‘A win-win situation’

first_imgThe decision by General Electric, one of the world’s largest companies, to move its corporate headquarters to Boston came in part, the company’s chief executive said last week, because of the city’s strength as a bastion of higher education and innovative research.GE, the $130 billion conglomerate whose products include aircraft engines, household appliances, and oil and gas production equipment, has begun transforming itself into a digital industrial company. In 2014 it moved its life sciences headquarters to Marlborough, and last year announced that its energy services start-up would be headquartered in Boston.GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said the move from Fairfield, Conn., to Boston, which he called “a dynamic and creative city,” makes sense, in part because of the intellectual capital fueled by the region’s many tech-savvy schools, including Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University, and Northeastern University.“We want to be at the center of an ecosystem that shares our aspirations,” Immelt said in the press release about the move. “Greater Boston is home to 55 colleges and universities. Massachusetts spends more in research and development than any other region in the world, and Boston attracts a diverse, technologically fluent workforce focused on solving problems in the world.”The company plans to settle its headquarters in Boston’s Seaport district by 2018. Employees will move into a temporary location nearby beginning this summer. The move is expected to bring 800 new jobs to Boston, 200 in corporate positions, and 600 split between digital industrial managers, designers, and developers.Harvard analysts involved in economic and technological fields said the move seemed a natural fit.Professor Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard, said that though the number of arriving employees may seem low to start, the move’s long-term impact will be a boon.“It’s a win-win situation for both Boston and GE,” she said. “It can’t hurt.”“The academic-industry nexus is crucial to our innovation ecosystem, and having GE in our backyard will be an enormous boon to Harvard and to the region,” said Dean Francis J. Doyle III of the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and the John A. & Elizabeth S. Armstrong Professor of Engineering & Applied Science.Jodi Goldstein, the Bruce and Bridgitt Evans Managing Director of the Harvard Innovation Lab (i-lab), who started her career at GE in the 1990s, agreed. She said the company’s move to Boston reinforces its commitment to innovation and evolution.“Boston and GE have mutual aspirations,” she said. “GE is interested in moving into the digital age and continuing to evolve its products and services. This aligns well with the strength of Boston in life sciences, robotics, IoT [Internet of Things], and software. There is no other ecosystem in the world with the tremendous human capital that comes from the high concentration of universities, science, and research institutions.”Goldstein hopes there will be partnership opportunities between i-lab startups and GE and other corporations. Since it was founded in 2011, 600 companies have been incubated within the i-lab.In his statement, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said he welcomed the company’s “decision to take advantage of the unique resources that our state has to offer, from our innovative economy to top universities.” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said General Electric’s “choice to move to Boston is the result of the city’s willingness and excitement to work creatively and collaboratively to bring positive activity to our local economy and continue to grow our industries.”last_img read more

Poll: Most Americans oppose ‘designer babies’

first_imgMost Americans oppose altering genes of unborn babies to prevent serious inherited diseases and, especially, to enhance the baby’s appearance or intelligence, according to a new poll conducted by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers and STAT. Despite the opposition to altering genes before birth, many of those polled looked favorably on gene therapy to treat such diseases as Huntington’s disease or cystic fibrosis in children and adults.“They’re not against scientists trying to improve [genome-editing] technologies,” Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Political Analysis, said in a February 11, 2016 STAT article. Perhaps they realize there one day may be a reason to use such technologies, but for now, “people are concerned about editing the genes of those who are yet unborn,” he said.Many of the 1,000 adults polled reported knowing little about “germline editing”—changing the genetic characteristics of unborn babies. “If people don’t know too much, it appears to be a very high-risk thing to do, messing around with the genes of unborn babies,” research scientist John Benson, who helped analyze the poll results, said in the STAT article.The poll is part of a monthly collaboration between STAT and Harvard Chan to explore emerging issues in health and medicine and gauge Americans’ views on the issues. Read Full Storylast_img read more

New Center targets environmental health disparities in Massachusetts

first_imgA new collaborative effort by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Boston University School of Public Health aims to address the health effects of exposure to multiple negative environmental and social factors—such as air pollution, excess noise, lack of green space, and crime—in communities across Massachusetts. The Center for Research on Environmental and Social Stressors in Housing Across the Life Course (CRESSH) is among five nationwide Centers of Excellence that recently received federal funding for environmental health disparities research.“We know that air pollution, temperature, and other factors in the environment where people live can affect their health. Our goal is to understand how certain characteristics, such as race or income, neighborhood, and features of homes—such as the age or proximity to a busy road—can interact to affect health risk,” said CRESSH co-director Francine Laden, professor of environmental epidemiology at Harvard Chan School. “Together with a strong working relationship with our community partners we aim to provide evidence that will lead to the most effective intervention targets for improving people’s health.”The CRESSH team will study how air pollution, weather, and housing conditions may affect birth weight, childhood growth trajectories, and risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and whether improved urban housing may benefit health. They will also partner with community organizations on research activities and to develop culturally appropriate materials to suggest ways to reduce exposure to harmful environmental agents. Read Full Storylast_img read more

Richard John O’Connell, 73

first_imgAt a Meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences on Dec. 6, 2016, the following Minute was placed upon the records.Professor Richard O’Connell, who arrived at Harvard as Assistant Professor of Geology in 1971 and passed away on April 2, 2015, was a towering figure of post-modern geophysics.Rick’s path to Harvard and science was not linear. He was raised in Montana, where his paternal grandparents had emigrated from Ireland and his grandfather worked as a gold miner. His father was a successful cattle rancher and, for a time, Sheriff of Lewis and Clark County. Rick’s mother, a musician, raised her children during her husband’s long absences and after he was seriously injured in a bull goring. In this challenging environment of hard work, high expectations, and encouragement, a home life that began in the county jail and was centered on the ranch that he returned to throughout his life, Rick developed an abiding affection for America’s wide-open spaces and the values of those who live within them.He left Montana to pursue an undergraduate degree in physics at the California Institute of Technology. Gerald Wasserburg, the legendary experimental geochemist, convinced Rick that Earth science was the most promising application of physics and explained that his group would have a vacancy once an underperforming undergraduate was told that his career in geochemistry had come to a premature end. Rick remained at Caltech as a graduate student, working with Wasserburg and Don Anderson, and his thesis made two enduring contributions. First, he explained the enigmatic origin of many sedimentary basins that form within continents. These basins are a ubiquitous feature of the geological record and growing up close to a widely studied example, the Williston Basin, no doubt sparked Rick’s interest in the topic. Second, Rick turned to data related to the Earth’s changing shape following the ice age to estimate the viscosity of rocks within the Earth’s deep mantle. He demonstrated that this region is not rigid, as widely believed, but has a viscosity low enough to permit solid-state flow. This insight remains a paradigm of modern geophysical research, and it provided an early example of a theme within Rick’s entire body of research: the energetic bucking of what Kenneth Galbraith called, in another field of study, “conventional wisdom.”After post-doctoral work at UCLA working on experimental high-pressure mineral physics, Rick was recruited to Harvard University, along with seismologist Adam Dziewonski, to build a geophysics program in the Department of Geology. The post–plate tectonics world was preoccupied with elucidating the driving force responsible for plate motions and, seizing this opportunity, Rick turned his attention to theoretical research focused on that question. He found support within the Center for Earth and Planetary Physics led by atmospheric physicist Richard Goody, and a kindred spirit in the applied mathematician Bernard Budiansky. Together, O’Connell and Budiansky developed a seminal mathematical theory for treating defects in cracked and porous rocks and for predicting the impact these defects have on Earth’s deformation over time scales ranging from seconds to decades. Even today, students who embark on research in mantle anelasticity are commonly advised to “start with O’Connell and Budiansky.”After being tenured in 1977, Rick helped merge the Center for Earth and Planetary Physics with the Department of Geology, creating the new Department of Earth and Planetary Science. With the support of Michael Spence, the Dean of the FAS, the department quickly established itself as a world center for solid Earth research.During this period and beyond, in the quickly evolving post–plate tectonics world, Rick, and his students, were responsible for transformative contributions to our understanding of thermochemical mantle flow and its connection to the geological record. His group pioneered calculations of three-dimensional mantle convection. They discovered that energy in plate motions was equipartitioned into poloidal and toroidal components—a now fundamental constraint on the mantle-plate system; they argued that the dip angle of subduction zones implied that upper mantle flow penetrated into the lower mantle and showed that global flow strongly impacts back-arc spreading rates, revealing an important limitation of regional tectonic studies; they modeled “ablative” subduction, an elegant framework for reconciling observations in a range of subduction environments, and used mantle flow modeling to explain the distribution of plumes and hotspot tracks and the enigmatic bend in the Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain; and they presented a new model of mantle dynamics in which long-lived and segregated “blobs” of chemically distinct material reside within a high-viscosity lower mantle, subducted slabs penetrate into the lower mantle, plumes rise sluggishly from their deep sources and a relatively weak shallow mantle permits the energetic evolution of Earth’s surface geology. A review in the journal Science credited the new framework as pointing the way toward a unified view of the Earth that reconciles geochemical, mineral physics, and seismological data. In later work, Rick expanded his geophysical focus to write influential papers on the interior properties of exoplanets and was a visionary founding member of the Origins of Life Initiative at Harvard.Rick’s profound scientific legacy is reflected in the prestigious honors he received—the Augustus Love Medal from the European Geosciences Union, the Inge Lehmann Medal from the American Geophysical Union, and the Arthur L. Day Medal from the Geological Society of America—and in the generations of young scientists he supervised. His former students, intellectual leaders in their own right, have elevated the many institutions to which they belong, including MIT, UC Berkeley, Harvard, Los Alamos National Lab, NASA, GFZ Potsdam, and the University of Toronto. Rick will be remembered for his extraordinary generosity and his love of the logic and precision of science. His legacy in life includes, first and foremost, his family: his wife Susan, whom he adored and who happily shared his world of ideas and his adventurous spirit on a different kind of wide open space, the ocean; his son, Brian; and his step-daughter, Lily. Those of us lucky enough to call Rick a friend miss his incomparably sharp wit, and the sense, whenever we spoke to him, that we were sharing time with an irreplaceable human being of great substance and dignity.Respectfully submitted,Jeremy BloxhamStein B. JacobsenMichael B. McElroyDimitar SasselovJerry X. Mitrovica, Chairlast_img read more

Study finds first molecular genetic evidence of PTSD heritability

first_imgA large new study from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium provides the first molecular genetic evidence that genetic influences play a role in the risk of getting Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after trauma.The report extends previous findings that showed that there is some shared genetic overlap between PTSD and other mental disorders such as schizophrenia. It also finds that genetic risk for PTSD is strongest among women.The study was published online April 25, 2017 in Molecular Psychiatry.“We know from lots of data—from prisoners of war, people who have been in combat, and from rape victims—that many people exposed to even extreme traumatic events do not develop PTSD. Why is that? We believe that genetic variation is an important factor contributing to this risk or resilience,” said senior author Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health who leads the Global Neuropsychiatric Genomics Initiative of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at Broad Institute.PTSD is a common and debilitating mental disorder that occurs after a traumatic event. Symptoms include re-experiencing the traumatic event, avoiding event-related stimuli, and chronic hyperarousal. In the U.S., one in nine women and one in twenty men will meet the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis at some point in their lives. The societal impact is large, including increased rates of suicide, hospitalization, and substance use.The new study builds a strong case for the role of genetics in PTSD, which has previously been documented in studies of twins. Read Full Storylast_img read more

A boozy writer who crossed out the adjective

first_imgNovelist and essayist Leslie Jamison ’04 comes to Cambridge Thursday for a conversation with Harvard professor James Wood on her new book, “The Recovering.”Author of the best-selling “The Empathy Exams,” Jamison mixes memoir with literary criticism in her new narrative, reflecting on her own struggles to get sober and the burden of alcohol in the work and lives of writers and performers such as Raymond Carver, Billie Holiday, Stephen King, and Amy Winehouse.Jamison, based in New York and on the road with her 12-week-old daughter and her mom, will sit down with Wood at the Cambridge Public Library. Ahead of the visit, we talked to her about her early days of drinking, the shame and loneliness of addiction, and becoming a sober storyteller.Q&ALeslie JamisonGAZETTE: Let’s start at the beginning. How did you come to choose the title and subtitle (“The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath”)?JAMISON: A big part of the word recovering had to do with ongoingness. It’s never fully finished and I wanted to ponder that. It’s a process larger than any single person. It’s not “my” recovering. It’s like an umbrella holding different stories. There are many recovering stories that have been lost to the margins. I wanted to highlight not only famous drunk writers — John Berryman, Raymond Carver — but stories and writers who had been fully forgotten — like George Cain, who wrote about heroin’s grip on him in “Blueschild Baby.”As far as the subtitle goes, if authors had their way, there’d be no subtitles. The big struggle was trying to think of a genre label. “Intoxication” summons this feeling of being overwhelmed, enraptured under the thrall of something, and I wanted to conjure that and the aftermath as just as important a part of the story. The story of getting better is just as interesting as falling apart.GAZETTE: Your personal story includes a lot of disturbing, sometimes violent episodes, from finding a maggot growing in your ankle in Bolivia and being sexually assaulted in Nicaragua to many blackouts. Why was it important to write about these difficult moments?JAMISON: I didn’t want to gloss over the truly hard experiences or shameful feelings, and, to be honest, about how good drinking has felt and why I fell in love with it. In recovery there’s a saying: “You have to play the tape all the way through,” if you are fantasizing about having a drink. In the narrative, I was playing the tape all the way through. There were some external consequences in my relationships, and certain health risks or violence. The external consequences in my life were nowhere near as profound as other people who deal with addiction. I had to acknowledge it by analyzing it. People aren’t being judged for how much they have lost. In meetings, people are really ready to look for resonances, not differences.GAZETTE: Can you be a great sober storyteller?JAMISON: There was an earlier version of myself that believed all great storytelling had to come from radical dysfunction. Now, having written the book, I believe great storytelling can come from great places. Some writers never come out of it and have created great art from dysfunction. Jean Rhys, for example, drank into impossible old age. She never found her way out of abiding sadness, but she also created phenomenal works of beauty. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to disprove the connection. Pain is an incredible catalyst, but I wanted to explore this other zone of possibility — stages of wellness that could create really compelling narrative.,GAZETTE: You are embarking on a 17-city tour. How much are you expecting your readings to have elements of an AA meeting, with audience members sharing their own emotional experiences?JAMISON: I’m sure there will be some level of people sharing their stories. It’s already happened with people reaching out on social media and writing me notes. I love and embrace that. I know, as a reader, how much I respond to other people’s stories. I also have tried to draw better boundaries. Having my infant daughter with me will be a different kind of boundary. I’m utterly devoted to her, and I probably can’t give as much of myself. One of my big-picture hopes for the book is that it gives people a different way to relate to their own lives.GAZETTE: You write about your early years at Harvard, struggling with alcohol and food and feeling alone. How do you reflect now on that time?JAMISON: I was recently giving a talk at a college and was asked to say words about my own time. I ended up reflecting on this visual memory of looking up at lit windows of the dorms on my way to use the pay phone to call my mom, or to walk to Hemenway to work out. I felt like that person in that lit space was probably pretty happy and having the experience I was not having. When I look back, I think I was projecting a lot of happiness and stability on people around me because that’s what I wished for myself. So many people behind those windows were experiencing what I was experiencing. It was fallacy, and those windows held their share of hardship as well.GAZETTE: Has having had a baby changed your writing habits?JAMISON: I have a shared writing space. That’s an important part of the day for me. It’s like going to work, and my body has a Pavlovian response. On the block of 14th Street, I see Potbelly Sandwich Shop, and I know I have to get into gear: I have a writing practice. I try not to go on the internet until 12 or 1 p.m. I also have a 9-year-old stepdaughter, and the last four or five years of my life have taught me to get much less precious about the conditions I need in which to write. I write in airports, on airplanes, in hotels, even on the subway. Rather than feeling like I need the stars to align, I try to write anywhere I can any time I can.last_img read more

Attorney appears confident admissions case ruling will favor Harvard

first_img Related Students, alumni offer perspectives on importance of diversity Admissions lawsuit enters second week More Harvard officials to testify in trial challenging College’s admissions process Harvard files motion backing student testimony at trial In letter, President Bacow defends processes, says University doesn’t discriminate Harvard admissions trial begins today Attorney William F. Lee ’72 stood outside Boston’s Moakley U.S. Courthouse Friday afternoon and appeared confident a federal judge will rule that Harvard does not discriminate against Asian Americans in its admission practices.Surrounded by reporters, the University’s lead trial lawyer said that Harvard “does not discriminate” and that a contrary ruling would be counter to established legal precedent, would eliminate 1,000 Hispanic and African-American students from Harvard’s campus, and would be “a disaster for the country.”The trial, which concluded with lawyers from Harvard and the group Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) offering closing statements, was the culmination of a lawsuit filed by that group in 2014. Founded by Edward Blum, an opponent of race-conscious admissions, SFFA alleges that Harvard discriminates against Asian Americans in its College admissions.Harvard has denied the claims and said its process, which has been cited by the Supreme Court as an exemplar, uses race as one consideration among many when selecting among thousands of highly qualified applicants for its first-year class. A race-neutral policy, Harvard contends, would severely curtail the diversity of its student body.As he did in his opening statement, Lee again recalled a day early in his legal career when he was one of only two minorities in a courtroom filled with white men. Society, like Harvard, has made great strides toward inclusion and diversity in the intervening 42 years, said Lee, and a ruling in SFFA’s favor would threaten that critical progress.“The demographics of those here with us today as this trial ends reflect the enormous progress we have made in becoming a more diverse and inclusive society and community. The plaintiff wants to turn back that clock. The plaintiff thinks, as they told us under oath, in terms of the efficient allocation of minority students and winners and losers,” said Lee, saying that according to SFFA’s expert economist, Duke University’s Peter Arcidiacono, Asian American and white students would be the “winners,” while Hispanic and African-American students would be the “losers” under race-neutral admissions.In his closing remarks, co-counsel for Harvard Seth Waxman ’73 addressed the statistical model that SFFA used to argue that Asian American applicants are penalized. He said key flaws in the design created by Arcidiacono rendered it moot, and SFFA’s argument baseless. Arcidiacono’s decision to leave out important information from his model amounted to data mining, said Waxman, that “took him further and further away from Harvard’s actual process. He made the choices that instead allowed him to find the result the plaintiff was looking for.”Assessing the numbersMany analysts and scholars agree the ruling will likely turn in part on how Judge Allison D. Burroughs interprets the testimony offered by each side’s statistical experts. Arcidiacono and Harvard’s expert, David Card, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who specializes in labor economics, each completed complex statistical analyses using six years of admissions information representing more than 100,000 applications.During the second and final weeks of the trial, both experts spent several hours on the stand explaining their approaches in exacting detail. Arcidiacono told his lawyers that, based on his model, which intentionally left out athletes, children of Harvard alumni, students on the dean’s interest list, or children of Harvard faculty or staff, he found evidence of discrimination against Asian Americans. Arcidiacono said his decision to omit those applicants allowed him to compare “apples to apples” since those applicants are accepted at a higher rate than others in the pool.In his closing statement William Lee (right) said, SFFA “would turn back the clock … would eviscerate the progress we have made by pursuing not just sanctioned but lauded, race-conscious admissions policies … would reduce dramatically the number of African-American students and Hispanic students on our college and university campuses today.” Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff PhotographerUnder questioning from Harvard and SFFA lawyers, Card pushed back, saying that Arcidiacono’s data was incomplete because it failed to reflect important information considered by the admissions office, such as an applicant’s intended concentration, parental occupation, results of the alumni interview, and personal rating. Card also criticized the Duke professor’s choice to leave some applicants out of his analysis, saying the exclusions made Arcidiacono’s results unreliable.“Excluding this highly competitive group, who are 30 percent of the admissions, in my mind would be kind of like estimating a model for retirement and excluding all the people over 65,” said Card.In his model, Card said he chose to include that information and also to run a separate model for each year of data instead of pooling all years into one model as Arcidiacono had done, in an effort to match Harvard’s actual process more effectively. He said his results showed no discrimination in admissions.Card said his model showed a slight advantage for Asian American female applicants, and Asian Americans who applied from California. Waxman pointed out that inconsistency, saying such findings “would surely be a bizarre outcome for an admissions office trying to discriminate against Asian Americans.”Lawyers for Harvard also cited an amicus brief field by 16 economists, including two Nobel laureates and former chair of the Federal Reserve Janet Yellen, who backed Card’s approach and labeled Arcidiacono’s findings “implausible.”Harvard faculty, staff, students, leaders testifyOver 15 days of proceedings, numerous current and former Harvard officials, students, and staff took the stand in support of Harvard. Longtime Dean of Admissions William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 spent four days offering testimony and walking lawyers through the complicated process of how admissions officers select students for an incoming class. The ultimate decisions, said Fitzsimmons, are the result of countless hours of work by individuals and a 40-person committee review. An applicant’s race or ethnicity, he said, is only one of many factors taken into consideration throughout the process.Asked by Lee if, in his more than 30-year career with the admissions office, he had seen “bias or discrimination against Asian Americans,” Fitzsimmons replied: “Never.” Former Harvard President Drew Faust, who led the University when the suit was filed, testified that Harvard’s diverse campus helps the institution fulfill its mission of fostering a “diverse learning environment” where “intellectual transformation is deepened and conditions for social transformation are created.”Faust, who led a number of efforts to promote diversity and inclusion during her tenure, told Lee, “Racial diversity is important because race is an element in our society of importance, and it also can be a defining element in how our students understand themselves and how they understand the experiences of their lives and what they bring to the Harvard College community.”Ruth Simmons, former president of Brown University, also testified. Simmons, who was born in Texas in a sharecropper’s shack, said the deep divisions in American society require leaders who are prepared to break down barriers and to mediate conflicts. Absent its diversity, Harvard’s goal of educating citizen-leaders “would be an impoverished mission that does not provide for its students the kind of education that prepares them to live in the world that we now have,” she said. Current, former students tell their storiesThe most moving testimony came early last week when several current and former students took the stand. The eight undergraduates and alumni, representing a range of backgrounds and life experiences, testified it was critical for Harvard to continue to use race as a factor in its admissions processes, both to attract diverse applicants and to maintain a diverse student body.Sally Chen, a Harvard senior who identifies as Chinese American, said her parents were warehouse and factory workers before they immigrated to the U.S. in 1980. Chen said she frequently acted as a translator for them and advocated “for them across barriers of cultural and linguistic difference in different settings.” Those efforts, she said, helped shape her views on social responsibility and her desire to advocate for others, and they became the focus of her Harvard application essay.Chen reviewed her admission file after she was accepted. She told the court, “I was, I think, very much seen, and my story was heard … and I think that there was no way in which flat numbers and a resume could have gotten across how much of a whole person that I am. And I think that it’s truly incredible to have been seen and been heard for who I am and valued for it.”Some witnesses testified that Harvard’s diversity helped inspire them to apply.Itzel Libertad Vasquez-Rodriguez, who graduated cum laude from Harvard in 2017 with a sociology concentration, said Harvard wasn’t on her radar when she began her college search. “I thought it was a school that was too white, that was too elite,” said Vasquez-Rodriguez.But she later became intrigued, she said, by the possibility of learning alongside the “best and brightest students in the world” and from the “best professors.” As someone who identifies as Chicana and hails from “a diverse area in Southern California,” Vasquez-Rodriguez said she was also impressed by the fact that Harvard valued diversity and considered race as one of many factors in its application process.“I felt like so much of my experience and so much of my perspective and world view has been colored by my ethno-racial identity, and I wanted a school that took that into consideration and that valued that — that part of myself. And I also wanted to make sure that there would be other students who were people of color like myself who would be at that school so that I could have a more safe environment, a more welcoming environment,” and a better learning environment.In his closing statement, Lee highlighted the Harvard students who had testified, projecting their images on a slide. “In contrast to all of this, what did you hear from SFFA?” asked Lee whose next slide was blank. “Not a single member of SFFA took the stand.” The identities of SFFA’s student members have not been made public.Views from Harvard students As they had through much of the trial, Harvard students filled the seats in the back of the courtroom on the final day. Those unable to get in watched the proceedings on monitors in an empty jury room on the second floor.Catey Boyle mingled with friends outside the courthouse after the trial ended. A Harvard Ph.D. student in history and a member of the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College, a group that was part of an amicus brief filed on behalf of Harvard, Boyle said she was there to show her support.“I came because affirmative action matters and race-conscious admissions matter, not just for students of color but also for white students as well,” said Boyle. “It broadens our experience and makes the education better when you interact with people from different backgrounds. And I wanted to be present and show who this is going to affect. It’s going to affect all Harvard students.”Nearby, lawyers for SFFA held their own press conference, as Blum looked on from behind reporters flanked by protestors holding signs that read “Harvard Stop Asian Quota.”“We are committed to this case until the end,” said SFFA lawyer William S. Consovoy.A ruling in the case is expected in the coming months. But regardless of Burroughs’ decision, many analysts think the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately have the final word.last_img read more

Harvard Votes Challenge awarded grant to increase participation across campus

first_imgHarvard University President’s Administrative Innovation Fund awards grant to support the expansion of the Harvard Votes Challenge, a nonpartisan, University-wide effort to encourage voter participation led by the Institute of Politics and the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School.This prestigious honor underscores President Larry Bacow’s and Harvard University’s commitment to serving as a national leader of civic engagement in higher education. The Harvard Votes Challenge will use the additional funding to institutionalize voter readiness and increase civic participation among students, faculty, and staff. In addition, funds will be dedicated to efforts to build capacity in student affairs and related administrative offices across the 12-degree granting schools of Harvard University ahead of the 2020 election.The President’s Administrative Innovation Fund (PAIF) was created to foster a culture of innovation and catalyze administrative innovation and collaboration across Harvard by investing in staff-generated, creative solutions that reduce administrative burden, enhance our ability to serve faculty and students, and invigorate our employees.“On behalf of PAIF, we are glad to support the Harvard Votes Challenge, especially with our theme this year of ‘Creating Community and Connections,’ said Keith Collar, of the PAIF team. “Harvard Votes Challenge joins the eight other projects that were funded this year, and the 25 that were supported in previous years, as compelling examples of how administrative innovation advances the mission of the University.”The Harvard Votes Challenge, created in the lead up to the 2018 midterm elections by student leaders, quickly engendered excitement and energy from across the University. In 2018, over 90 percent of all eligible Harvard Kennedy School students committed to registering to vote and the challenge included representation from each degree-granting School at Harvard University. This fall, the Harvard Votes Challenge, in collaboration with the Dean of Students Office at Harvard College, will introduce a new innovation into Opening Days to connect the first-year orientation experience with registering to vote.“Voting is a foundational civic rite of passage that has the potential to become a defining element of the Harvard experience. We believe it’s an institutional responsibility to ensure that all our students learn how to vote and feel supported and empowered to cast their ballot.” noted Rob Watson, director of student programs at the Institute of Politics. “We aim to empower the Harvard community to make their voice heard in our democracy. We are grateful for the leadership and support from President Bacow, who shares a vision of putting power back to people and it starts with making sure everyone votes,” added Teresa Acuña, associate Director for Democratic Governance at the Ash Center. Read Full Storylast_img read more

Mayor Walsh visits simulation lab at Medical School

first_imgHarvard’s MEDscience program recently welcomed Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh into its Simulation Lab at Harvard Medical School. The program, which was first launched in 2005, is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) initiative aimed at inspiring students by engaging them in science through hands-on experiences. Research shows that students who learn through simulation are often able to deepen their understanding of an issue by connecting it to real-life experience.Mayor Walsh joined students from the from the Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) Super Teens pre-employment and leadership program in learning about the dangers of addiction, and what do to if you encounter someone in throes of an addiction crisis.The students faced a simulated medical emergency scenario posing a real-life challenge, whereby they encountered a young “patient” (in this case a robot mannequin) in severe distress and in need of lifesaving treatment. The students were asked to evaluate the patient, assess the symptoms, arrive at a clinical diagnosis and perform treatment.Health care providers and educators were on hand to coach students and help them understand the biological mechanisms of addiction, how certain drugs affect anatomy and physiology, and how they can permanently change brain chemistry.“Mayor Walsh was able to witness what we see every day at MEDscience: High school students catapulted into a real life-like learning simulation unlike any they’ve ever experienced, fully immersed in understanding and problem solving an urgent medical emergency, in this case an opioid overdose,” said Julie Joyal, executive director of MEDscience. “The Mayor’s moving comments about the drug crisis, addiction and education put this in perspective for our students. It was truly an exceptional day.”At the end of the simulation, students learned how drugs affect the neurobiology of the brain and administered Narcan. Joyal says the program is committed to trying to close gaps in opportunity, achievement, and inspiration by driving home the message that STEM-based careers are open to all. It also stresses the importance of critical thinking, leadership, problem solving, and teamwork.Each year, the program educates more than 1,400 local high-school students on the Harvard Medical School campus and is currently in 30 schools throughout the greater Boston area.For more information please visit http://hmsmedscience.org/last_img read more

Making the case for reproductive rights

first_imgJulie Rikelman ’93, J.D. ’97, has taken the fight for access to abortion to the Supreme Court and won. A warrior for reproductive rights, Rikelman was the lead litigator for the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case June Medical Services LLC v. Russo, which was decided 5-4 for the plaintiff on June 29 (with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. ’76, J.D. ’79, voting with his liberal colleagues). The senior director of U.S. litigation for the Center for Reproductive Rights, Rikelman argued successfully that the Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles placed an undue burden on the women of the state.Because the Louisiana law was basically identical to one in Texas that was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016 — a precedent emphasized by Roberts in his concurring opinion — this latest case, the first to focus on abortion rights since the confirmation of Justices Neil Gorsuch, J.D. ’91, and Brett Kavanaugh, was not only a test of precedent but a test of the changing court. Harvard Law Today spoke with Rikelman to discuss the case and its implications.Q&AJulie RikelmanHLT: June Medical Services LLC v. Russo involved a Louisiana law that appeared to be identical to one in Texas that was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016. What was different about this case?Rikelman: It really wasn’t different at all. In fact, the Louisiana law was explicitly modeled on the Texas law, and the facts were really the same. The Texas law shut down about half of the clinics in that state, and if this Louisiana law had taken effect it would have decimated abortion access in that state.HLT: What does this decision mean for women in Louisiana and beyond?Rikelman:This decision is critical for protecting access to abortion in Louisiana. There are three clinics left in the state, and if this law had taken effect it would have made it virtually impossible for most people to get access to care. At the same time, it’s really important for people to remain vigilant, because we know that the opposition is relentless. We’ve had over 450 restrictions on abortion passed at the state level in the last 10 years, and those aren’t going to stop. The vote in this decision was five-four to block this law. Only one vote the other way would have allowed this law to take effect. The two justices appointed by President Trump both voted in the dissent. They would have upheld this law.HLT: What were the salient points in the decision?Rikelman: There are a couple of really critical points. The first, of course, is that five justices of the Supreme Court have said that this law was unconstitutional, that it imposes an undue burden on abortion access in Louisiana. For that reason, it has to be permanently blocked.The second critical point about the decision is that it rejects arguments that Louisiana has been making about something called third-party standing. Louisiana had claimed that this case should have been thrown out of court because physicians, medical providers, and medical practices shouldn’t have been able to bring this case at all on behalf of their patients, and the court, including Chief Justice Roberts, said that that is just wrong — that medical providers can bring these types of cases. If the court had ruled the other way, it really would have shut the courthouse doors to many of the lawsuits that challenge abortion restrictions.The third point is that the court said that stare decisis is important. When the court said four years ago that the Texas law was unconstitutional, given that this Louisiana law is the same, the court needed to have the same outcome today. The court reaffirmed the rule of law.Pro-life activists participate in a demonstration in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 29. The Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-4 decision, that a Louisiana law that required doctors who provide abortions to have written agreements with local hospitals to transfer patients was unconstitutional. Alex Wong/Getty ImagesHLT: Was there anything particularly striking about the dissent?Rikelman:One of the things that is critical for people to understand is that even if Roe v Wade remains the law, if people don’t actually have meaningful access to abortion, it’s a right that exists in theory but not as fact. This law would have made it nearly impossible for people to actually have an abortion. It’s very concerning that four justices dissented and would not have blocked this law.The second thing that’s very concerning is, as I mentioned, that a number of the justices would have overturned precedent on third-party standing. That would have been really harmful for abortion access.HLT: What’s next for reproductive rights?Rikelman:What we really need to work on right now is expanding access to abortion. There are many states in the South and the Midwest where it’s extremely difficult for people to actually access abortion, and we need to make it possible for people to have this right in reality, not just in theory. Abortion restrictions disproportionately harm people of color, people who are struggling to make ends meet, people who live in rural areas, and young people. The status quo is not good enough.HLT: Are there any specific cases you are working on now or will be taking on soon?Rikelman:The center has over 30 other cases that are pending in the courts right now. One law that we’re challenging in Louisiana would extend the waiting period in that state from 24 hours to 72 hours. This is the kind of barrier that makes it really hard for people to actually access abortion even while Roe is the law.We’ll also continue to battle against outright bans on abortion. The center just filed a challenge to a ban on abortion that Tennessee enacted just about a week ago. Instead of focusing on expanding access to healthcare, making sure that maternal mortality in these states is falling rather than rising, these states are busy banning abortion and taking people’s decisions away from them.last_img read more