRLS) on Harvard’s campus recently for a discussion about the various career paths available in marine science.He urged the students to think outside the box, telling them that marine science is about more than studying fish. It’s interdisciplinary; it involves chemistry, biology, physics, engineering, and even computer science.For example, the ocean, he said, plays an enormous role in climate change. Its ability to absorb heat means it has some potential to dampen temperature swings. “It will help to some degree, but the problem is that we just don’t know how quickly it will work. A hundred years? A thousand years? It’s hard to say, and we also don’t know how badly — and how quickly — [climate change] will affect all the marine life.”In addition to careers involving marine science and climate change, students, he suggested, might consider building robots that would sit on the ocean floor and send critical data to shore. Still others might explore ways in which the ocean could be used more efficiently for commerce and global business, such as developing ships that could more quickly transport products from one location to the next, or outsmarting competition by discovering and utilizing new sea routes.“There are a lot of job opportunities regarding the ocean, you need only to keep an open mind,” Girguis said.The high school students talked to Girguis’ graduate students and toured the OEB Biolabs, learning more about some of the ongoing projects being conducted by Girguis’ team.Earlier in the day they toured the Harvard Museum of Natural History, where they explored various specimens and examined swimming underwater robots.The collaboration between Girguis, CRLS marine biology teacher Paul McGuinness, M.Ed. ’06, and the high school students is not new. Last spring, three CRLS marine biology students spent the semester with Girguis and his graduate students conducting research in Harvard’s labs. The internship program will continue this upcoming spring, and there is a desire on both sides to extend and expand the program.“It’s a huge addition to the curriculum for CRLS marine biology students to be able to visit a world-class research lab at Harvard and talk directly to researchers like Dr. Girguis and his staff,” said McGuinness, noting the high marks students gave to Girguis’ lecture and his willingness to engage them directly. “They were also impressed by the high-level range of projects that the graduate students were working on,” McGuinness said.“I had a great time! I loved seeing how passionate Professor Girguis is about his research and really enjoyed hearing him explain how and why he decided to enter into the field of marine biology,” said 17-year-old Eleanor Lieberman, a senior at CRLS.Girguis, one of the world’s most respected marine biologists, explained his rather unconventional entry into the field.“I grew up in southeastern Los Angeles,” he said. “I wasn’t hanging out with the movie stars or sailing around on my yacht. We didn’t have a lot of money. Most people in my town worked at a local factory that made the Apollo moon rockets. As a kid, I’d go there, and they’d let you sit in a simulator for free — and pretend you were manning the rocket. It’s the first time that I realized that anybody — no matter who you were, or where you were from — could be part of great things if you worked hard enough and wanted it bad enough.”last_img read more

Poll: U.S. public sees ill health as resulting from broad range of causes

first_img Read Full Story A new NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll finds that more than six in ten people living in the U.S. (62%) are concerned about their future health. Nearly four in ten (39%) said that they had one or more negative childhood experiences that they believe had a harmful impact on their adult health.Causes of ill health“When the public thinks about the causes of ill health, it’s not just about germs. They also see access to medical care, personal behavior, stress, and pollution as affecting health,” said Robert J. Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.When given a list of 14 factors that might cause ill health, the top five causes cited by the public as extremely important are lack of access to high-quality medical care (42%), personal behavior (40%), viruses or bacteria (40%), high stress (37%), and exposure to air, water, or chemical pollution (35%).Those rankings diverge, however, among ethnic groups. African-Americans are more likely than whites to perceive lack of access to high-quality medical care (56% to 41%), God’s will (47% to 29%), having a low income (45% to 23%), and not having enough education (41% to 26%) as extremely important causes of individuals’ health problems. Hispanics are more likely than non-Hispanic whites (46% to 31%) to say that bad working conditions are extremely important.last_img read more

Resolving conflict: Men vs. women

first_imgScouring YouTube and the video archive of several international sports federations, researchers found hundreds of videos of tennis, table tennis, badminton, and boxing matches, and focused their attention not on the matches, but on their immediate aftermath.“We watched carefully to see what happened after the match ended,” she said. “The requirement is that people touch after the match ends, but how do they touch? They can just touch hands quickly, or they can really shake hands or give a pat or even a hug.”Researchers watched hundreds of matches, taking care to ensure no player was repeated in any match, and found clear sex differences in all four sports.“Most people think of females as being less competitive, or more cooperative, so you might expect there would be more reconciliation between females,” Benenson said. “With their families, females are more cooperative than males, investing in children and other kin. With unrelated same-sex peers however, after conflicts, in males you see these very warm handshakes and embraces, even in boxing after they’ve almost killed each other.”So why is it that women seem less willing to reconcile following conflict?Part of the answer, Benenson and Wrangham believe, may be tied to traditional gender roles that stretch to earliest human history. Chimps and humans live in groups of both males and females, but while males cultivate large friendship networks, females focus more on family relationships and a handful of few close friends — partly, researchers believe, as a way to share the burden of raising children. The whole community gains when unrelated men successfully prevail against external groups. In contrast, women gain more from family members and one or two close friends who help with child care. It makes sense, in that light, that women would reconcile more with these individuals, and men with a larger number of unrelated same-sex peers.Ultimately, Benenson said, the implications of the study could reach far beyond the boundaries of the playing field.“What we’re talking about is women having a harder time when they have to compete with other women,” she said. “Studies have shown that when two females compete in the workplace, they feel much more damaged afterward. I think this is something human resources professionals should be aware of, so they can mitigate it.” Female academics less likely to cross rank in collaboration, study finds Hierarchical differences It’s not exactly front-page news that when it comes to conflict, men and women usually behave very differently. The way they resolve those conflicts also tends to differ.While men can be aggressive and combative, a new study shows that, from the tennis court to the boxing ring —modern equivalents of one-on-one conflict — men are more likely than women to make peace with their competitors after the competition ends.Using videos of four sports in 44 countries, Joyce Benenson, an associate of Harvard’s Human Evolutionary Biology Department and a professor of psychology at Emmanuel College, and Richard Wrangham, the Ruth B. Moore Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology, found that men are far more likely to engage in friendly physical contact — handshakes, back pats and even hugs — following competition than women are. The study is described in the journal Current Biology.Importantly, Benenson said, the study also lends credence to what researchers call the “male warrior hypothesis,” the notion that men broker good feelings after conflict to ensure they can call on allies to help defend the group in the future.“This finding feels very counterintuitive because we have social science and evolutionary biology models that tell us males are much more competitive and aggressive,” Benenson said.Though accurate, those models are incomplete, because they didn’t explain a curious behavior observed among male chimps.“Male chimps show tremendous aggression, even to the point of killing other males, but they also often reconcile immediately following a conflict,” she said. “They do that because, in addition to the battle to sire the most offspring, they also have to cooperate to defend their community in lethal intergroup conflicts. So the question is how do you get from these severely aggressive 1:1 dominance interactions to cooperating with your former opponents so you can preserve your entire community? We think post-conflict affiliation is the mechanism.”The quest to understand that mechanism has been a years-long search for Benenson.The study was sparked by questions of how men prevail against outside groups — whether in war or in symbolic battles like business deals — while still continually competing with others in their own group. Earlier studies had shown male chimps were more likely than females to try to put hard feelings to rest following a head-to-head conflict, spurring Benenson and Wrangham to wonder whether the same might be true among humans.To get at the question, they turned to a modern form of conflict: sports. Sports provide identical conflicts for males and females, so sex differences can be objectively examined. Relatedlast_img read more

Second annual College Conversations at the Ed Portal

first_imgLocal families recently attended the second annual College Conversations event at the Harvard Ed Portal, where they were joined by Harvard College undergraduate panelists and Harvard Admissions counselors who helped lead a workshop.Members of the Cambridge Housing Authority also led a workshop for teens on Goal Mapping, where they were encouraged to think critically about their goals and outline practical steps to actualize their long term postsecondary school plans.Janim Sayles, Assistant Director of the Achieve program at the Noble and Greenough School, gave the keynote presentation to families. She spoke about her experience as a first generation college student, saying, “so you see, it’s ok if you’re the first in your family to go to college, or if you don’t have too much money, and it’s even okay if you’re not sure what you want to do when you grow up. What’s important is that you work really hard.”last_img read more

Reflections on a year

first_imgAs Harvard students drove away last month, their rear-view mirrors gave them one last glimpse of a campus that had housed yet another creative and spirited school year. The nine months from 2016–2017 brought a presidential election, scientific discoveries, artistic expression, and academic achievement. Here are some of the events that helped shape this passionate, vibrant community — and helped define the role that Harvard continues to play in the wider world.Freshmen Dominic Chung (from left), Emily Shen, Dominique Cantave, Eddie Nesmith, and Simi Ogunnowo greet each other in the Yard during Freshman Move-In Day. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer[vr url=https://news.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/1-360-move-in-day2017.jpg view=360]On Aug. 23, 2016, new students and their families flocked into Harvard Yard to find their freshman-year homes.The University’s newest students begin their freshman year in Tercentenary Theatre with Convocation and an official welcome from Harvard President Drew Faust. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff PhotographerThe Class of 2020 gathers for a picture on the steps of Widener Hall. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff PhotographerStudents enter Harvard Hall for classes during shopping period. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff PhotographerMelissa Coles (from left), a student at Harvard Divinity School; the Ven. Professor Changshen Shi Wang, a visiting assistant professor at HDS; and Sara Klingenstein, a student at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, talk in the courtyard of the Center for the Study of World Religions. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerTajrean Rahman ’20 (from left), Varoun Gulati ’19, and other students participate in Daniel Donoghue’s class “The History of the English Language” in Harvard Hall during shopping period. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer[vr url=https://news.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/widener360.jpg view=360]During exam period, students work under the iconic arched ceiling of Widener Library’s Loker Reading Room.Angela S. Allan, lecturer on history and literature, teaches “American Economic Fictions.” The course considers the culture of American capitalism by examining a range of literary and historical texts. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff PhotographerDuring “Foundations of Biological Diversity,” Professor Brian Farrell, director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, teaches an integrated approach to the diversity of life, emphasizing how chemical, physical, genetic, ecological and geologic processes contribute to the origin and maintenance of biological diversity. The class was held inside the Science Center. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerJoy Davis teaches “Contemporary Dance: Countertechnique” during shopping period. Sophie Carroll ’17 (from left), Annina Kennedy-Yoon ’20, Davis, and Genevieve Lefevre ’19 gather for a class in the dance studio on Garden Street. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerInside Harvard University Herbaria’s Farlow Library, Hannah Zurier ’17 and Professor Don Pfister discuss an article about Zurier’s discovery of a new truffle fungus at the Arnold Arboretum. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerRowers on the Charles River. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff PhotographerStudents dig into “The Archaeology of Harvard Yard,” a collaboration of the Anthropology Department and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff PhotographerEmily Balskus, the Morris Kahn Associate Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, works inside the Edward Mallinckrodt Chemical Laboratory with postdoctoral fellow Matthew Wilson, (right). Balskus is the lead author of a study that gives researchers the first up-close view of how an enzyme called CutC breaks down choline, an essential nutrient in the makeup of cell membranes. Enzymes in the gut break down choline into TMA, which is linked with heart disease and liver disease. Understanding that process may help in the development of drugs to stop the process. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer.On Science Center Plaza, master pianist George Hu ’20 plays for his delighted friends Jonathan Suh (from left, all ’20), Daniel Inge, Michael Gaba, Arjun Mirani, and Elizabeth Yeoh-Wang, a joint Harvard/New England Conservatory concentrator. Harvard Common Spaces presented the free-to-play public piano as part of “Street Pianos Boston 2016,” in conjunction with Celebrity Series of Boston. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerThe Veritas shield on Robinson Gate is framed by foliage on a bright autumn day. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerOliver Hart, Andrew E. Furer Professor of Economics at Harvard University (right), and David Laibson, chair of the Department of Economics, smile after Hart won the 2016 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. Hart shared the prize with Bengt Holmstršm, a Finnish economist teaching at MIT. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff PhotographerDean of Students Katherine O’Dair (from left), Devin Clark ’18, and Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman concentrate on a Pac-Man game during a pop-up event at the Science Center. The event was intended to build community during the dining hall strike and featured life-sized versions of Connect Four, Operation, and Guitar Hero. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff PhotographerLara Tomholt from the Graduate School of Design (left) explains her robot to local seventh-graders, including Giselle Korn (far right) from the Amigos School. The students were visiting campus to see what it’s like to be in college, as part of Project Teach. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff PhotographerPresident Faust (from left) speaks with Rebecca Woo ’89 and Theresa Loong ’94 before making welcoming remarks at the inaugural Harvard Alumni Association’s Women’s Weekend at Spangler Hall. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff PhotographerSergey Semenov poses for a portrait in his lab in the Mallinckrodt Chemistry Laboratory. Semenov’s research in complex organic chemical reactions on early Earth has led to new conclusions about the origin of life. Photo by Sarah SilbigerMembers of the Harvard Glee Club and Radcliffe Choral Group rehearse in Sanders Theatre for an upcoming holiday concert. Photo by Sarah Silbiger[vr url=https://news.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/3-360_winter_widenerf.jpg view=360]A fresh coat of snow covers Tercentenary Theatre during Wintersession, the last week of winter recess before the spring semester begins.Erica Beade instructs students on the art of drawing animals during a Wintersession offering at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Jenny Huang ’20 (pictured) focuses on her subject as she draws. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerFreshmen William Gao and Amanda DiMartini experiment on yeast cells during James Martenson’s class “Genetics of Organelle Function in Budding Yeast.” Photo by Silvia MazzocchinBoris Davidov ’19 (front center) and Alannah O’Brien ’19 look over the Pusey Library archives exhibit “To Serve Better Thy Country.” Jon Chase/Harvard Staff PhotographerWilliam Frazer (left), a student at Miami Northwestern Senior High School, presents his original artwork to Harvard President Drew Faust. Frazer was among the many students and teachers who met Faust as she visited to discuss pathways to college, the value of higher education, and the importance of educators and mentors helping students consider opportunities after high school. Joe Sherman/Harvard UniversityThe Math Lounge on the fourth floor of the Science Center is open to all the math concentrators. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff PhotographerAuthor and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates was the keynote speaker at “Universities and Slavery: Bound by History,” a daylong conference in the Knafel Center at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. President Faust and Coates spoke after his presentation. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerFreshmen — aware of the camera — wait for upperclassmen to arrive with the letters that will assign them to their future House, on Housing Day, March 3. Photo by Silvia MazzocchinA student from Currier House leaves University Hall bearing letters for freshmen during Housing Day 2017. Photo by Silvia MazzocchinDuring her visit to Vietnam, President Faust met with students at the Ap Bac Secondary School, Tan An Hamlet in Cai Lay Town, Tien Giang Province. Faust (from left) asks a question to student Trần Thị Ngọc Hân, with help from translator Ben Wilkinson ’98. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerProfessor Danielle Allen welcomes people to “A Celebration of Inclusion and Belonging” at Sanders Theatre, a community-wide workshop and opportunity for reflection with students and scholars. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff PhotographerUnder the cream-colored columns and ornate arches of the Widener Library Rotunda, Christopher Roman and Jill Johnson silently present “Catalogue (First Edition),” created by and with William Forsythe, their choreographer, teacher, mentor, and friend. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff PhotographerA magnolia blooms in front of Lehman Hall. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerActor John Lithgow, co-founder of Arts First, receives the Mayor’s Proclamation. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff PhotographerDamian Woetzel teaches the audience George Balanchine’s “Serenade” during “A Celebration of Harvard Artists” at Sanders Theatre. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff PhotographerGraduating seniors and their families attend Class Day Exercises in Tercentenary Theatre with featured speaker Joe Biden, the former U.S. vice president (left) with graduating senior Katherine Wu. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer[vr url=https://news.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/sheriff-360-commencement.jpg view=360]The Sheriff of Middlesex County continues a long tradition of bringing Commencement to order on May 25, 2017.Harvard University celebrates Commencement 2017. Before the Morning Exercises in Tercentenary Theatre, President Faust processes to the stage. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerAt the 366th Commencement, Mark Zuckerberg (left) receives his honorary degree from University Vice President Marc Goodheart. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographerlast_img read more