Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

John Harvard's Journal

Brevia

November-December 2006

Nobel Notables

Two alumni have won Nobel Prizes in science. Roger D. Kornberg ’67, JF ’76, Winzer professor in medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, won the prize in chemistry for studying the molecular basis of transcription of genetic information within cells; his father, Arthur Kornberg, was the 1959 Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine. This year, Craig C. Mello, Ph.D. ’90, professor of molecular medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, was co-winner of that prize for discovering RNA interference.

Centered in the Yard

Photograph by Stu Rosner

The new Harvard College Womens Center, located in Canaday Hall, opened on September 21. Its main social space, shared here by (from left) Zeba Syed ’09, HCWC director Susan Marine, Graciela Carrasco ’09, Victoria Clark ’08, and Kameron Collins ’09, was packed during the inaugural reception. The centers opening culminates the efforts of our students for 35 years, noted dean of the College Benedict Gross; 300th Anniversary University Professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich added, People had to be pushy as well as smart to make this happen (see Womens Center, May-June, page 74). The center will serve as a meeting and outreach space for all undergraduates, with a focus on the needs and concerns of women and organizations serving women.

Seven Fellows

Kevin Eggan
Justin Ide / Harvard News Office
Matias Zaldarriaga
Rose Linoln / Harvard News Office
Atul Gawande
Rose Lincoln / Harvard News Office
Anna Schuleit
Harvard News Office

Four current Harvard affiliates were named MacArthur Foundation Fellows in September, and received $500,000 unrestricted grants to support their work: assistant professor of molecular and cellular biology Kevin Eggan, a faculty member of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute; assistant professor of health policy and management and assistant professor of surgery Atul Gawande, of Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, and writer for the New Yorker and the New England Journal of Medicine; professor of astronomy and of physics Matias Zaldarriaga, who investigates the cosmic microwave background for clues to the earliest universe; and Radcliffe Institute Fellow Anna Schuleit, an installation artist now at work on a piece for one of Boston Harbors uninhabited islands. Three alumni were also honored: narrative journalist Adrian LeBlanc, BF ’95; D. Holmes Morton, M.D. ’83, a country doctor and researcher focused on rare genetic diseases; and Jennifer Richeson, Ph.D. 00, an associate professor of psychology at Northwestern University who studies interracial interactions.

 

Academic Arms Race

Indicative of the investments other research universities are making in fields of interest to Harvard: The University of Texas system announced a $2.56-billion program for science, technology, and healthcare facilities, aiming to expand research space by three million square feet, or 30 percent, plus teaching and office space. Duke appointed Michael H. Merson, a past Yale public-health dean, as the first director of its new Global Health Institute, funded initially with $30 million; it will pursue work in fields similar to those staked out by the Harvard Initiative for Global Health. In September, the Duke University Health System transferred $280 million of its reserves to support research and teaching in the Duke medical and nursing schools. Nike Inc. cofounder Philip H. Knigh t gave Stanfords Graduate School of Business, from which he graduated in 1962, $105 million to help build a wholly new $275-million campus. On September 28, Yale announced a $50-million gift to support collaborations with China; two days later, it launched a $3-billion capital campaign24 hours after Columbia began the public phase of its own $4-billion fund drive.

 

Physical Sciences Promoter

Jeremy Bloxham
Rose Lincoln / Harvard News Office

Faculty of Arts and Sciences dean Jeremy R. Knowles has appointed Mallinckrodt professor of geophysics and Harvard College Professor Jeremy Bloxham as the new divisional dean for physical sciences, responsible for faculty and program development in the departments of astronomy, earth and planetary sciences (which he recently chaired), mathematics, physics, and statistics. Bloxham studies how planets generate magnetic fields. He succeeds the first divisional dean, Venkatesh Narayanamurti, who remains dean of the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

 

Librarian Checks Out

Pforzheimer University Professor Sidney Verba, director of the Harvard University Library since 1984, announced his retirement at the end of the academic year. His tenure as head of the library system, the longest since that of Thaddeus Harris (1831-1856), saw construction of the Harvard Depository, advances in on-line catalog systems, investments in preservation, and a wide array of digital initiatives that are opening the collections to users worldwide. President Derek Bok, who appointed Verba to the library post, praised his lifetime of service to the University, and announced plans to identify a successor before Verba leaves.

 

Guide to Harvard Acroynms

At last, a compact guide to the Universitys remarkable collection of acronyms, thanks to the siteguide at harvard.edu (www.harvard.edu/siteguide/faqs/faq113.html). Do you know what FIRS stands for, or HCTAR? Each meaningless jumble of letters is translated into the underlying words, and a link guides users to the entity for which it stands.

Nota Bene

Medical milestone. Professor of genetics Jack W. Szostak and two colleagues elsewhere received the Lasker Award, among the most prestigious in medicine, for basic research on telomerase, an enzyme involved in maintaining the structure of chromosomes.

Curriculum veteran. Harvard College dean Benedict H. Gross has appointed David Pilbeam, Ford professor of human evolution, his senior adviser. Pilbeam, formerly associate dean for undergraduate education, has led recent efforts to improve advising, serves on a committee reviewing general education, and will cochair with Gross the committee that oversees concentrations, putting him in a strategic position during discussions of the undergraduate curriculum this year.

Human rights head. Harvard Medical Schools professor of social medicine Jim Yong Kim, who had been director of the World Health Organizations HIV/AIDS unit, has been appointed director of the Fran ois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard School of Public Health, and to a professorship bearing the same name. At the medical school, he chairs the department of social medicine.

Donor data. The University reported gifts of $595 million for the year ended June 30, nominally the second highest total in Harvard history; included in the sum was $100 million from Eli and Edythe Broad, passed through to the affiliated, but independent, Broad Institute (see "Bigger Biology"). The participation rate among Harvard College alumni dipped slightly, to 39 percent.

Guide to Harvard lingo. At last, a guide to Harvardspeak, courtesy Lamont Libraryhttp://hcl.harvard.edu/libraries/lamont/harvard_lingo.html. Many of the definitions contain useful embedded links.

Rankings revisited. Washington Monthly magazines college rankingswhich measure social mobility, public service, and effectiveness in fostering research, as an alternative to the annual U.S. News & World Report beauty contestput Harvard in twenty-eighth place, behind institutions such as MIT, Berkeley, and Penn State. Stanford came in seventh, Cornell eighth, and Yale twelfth. The complete list is at www.washingtonmonthly.com. Meanwhile, U.S. News broke a three-year tie for first place in its rankings, putting Princeton alone ahead of Harvard.

Laurie H. Glimcher
Harvard School of Public Health

Miscellany. Laurie H. Glimcher, Given professor of immunology at Harvard School of Public Health, has received the Distinguished Senior Schol ar Award from the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation. The Kavli Foundation, which supports work in astro physics, nanoscience, and neuroscience at a dozen other cam puses, has donated $7.5 million to Harvard to establish the Kavli Institute for Bionano Science and Technology.Rebecca J. Scott ’71, Gibson Distinguished University Professor of History and professor of law at the University of Michigan, has won the $25,000 Frederick Douglass Book Prize, conferred by the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale, for the best book on slavery or abolition, for Degrees of Freedom: Louisiana and Cuba after Slavery (Harvard University Press).Harvard School of Public Health has created a new student concentration in health communication.Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, Tufts, and Northeastern have pledged $10 million in direct services and in-kind support to help improve 10 underperform-ing Boston schools, to better prepare students for college during the next five years. Samantha Power has been named the first Anna Lindh professor of practice of global leadership and pub-lic policy at the Kennedy School of Government; the chair honors the Swedish foreign minister who was assassinated in 2003.