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Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

May-June 2009


Letters from our readers

The College Pump

George Martin Lane

The classic folksong “One Meat Ball” got its start at Harvard.


Lakota drawings inspire a dramatic exhibition.

In this Issue

A human fibroblast—part of the body’s connective tissue—sits on a bed of vertical nanowires in this image from a scanning electron microscope. Hongkun Park and his colleagues hope that the nanowires, which penetrate the cell without harming it, can be a way to introduce genes into cells without the use of an engineered virus or invasive delivery method. One application could be adding a set of genes to fibroblasts that “reprogram” them to act like stem cells.

Three Harvard scholars trained in chemistry and physics pursue innovative approaches and tools that address problems in neuroscience.

Agee as an aspiring writer at Harvard, cigarette and Dostoevsky's <em>The Posses

A profile of writer James Agee, at Harvard and beyond

Andy Borowitz

Comedian Andy Borowitz ’80 has moved from Hollywood success to a multifaceted life as a humorist in New York.

In April 1946, Ware represented a score of national consumer groups when she appeared before the Senate Banking and Currency Committee to testify on extending the existence of the wartime Office of Price Administration.

Courtesy of Bettmann/Corbis

A brief profile of the activist and scholar


Letters from our readers

Right Now

Part of the Perseus molecular cloud, as seen through the Smithsonian’s MMT telescope in Arizona. Self-gravitating structures—dense areas where stars are forming—appear as dark spots. The L1448 region is located in the upper-right quadrant of the image.

New three-dimensional PDF technology allows Harvard astronomers—and you—to explore worlds hundreds of light-years away.

Particulate matter that is 2.5 microns or less in diameter (PM2.5), the kind emitted from smokestacks and tailpipes, is known to be especially harmful. Reductions in such pollution lead to increased life expectancy. In Boston between 1980 and 2000, for example, as PM2.5 concentrations dropped from 18 to 11 micrograms per cubic meter, local average life expectancy climbed four years. Of that increase, four-tenths of a year—or 10 percent of the total gain—was attributable to improved air quality.

Controls on fine particle pollution extended average lifespan in the United States by five months between 1980 and 2000.

A scanning electron microscope image reveals the porous nature of a bioengineered disk where immune cells can reside and be programmed for vaccination.

A new technique aims to boost the body’s ability to seek out and destroy cancer cells.

Energy is the key to understanding human evolution—and to saving ourselves and our planet, says Daniel Lieberman.

John Harvard's Journal

Pardis Sabeti

For this systems biologist, the interaction of science and music is multiplicative.

Happenings at Harvard in Mays and Junes past

The University’s financial gap measures in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

U.S. district judge Nancy Gertner (left) listens as Linda Greenhouse ’68, formerly the Supreme Court reporter for the <em>New York Times,</em> questions Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The Supreme Court associate justice speaks at a Radcliffe Institute conference on gender and the law.

Daniel Donoghue

Curricular revisions for English and the classics

Sally Zeckhauser

Appointments and departures

The Rythmeter, circa 1944, came with a more complicated set of instructions than the earlier “scientific prediction dial” (see next image), reflecting increasingly precise knowledge of human reproduction—knowledge that Rock played no small part in advancing.

A new exhibition honors John C. Rock, the Harvard Medical School professor whose research and advocacy were instrumental in the development of modern fertility treatments and contraception.

News of the University and the Harvard community

Junior Parents’ Weekend brings The Undergraduate a new perspective on the future.

At the Fresh Pond Golf Course in  Cambridge, Emily Balmert ’09 of the women’s golf team—the first Harvard woman to win the Ivy championship—swings into spring.

Golfer Emily Balmert, and the women’s varsity team, have reached milestones.

A novel book on golf


A still from Olch’s film shows Richard Rogers at his editing console, watching footage of his mother

Filmmaker Alexander Olch has made an biographical documentary based on footage left behind by his mentor, Richard Rogers.

Pete Seeger, shown singing in an undated photo, traveled light, always ready to make music.

How Pete Seeger got his start: an excerpt from Alec Wilkinson's new biography, <em>The Protest Singer</em>

John Adams at the New College Theatre, November 17, 2008

A music critic reviews composer John Adams’s memoir.

Yucky Pollution, Shiny Pretty, 2001, Hilltop Children’s Center, Seattle. From <em>Can Poetry Save the Earth?</em>

Recent books with Harvard connections

<em>The City Square,</em> 1937, a scene design by Natalia Goncharova for <em>Le Coq d’Or</em>

The Harvard Theatre Collection opens an exhibition and hosts a symposium on Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.

In Yup’ik lore, the crane—depicted in the mask above—connotes stealth, power, and insight. The human face on the bird’s belly represents its <em>yua,</em> or spirit—the part of the animal that understands, and can relate to, humans. The porcelain “teeth” that border the face are a reminder to use one’s innate gifts to good effect, or risk being consumed by them. The porcelain “bones” hanging from the wings ward off evil spirits; wooden rings represent this world and the spirit world.

Inspired by his Yup’ik heritage, Phillip Charette educates through his art.

Correspondence on not-so-famous lost words


"We gave ourselves an hour of quality Wi-Fi time,” says Charlene Li of a recent hotel stop on a family vacation.

Charlene Li urges businesses to embrace social technologies.

Jonathan Newmark's inaugural CD

Jonathan Newmark balances his day job and his music.

Edibles entrepreneur Jessi Walter on the job

Jessi Walter has fun on the job.

Overseer and Harvard Alumni Association director slates

Celebrate with Shared Interest Groups during Commencement

Harvard Club and SIGs news

The College Pump

George Martin Lane

The classic folksong “One Meat Ball” got its start at Harvard.


Lakota drawings inspire a dramatic exhibition.