Researcher receives grant to study Haiti-American emergency preparedness

Researcher receives grant to study Haiti-American emergency preparedness

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first_imgResearcher Linda Marc has received a grant from the Harvard School of Public Health to examine public health and emergency preparedness in Haitian-Americans. Marc is based at the Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research at Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard-affiliated health system.The study will investigate how persons of Haitian ancestry in the U.S. are exposed to messages pertaining to public health emergencies, infectious disease outbreaks, and epidemics. It will be conducted in three U.S. cities (Boston, Miami, and New York), and Mg Marketing Research Services, a Haitian-owned company in New York, has been retained to identify, screen, and recruit Haitian participants…To read morelast_img read more

Faculty contribute essays to new book

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first_imgThree Harvard faculty members — Michèle Lamont, Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies and professor of sociology and of African and African American studies; Sheila Jasanoff, Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies and professor of environmental science and public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government; and Rebecca Lemov, assistant professor of the history of science — have contributed essays to a new book, “Social Knowledge in the Making,” to be published Oct. 14 by the University of Chicago Press.The book, co-edited by Lamont, includes more than a dozen essays on the social sciences, and represents the first comprehensive effort to examine the day-to-day activities involved in the creation of social-scientific and related forms of knowledge about the social world.Essays address a range of subjects, from the changing practices of historical research to anthropological data collection, as well as subjects beyond academia, like global banks, survey research organizations, and national security and economic policymakers.For more information, or to order a copy, visit the University of Chicago Press website.last_img read more

If he builds it, the artists come

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first_imgThe Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts is one of the most famous buildings at Harvard. And like many important structures, Le Corbusier’s only North American masterpiece has been preserved down to the smallest of details — the patina of the concrete floors, the bold primary colors of accent walls.But to Ed Lloyd, the Carpenter Center’s first-floor entry hall is a blank slate, ready to be wiped clean and reimagined every other month. As the center’s exhibitions manager, Lloyd has the job of reconfiguring the building’s 2,500-square-foot Main Gallery (as well as its smaller Sert Gallery) up to six times a year to suit the ideas, aesthetics, and whims of the artists whose work is shown there.“It’s a beautiful room,” Lloyd said one afternoon, relaxing in front of “Hellos and Goodbyes,” a series of prints of waving hands that is part of the gallery’s latest exhibition, “Annette Lemieux: Unfinished Business.” But there’s always a caveat: ????You have to compromise.”Because nothing can be permanently altered in the glass-and-concrete space, Lloyd starts fresh with each exhibition, right down to constructing the white walls. In every case, his goal is to bring artists’ work to life despite any constraints. He’s equal parts handyman, designer, organizer, negotiator, and visionary.The job lends itself to extremes, as when performance artist and provocateur William Pope.L staged “Corbu Pops” at the Center in 2009. The frenetic show involved turning a bench into a puppet stage, shooting a video piece, creating theater lighting, hiring a New Jersey sculptor to create models, coordinating rehearsals of a student performance, and locating five gallons of Vaseline to cover a large table in the middle of the room. (Why the petroleum jelly? “You’d have to speak to the artist about that,” Lloyd demurred.)Other times, Lloyd does more tearing down than building. For a 2007 Félix González-Torres exhibition, he cleared out the normally austere Main Gallery and covered the floor with 2,500 pounds of foil-wrapped candies, filling the room with a glittering, golden glow.“It was really elegant and beautiful and simple,” Lloyd said.People skills are critical. On any given day, Lloyd interacts with artists, curators, assistants, trade workers, and movers, a mix of the scholarly, the free-spirited, and the blue collar. Most important, he must build trust with the artists in each show.“It’s important that the artist communicates to you what they want and that they believe you can execute it,” he said. “Once an artist is comfortable with you and you have that dialogue, you can make decisions without having to check in constantly. But you have to build that relationship.”He prefers to design in his head first, sketching later on floor plans, and never relying on models, which can create a false sense of the space.“I know how the room works and what it lends itself to,” he said. “It’s just like making a painting or a sculpture. You start with that same aesthetic process.”Lloyd grew up in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. As a boy, he was drawn to Skidmore College’s art gallery. He moved to Boston in the 1980s to attend the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and slowly worked toward a degree in painting, taking part-time jobs in galleries, artists’ studios, and the school’s exhibition department to pay his bills.“I always needed to work, so anything I could do to stay within a gallery or the arts was a plus,” he said. After graduating in 1990, he eventually became exhibitions manager at the Museum School’s Grossman Gallery, where he stayed for 12 years. He came to the Carpenter Center in 2005.He shares his South End home with his wife, a curator. Being married to a fellow art professional helps keep him sane and inspired in his work.“I can go home with problems, and they can be understood,” he said.When he’s not working, Lloyd spends a lot of time outdoors, in part to counteract the mental strain of staring at the same two rooms for a living: “Everywhere, white walls,” he joked. He also golfs — an admittedly unlikely hobby — at Boston’s public courses, where he can avoid the “golf carts and cigars and plaid-pants” crowd.Of course, Lloyd also sees other shows, but he often finds it difficult to quiet his internal exhibitions manager.“The design becomes my nemesis for enjoying the art,” he said with a laugh. At other galleries and museums, he often finds himself scrutinizing “not the show itself, but the process of how it got there, and how and why it was decided.”If he and his team are doing their job well, Lloyd said, their work shouldn’t be noticed at all. It’s the perfect job for a modest guy who eschews the spotlight. “When a show is perfectly done, perfectly designed,” he said, “the work that I do is not there. You don’t see it.”last_img read more

‘Voice of public service at Harvard’

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first_imgCalling the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) “the voice of public service at Harvard,” University President Drew Faust welcomed alumni from across seven decades Friday to a special 75th anniversary conference at the Charles Hotel.“The Kennedy School motto ‘Ask what you can do’ is a resonant theme that extends across Harvard and makes all of us so much more aware of what it means to have these responsibilities and how they might be exercised,” Faust said. “The Harvard Kennedy School is a powerful embodiment and representation to the world of a fundamental University value, and that is why facts and knowledge matter as societies and nations make choices about the future.”Faust noted the School’s “wide range of influence,” both in terms of its esteemed graduates — from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, M.P.A. ’84, and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, M.P.A. ’71, to “50 members of Congress both past and present,” and the many “world changing” ideas and programs that have taken form at HKS over its history.“The Kennedy School has even changed the language we speak. I think that is a fundamental indicator of influence,” Faust said.  “Phrases like ‘soft power’ have entered the lexicon and become central to the language of international affairs. ‘Bowling alone’ is a term of our national conversation about the fraying of civic ties. So the influence of the Kennedy School has been extensive and deep — internationally, nationally, and how we understand ourselves, even how we talk about our world.”It is the dual mission of training leaders and conducting important research, Faust said, that makes the School and the University more relevant than ever.“That is what we stand for: that knowledge and learning, evidence-based decision-making can have a huge positive impact on the world, and the Kennedy School leads the parade in advancing that conception in the circles of power and government and policy,” she said.HKS Dean David T. Ellwood focused his opening remarks on the School’s evolution from its founding in 1936, explaining that it wasn’t until President John F. Kennedy took office that “suddenly public service and the idea of government service became cool.”“It highlights the most important thing we can do to begin with, which is to get spectacular people of great character, great intelligence, great energy, and great desire to make a difference to come here,” he said.HKS Dean David T. Ellwood provided an overview of some of the School’s key priorities, including technology and governance, behavioral and decision sciences, and making democracy work.Ellwood provided an overview of some of the School’s key priorities, including technology and governance, behavioral and decision sciences, and making democracy work.Other plenary sessions focused on governing in the digital age, economic inequality, and the Middle East and North Africa.  The lunchtime keynote address, “The Future of Power,” was delivered by Joseph S. Nye, Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor and former HKS dean.The conference, titled “HKS at 75: A Time of Peril and Promise for the World” is among the highlights of Reunion Weekend 2012.last_img read more

Former Finland prime minister headed to Harvard

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first_imgEsko Aho, former prime minister of Finland and current executive vice president for corporate relations and responsibility at Nokia, has been appointed a 2012-13 senior fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government (M-RCBG) at the Harvard Kennedy School. As a senior fellow, Aho will pursue research on the changing role of the state in maintaining welfare and global competitiveness.The Senior Fellows Program is designed to strengthen the connection between theory and practice as the center examines and develops policies at the intersection of business and government.Other new M-RCBG senior fellows are Richard Balzer, a leadership and strategy consultant; Justin Fox, editorial director of the Harvard Business Review Group; Christian Gollier, director of the Toulouse School of Economics; and Lisa A. Robinson, a specialist in the economic analysis of environmental, health, and safety regulations.For more information.last_img read more

With Visitas canceled, Harvard improvises

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first_imgWilliam R. Fitzsimmons was running the Boston Marathon with his wife, Pat, on Monday when the downtown bombings forced them off the course at mile 20. On Friday, Harvard College’s dean of admissions and financial aid again was dealing with matters beyond his control, in this case an area-wide lockdown. He was greeting high school students at Logan Airport as they arrived for the College’s planned program for newly admitted students, Visitas.Nearly 1,400 students who had been accepted to Harvard, some of them coming from as far as Australia and India, were heading to Cambridge for three days of activities, before security officials decided to shut down the Boston area early Friday to hunt for the remaining marathon bombing suspect. The edict meant Harvard officials had to cancel Visitas.“With the region-wide lockdown and all the uncertainty and anxiety created on campus by shootings and the ongoing manhunt, we decided to alert the people not to even begin their trips, and to give those on their way a chance to turn around,” Fitzsimmons said Saturday. “You couldn’t even get to Cambridge yesterday. And by the time the situation was over last night, too many people had already changed their travel plans.”The annual weekend known as Visitas is a much-loved introduction to the Harvard experience. Admitted freshmen, often accompanied by family members, come for their first true taste of campus life. Students stay with hosts in the freshmen dorms and Harvard Houses. They attend parties, dances, lectures, panel discussions, and activity fairs. They eat in the dining halls and explore the University’s diverse academic and extracurricular offerings.Harvard officials posted a message on the Harvard College Admissions website just before 7 a.m. Friday, added the same message to the Facebook page that had been created for members of the incoming Class of 2017, and emailed all admitted students and their Harvard hosts, saying the University was closed and Visitas registration had been suspended. Three hours later, another message went out asking those who had not yet begun traveling to Cambridge not to start out, and requesting students already en route to “stay where you are for the time being.”By noon, decision had been madeAs the day wore on, University officials, including Fitzsimmons and admissions officers and Visitas co-chairs Amelia Muller and Mike Esposito, held several conference calls to determine the event’s future. By noon, the decision had been made: Visitas was canceled.Saturday afternoon, Harvard President Drew Faust emailed a note to the prospective members of the Class of 2017, offering them her regrets at the change of plans, and encouraging them to make Harvard a part of their future.“Whether you are an aspiring artist or scientist, whether you are from Minneapolis or Mumbai,” wrote Faust, “whether your passions find you on the playing field or in the orchestra pit, whether you draw your intellectual energy from parsing texts or debating policy issues or writing code, I hope we will have the privilege of your joining the Harvard community.”Melanie Slone, an admitted member of the class, left her hometown of Bellbrook, Ohio, at 6 a.m. Friday with her friend Jake Brewer, who had been admitted at Boston University, to make the long drive to visit the colleges they will soon call home. They were cruising through New York when Slone received an email from Harvard saying the weekend was canceled.Though they turned around and headed home, Slone seemed undeterred.“I’m still coming to Harvard next year, and I’m still very excited,” she said.While Visitas would have kicked off officially with an address from Faust, hundreds of early arriving students, many traveling with their parents, were already on their way. Many landed at Logan Friday morning. Noah Selsby, Harvard’s assistant dean for administration, who lives a 5-minute ride from the airport, headed to the international terminal. There, with help from Massport officials who put up signs directing those arriving to a section on the terminal’s ground floor, he began tracking down students and explaining the shutdown.Fitzsimmons soon joined him. Together they ordered pizza for the approximately 85 students and close to 20 parents, helped some reschedule return flights for later that day, and found hotel rooms for the remainder. Gene Corbin, assistant dean of public service in the Office of Student Life, grabbed some colleagues, borrowed a number of vans from Harvard’s Phillips Brooks House, and hurried to the airport to help shuttle students to a Holiday Inn Express in Saugus. Michael Burke, registrar for Harvard’s Faculty of Art and Sciences, did the same with his car, as did Sean Palfrey, co-master of Adams House.Members of the Harvard community took to Twitter in force, using the hashtag #virtualvisitas, to reach out to the students. “The Harvard community thrives on the resourcefulness of its members,” said Harvard College Fellow Carla D. Martin. “#virtualvisitas is a great example of that.” Screenshot of TwitterA slice of Harvard at LoganStudent Yusuph Mkangara arrived at Logan at 9 a.m. from Columbus, Ohio, with a friend who was also headed to Visitas. Knowing that the MBTA had already been shut down, they waited and checked their smartphones until they received an email from Harvard officials telling them to meet in Terminal E.They arrived at the terminal’s “Camp Harvard” and shared pizza with other students while University officials helped them sort out their options. The resulting get-together wasn’t Visitas, but it was a little slice of Harvard nonetheless, Mkangara said.“The weird beauty of the situation is I’ve gone to other visiting programs, and I’ve never gotten to meet more than, say, 10 people,” he said. “These are the people who are going to be my classmates. … It puts a damper on it that we can’t see the campus and meet upperclassmen, but it’s been wonderful to know that this is a sample of who we’re going to be with.”Though his spirits were high, Mkangara recognized he would have an even harder choice ahead of him as he decided between Harvard — which he had not visited — and Yale.“Harvard was my dream school, my No. 1,” he said. “This visit was really supposed to make my final decision for me. It’s going to be a lot tougher now.” (On Saturday, though, Mkangara was coming to campus. At 10 a.m. he tweeted “Headed to #Harvard. #TheAmericanRESOLVE  #IvyDreams!”)Despite their disappointment, the students at Logan remained upbeat. They snapped pictures with potential future classmates and posted them to Facebook, and played impromptu “get to know you” games. Many of the students who were staying the night even opted for the Saugus hotel instead of one located at the airport, so they could continue bonding with their new friends.“They just wanted to stay together,” said Selsby.Dean William Fitzsimmons and Noah Selsby, assistant dean for administration, ordered pizza to feed the 85 students and close to 20 parents who they tracked down at Logan. Photo by Noah SelsbyHandling a difficult situationThe afternoon and evening proved a lesson in character. As the head of Harvard admissions, Fitzsimmons said one of the qualities he looks for in prospective students is their ability to handle difficult situations.“It’s really been an amazing thing watching how the students have come together, and the parents have been very understanding. We’ve seen an enormous amount of grace under pressure,” he said, adding that the University would cover any additional costs for the students and their families, including meals, hotels, and flight-change fees. “We’ve made it possible for them not to incur any financial loss as a result of this tragedy.”As the clock spun toward 9 p.m., Fitzsimmons and Selsby were still waiting for a young woman who was arriving from New Delhi. Suddenly, the weary student approached. “I’m delighted we found you,” exclaimed the dean.There were other developments concerning the new class in Harvard’s virtual world. Members of the Harvard community took to Twitter in force, using the hashtag #virtualvisitas, to reach out to the students. Throughout the day, tweets poured in from Harvard faculty, students, alumni, and staff who encouraged students with questions to get in touch.Like countless residents of the Greater Boston area, Harvard College Fellow Carla D. Martin was stuck inside monitoring the manhunt when she saw the Harvard tweet about #virtualvisitas. A 2003 graduate of the College who went on to earn her masters and her Ph.D. from Harvard, Martin tweeted out a note inviting members of the Class of 2017 to get in touch with questions about her specialties: African and African American studies, social anthropology, and music.Greetings from virtual Veritas“Since we all are on lockdown today, it’s a good way to put our energy into something positive,” said Martin on Friday afternoon. Soon, she noticed many alumni from her year, and even her current Harvard students, joining in the virtual conversation. “The Harvard community thrives on the resourcefulness of its members,” Martin said. “#virtualvisitas is a great example of that.”Kirkland resident Ibrahim Khan was in Los Angeles with some of his Harvard roommates, headed to the music festival Coachella and using Twitter to follow the news in Boston, when he read a tweet about #virtualvisitas.“Harvard 2017ers, I’m a junior in Kirkland and happy to answer any questions you have. I hope you are all staying safe,” Khan tweeted out.While the University has no plans to reschedule Visitas, Fitzsimmons said he would consider extending the acceptance deadline beyond May 1 for students who had planned to attend the weekend event. In addition, the University will continue to connect with undecided incoming freshmen via email, phone, and social media, he said, to help them in any way possible.“We will do whatever we can to help them in making their decision,” said Fitzsimmons.last_img read more

Film as a force

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first_imgOn Sunday, millions of viewers will tune in to the Academy Awards for a chance to see their favorite stars in designer dresses and to learn who will take home the movie industry’s highest honor, gold-plated, 13-and-a-half-inch statuettes fondly known as Oscars.Three anxious documentarians in the audience who hope to hear their names called have deep roots in a longstanding Harvard program. Joshua Oppenheimer ’96, Jehane Noujaim ’96, and Rick Rowley all honed their early filmmaking skills while undergraduates at the University’s Department of Visual and Environmental Studies (VES), a multidisciplinary program committed, its website says, “to an integrated study of artistic practice, visual culture, and the critical study of the image.”The young directors are nominees for best documentary feature, each for work about serious international concerns: Noujaim for “The Square,” which charts the ongoing Egyptian revolution; Rick Rowley for “Dirty Wars,” which uncovers covert military action by the United States; and Oppenheimer for “The Act of Killing,” about the mass killings in Indonesia in the 1960s.(Also holding her breath in the audience on Sunday will be VES alumna Lauren MacMullan ’86, director of “Get a Horse!” which is nominated for an Academy Award in the best animated short film category.)On a recent afternoon, Robb Moss, VES chair and professor of visual and environmental studies, sat in his office, itself a work of art with an imposing concrete column cutting through its center, along with a floor-to-ceiling window. The office and the rest of VES is housed in the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, which was designed by famed Swiss–born architect Le Corbusier.Robb Moss, VES chair and professor of visual and environmental studies at Harvard, is credited with being an influential mentor to past and current students. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff PhotographerMoss, credited by many current and past students as an enormously influential mentor, talked about the three documentary filmmakers, including their time at Harvard and their current success.Rowley, noted Moss, “had a strong sense of and deep engagement with politics, and he understood more than anybody I have ever met that his political sensibility and his desire to make films were twinned and were meant to talk to each other, and talk to the world.”For Noujaim, it was photography that pulled her into filmmaking, said Moss. She started out working with still photos under the tutelage of Chris Killip, professor of visual and environmental studies. “She had this way of seeing the world and engaging it that I think really started with photography.”Moss also remembered Noujaim’s gift for collaboration, her ability to connect with people, and her “fantastic sense of what a good documentary story might be. … People trust her, and she doesn’t betray their trust, yet she makes a strong film. She has a real curiosity of what the world is like. She wants to know who you are as a person. She has this interest and sense of empathy.”As an undergraduate, Oppenheimer had a “wildly imaginative” side that shone through, Moss recalled. “It’s just this very complex view of the world, and that complex view of the world combined with his fantastically imaginative way of representing things, and a fearlessness of image making. All of those things, which are so apparent in ‘The Act of Killing,’ were apparent when he was an undergraduate.”In addition to their individual skills and talents, Moss said the trio shares a trait critical for anyone hoping to succeed in a competitive industry: a capacity to meet setbacks with tenacity, indeed with “an inability to finish a project until it’s done.”“It’s very tempting to step out of a project. You are exhausted. You are broke. You’ve exhausted your ideas. You don’t think the film is as good as you think it should be, but you don’t know where it should go,” said Moss. “Then there are people who say it’s not done and I’m not going to finish it until it is done. I think that’s true for the three of them.”As an undergraduate at Harvard, Joshua Oppenheimer was described by Moss as “wildly imaginative.” Photo by Daniel BergeronMoss pointed to Noujaim’s work with “The Square” as an example of that tireless drive to get it right. While she was en route to the 2013 Sundance Film Festival —where her film eventually won the audience award in the world cinema documentary category — a new wave of riots erupted in Cairo as protesters demanded that Egypt’s recently elected president Mohammed Morsi step down. Noujaim and her production team returned to Egypt, filmed the protests, and reedited the film with the fresh material.“She stayed with it,” said Moss, “and the story became far more complex.”Oppenheimer recalled his formative years at Harvard, saying Moss and other VES faculty “really pushed us to explore what filmmaking can be, ought to be, might be. And for me that meant exploring the boundaries between documentary and fiction.”“The Act of Killing,” which captures former leaders of Indonesian death squads- reenacting their horrific crimes, starts off as a type of documentary, but ends “in a place of, really, fever dream.”While Moss has received much media attention recently because of his connection to the three filmmakers, both he and his former students note the strength of the program itself, and point to other faculty who have served as influential mentors.In addition to crediting Moss, Oppenheimer lauded filmmaker and former VES professor Dusan Makavejev, and singled out Osgood Hooker Professor of Visual Arts Alfred Guzzetti for his patience, gentleness, and his willingness to “say the most cutting and important things that needed to be said.”Many of those cutting words were aimed at cinematic cliché.“I have an allergy to cliché that I think I learned from Alfred,” said Oppenheimer. “Anyone who sees ‘The Act of Killing,’ and even my next film that deals with survivors of the Indonesian genocide but hasn’t come out yet, [will see] there is a way in which my work, if it resists anything, it resists sentimentality.”“Josh was unforgettable,” recalled Guzzetti. “He loved provocation of every kind.”When screening his film last fall at the Harvard Film Archive, Oppenheimer, who lives in Copenhagen, Denmark, sat in on one of Moss’s classes and was reminded of another critical lesson he learned at VES.Moss told the students, recalled Oppenheimer, that “the best editing strategy is one which allows your strongest material to be used in the best possible way … editing is not about telling the story you think your material is going to tell, it’s about excavating the material and finding where it really sings and letting it sing its song.”That type of approach, said Oppenheimer, “is fundamental to what I think filmmaking is.”Founded in the 1960s, VES has had a strong tradition in documentary filmmaking that has been made even stronger by its ongoing connection with the Film Study Center. Created in 1957 by the groundbreaking ethnographic filmmaker Robert Gardner ’47, the center is the visual arm of Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Today, students interested in documentary film can choose from a wide range of VES offerings, many presented in tandem with the center, including seminars that explore both the history and theory of non-fiction film, as well as hands-on courses that teach how to build a documentary film or video from the ground up.Guzzetti underlined other strengths of the documentary program, pointing out that the faculty not only includes well-known filmmakers, but also taps into Boston’s powerful documentary filmmaking community. “All of those pieces of the puzzle support us in our efforts,” said Guzzetti.Photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield is another VES alumna whose work has received critical acclaim. She won the 2012 Sundance Film Festival’s directing award for her documentary “The Queen of Versailles,” which charts a couple’s plans to build a 90,000-square-foot palace in Florida based on the Versailles palace in France.For help with the film, Greenfield turned to Moss, reconnecting with her former teacher during one of the Sundance Institute’s film labs, a series of intensive workshops for emerging filmmakers. She called him regularly during the final stages of production seeking feedback and advice. “He was always so generous and insightful with his comments,” said Greenfield. “It’s just really special to have that ongoing relationship with a teacher.”In comparing the VES program to more traditional film schools, Greenfield said Harvard offers students something beyond the art and craft of filmmaking.“They never taught you a style; they never gave you an assignment that was not open ended. … At Harvard, it’s more about taking the medium and figuring out your voice with it. If you look at ‘The Act of Killing’ and ‘The Square’ and ‘Dirty Wars,’ they are all completely different.”Moss brings his own passion as a filmmaker to the job. He fell in love with movies while in college. Seeing someone else’s reflection of the world on the big screen, he said, helped him to understand how critical historic developments like the Vietnam War unfolded in real time. After college, work in West Africa and later in the United States as a river rafting guide helped to inspire him toward a career in film.“All those experiences were very intense, very on the ground, very unmediated … just very experiential and in your face. In a way, that’s a description of documentary filmmaking.”“Documentary filmmaking seemed a way to go forward and recoup experience at the same time,” he added. “It seemed to me possible that the act of making a documentary film was like going into the world and having it run roughshod over you, and I wanted that.” Moss’s acclaimed films include the documentary “Secrecy” co-directed by Harvard’s Joseph Pellegrino University Professor Peter Galison.Moss attended an MIT program for filmmaking and started teaching at Harvard in the mid-80s. The job was only supposed to last for a year. But Moss, who found he “had a kind of feeling for teaching,” never left. He teaches nonfiction film classes and cherishes the act of teaching film in an intimate classroom setting.“When the door shuts in the classroom, I am really happy. It’s this incredible opportunity to think deeply with the students about filmmaking, this thing that I really love.”Like the three Harvard alumni, Moss will anxiously be watching the awards, albeit from home, and likely less formally attired.“It’s going to make me nervous. I am going to be nervous for them. Then I will look to the cuts in the audience, and I will see them for the first time dressed up in a way I’ve never seen them before.”“It’s wonderful to see them getting acknowledged in this way,” added Moss, “but my connection to them and to the work is not through this kind of recognition. Although that’s great, it’s that the work itself is strong and deserving of recognition. To me, it doesn’t matter whether they win or lose. Or, to put in another way, I hope they all win.”last_img read more

Bacteria ‘factories’ churn out valuable chemicals

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first_imgA team of researchers led by Harvard geneticist George Church at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and Harvard Medical School (HMS) has made big strides toward a future in which the predominant chemical factories of the world are colonies of genetically engineered bacteria.In a new study, scientists at the Wyss Institute modified the genes of bacteria in a way that lets them program exactly what chemical they want the cells to produce — and how much — through the bacteria’s metabolic processes. The research was reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).The concept of metabolic engineering, or manipulating bacteria to synthesize useful chemicals, is not new to synthetic biologists. However, what these recent findings promise is up to a 30-fold increase in chemical output. This demonstrates a technique that allows scientists to tap an almost endless list of chemicals they can produce using any type of bacteria, such as the common E. coli, which was used in the study. Most promising, the production timescale is nearly 1,000-fold faster than the methods currently used for metabolic engineering.“This advance has implications for pharmaceutical, biofuel, and renewable chemical production,” said Wyss Institute Founding Director Donald Ingber. “By increasing the production output by such a huge factor, we would not only be improving current chemical production but could also make economical production of many new chemicals attainable.”The team uses evolutionary mechanisms to trick the bacteria into self-eliminating the cells that are not high-output performers. This removes the need for human and technological monitoring to make sure the bacteria are producing efficiently, and therefore hugely reduces the overall timescale of chemical production.“We make the bacteria addicted to the chemicals we want them to produce,” said Jameson Rogers, a lead co-author of the study, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Ph.D. candidate at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Wyss Institute graduate researcher. “Then, we treat them with an antibiotic that only allows the most productive cells to survive and make it on to the next round of evolution.”The technique makes a desired chemical product essential to the bacteria’s survival by modifying their DNA so that antibiotic-resistant genes are activated, but only in the presence of a certain chemical, such as the one that is desired for production. At the same time, the genetic modification makes the low-output chemical producers highly susceptible to being killed off by antibiotics. Only the most productive cells generate enough of the desired chemical to be completely resistant to the antibiotic and survive to the next round of evolution. As each evolution cycle progresses, the bacteria become more and more effective at producing the desired chemical as they use the “survival of the fittest” principle to stamp out the weakest producer cells.“We’re using evolution to select for the cells that only serve our purpose best, making human monitoring less important to that feedback loop and instead relying on the bacteria to self-monitor their production performance,” said Church, the study’s senior author, who is a Wyss Institute core faculty member, professor of genetics at HMS, and professor of health sciences and technology at Harvard and MIT. “This is a major direction of growth in synthetic biology, where the focus has mostly been on one-off experiments until this point.”Ingber is the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at HMS and Boston Children’s Hospital and professor of bioengineering at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.Additional lead co-authors of the study include Srivatsan Raman, a Wyss Institute Technology Development Fellow and a genetics research fellow at Harvard Medical School, and Noah Taylor, a Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Ph.D. candidate at Harvard Medical School.last_img read more

Potential diabetes treatment advances

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first_imgResearchers at MIT’s David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, in collaboration with scientists at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) and several other institutions, have developed an implantable device that in mice shielded insulin-producing beta cells from immune system attack for six months — a substantial proportion of life span.This bioengineering work by professors Daniel G. Anderson and Robert S. Langer brings the promise of a possible cure for type 1 diabetes within striking distance of phase 1 clinical trials, providing a way to implant in diabetics insulin-producing beta cells developed from stem cells in the laboratory of HSCI co-director Doug Melton.“This report is an important step forward, in an animal model, because it shows that there may be a way to overcome one of the major hurdles that have stood in the way of a cure for type 1 diabetes,” said Melton, Harvard’s Xander University Professor and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. “Now, thanks to the outstanding work of Dan Anderson and Bob Langer at MIT, Gordon Weir at the Joslin Diabetes Center and HSCI, and Dale Greiner at the University of Massachusetts, and our other essential collaborators, we have stem cell-derived beta cells that can provide insulin in a device that appears capable of protecting them from immune attack.”The work was published online Monday in papers in two journals, Nature Medicine and Nature Biotechnology. Anderson said that he and his colleagues report in the latter paper that when implanted without cells in primates, the new device proved to be “biocompatible for six or eight months, without provoking an inflammatory response” or any other ill effect.“We are excited by this new technology and are working hard to advance it to the clinic,” said Anderson, the Samuel A. Goldblith Professor of Applied Biology at MIT. “These papers represent seven or eight years of work” at MIT, he said, adding that “we started working with Doug a few years ago when he began producing beta cells from human embryonic stem cells (hESC).”“We are excited by this new technology and are working hard to advance it to the clinic,” said Daniel Anderson, the Samuel A. Goldblith Professor of Applied Biology at MIT.The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which along with The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust supported the MIT research, estimates that up to 3 million Americans suffer from type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system kills off the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Daily injections of insulin are the primary treatment, but are only partially successful in regulating patients’ metabolism.When beta cells are functioning normally, they are part of an exquisitely fine-tuned system, providing precisely the amount of insulin the body needs. Injections cannot come close to mimicking the body’s own insulin-production system, however, and as a result patients can develop complications ranging from blindness to heart disease to loss of limbs. Type 1 diabetes causes or contributes to hundreds of thousands of deaths annually.It is believed that if implanted beta cells could be shielded from immune attack, and would respond to the body’s own signals for insulin, they would be likely to eliminate most, or even all, the complications of the disease, and would, in effect, serve as a cure.Some patients with type 2 diabetes, which has reached epidemic proportions in the United States and around the globe, also become insulin dependent, and might benefit from the implantation of stem cell-derived beta cells.last_img read more

Across Harvard, art you can touch

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first_img 8A reproduction of the bronze lion erected in the 12th century in the castle square in Brunswick by Duke Henry is now at the Center for European Studies. 1An aspect of Oracle: Portentous by Marianna Pineda, which sits beside the Schlesinger Library on the grounds of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. 13Presence by Mary Frank is at Hamilton Hall at Harvard Business School. 14The marble stele Harvard Bixi sits outside Widener Library. 11Alexander Calder’s Onion adorns the Pusey Library. In the encircled garden alongside Schlesinger Library in Radcliffe Yard, the oracle Portentous receives and transmits knowledge, ancient wisdom guiding future voices. The bronze sculpture by Marianna Pineda was dedicated to Constance E. Smith, the first dean of Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study (1961-1970).“The physical form is set off or liberated from normal worldly boundaries. The feet are not connected to the ground. They are kind of floating. And the arms are kind of out of control,” observes sculptor and artist Nora Schultz, assistant professor of Visual and Environmental Studies. “It is shifting into another sphere, where gesture, gravity, and weight mean something different.”Portentous is just one of the outdoor sculptures — cast in bronze, carved from marble, or chiseled from stone — that dot the campus, inviting contemplation, inciting inspiration, at times challenging perception. They occupy both public and private spaces, silent but monumental parts of the Harvard-Radcliffe community.“Every day you go this way to work or school, you always pass the same object and you develop a certain relationship with it. You see how it changes with different seasons,” Schultz said. “They can really influence phases of your life in a certain way.” 17An untitled 2003 work by Joel Shapiro at Morgan Hall at Harvard Business School. 7Appropriately, Myron’s Discobolus welcomes athletes to the Hemenway Gymnasium. 15Night Wall I by Louise Nevelson is at Hauser Hall at Harvard Law School. 12A fountain in Radcliffe’s Sunken Garden. 6Child Hall at Harvard Law School.center_img 3A Chinese lion stands guard in front of the Harvard-Yenching Library. 18Over the Earth by Tony Cragg is at the Dean’s House at Harvard Business School. 10Katherine Ward Lane Weems’ rhinoceroses Vicky and Bess flank the doors at the Biological Laboratories. 5Peter Walker designed the Tanner Fountain at the Science Center. 16Latent (e)Scapes by Christina Geros MAUD, M.L.A. ’15, lights up Radcliffe Yard. 9The Peabody Museum has a replica of a classic Maya stele from the ruins of Copan. 4Surfacing Stone by Martin Bechthold at Gund Hall at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. 2Red, Blue by Ellsworth Kelly is at Peabody Terrace. 19Daniel Chester French’s ever-popular John Harvard Statue in front of University Hall draws crowds of visitors.last_img read more