Saluting the 2023 Centennial Medalists

Six alumni of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are honored.

THE GRIFFIN GRADUATE SCHOOL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES Centennial Medal, first awarded in 1989 on the occasion of the school’s hundredth anniversary, honors alumni who have made contributions to society that emerged from their graduate study at Harvard. It is the highest honor the Griffin Graduate School bestows, and awardees include some of Harvard’s most accomplished graduates. The 2023 recipients, who will be celebrated at a livestreamed ceremony at 12:15 PM on May 24, are:

Mina Jahan Bissell ’63, Ph.D. ’69, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

Mina Bissell is a Distinguished Scientist in the division of biological systems and engineering at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She is a pioneer in breast cancer research who showed the importance of a cell’s microenvironment in gene expression in both normal and abnormal cells.

Catherine Gattegno Cesarsky, Ph.D. ’72, Astronomy

Catherine Cesarsky is the council chair for the Square Kilometer Array observatory, an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope across South Africa and Western Australia. Her scientific contributions to astronomy are matched by the leadership roles she has assumed, including High Commissioner for Atomic Energy in the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), director general of the European Southern Observatory, and president of the International Astronomical Union.

John Dower, A.M. ’61, Ph.D. ’72, History and Far Eastern Languages, East Asian History

John Dower is the Ford International Professor of History, Emeritus, at MIT. His work has shaped the understanding of Japan’s emergence after World War II and the importance of considering visual culture and everyday life in the practice of history. His 1999 book Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, among other honors.

Du Yun, Ph.D. ’06, Music

A composer, performer, musician, and visual artist, Du Yun is the youngest recipient of the Centennial Medal in Harvard’s history. A professor of composition at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University and a distinguished visiting professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, she became the first Asian woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2017 for her opera, Angel’s Bone.

Daniel Goleman, Ph.D. ’74, Psychology and Social Relations

Daniel Goleman, profiled in this magazine in 1998, is best known for his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence, which remained on The New York Times bestseller list for a year and a half. His 1998 Harvard Business Review article, “What Makes a Leader?”, brought the concept of emotional intelligence to the business world. Through organizations such as the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, Goleman has brought the principles of social and emotional learning into thousands of schools worldwide.

Sanford Greenberg, Ph.D. ’65, Government, L ’68

Sanford Greenberg, a businessman and philanthropist, is an emeritus trustee of Johns Hopkins University and chairman of the Board of Governors of the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University. After losing his eyesight at 19, he invented (while a graduate student at Harvard) a device that could speed up tape-recorded human speech without distortion, just one of many successful entrepreneurial, civic-minded business ventures. He also created the first global database tracking antibiotic resistance, and launched the Greenberg Prize to End Blindness.

Read more articles by: Jonathan Shaw

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